I spend quite a lot of time hanging around with my two crusty, home-providing old farts, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way – after all, they do give me treats. But there’s a cost associated with this: occasionally I forget that I am, in fact, a person of the canine persuasion – a dog, if you will.
This was brought home to me quite sharply on my recent trip to Toronto, when I met Nicholas – the keeper and greatest supporter of the lovely lady I call “Auntie Mom.”
Nicholas is an older fellow with impeccable manners and a wonderful sense of taste. Because he’s older he’s a little slower than I, but he’s no slouch. He uses his energies wisely, judiciously – as I now see – maximizing the return on his physical investments. He’s slightly taller than me, but because he’s older I’m a lot faster.
One of the first things he taught me was how to deal with cats. After the first few times being terrorized by the cranky white things in Auntie Mom’s house, he took me aside one morning and said:
“Look, you need to learn a couple of things. First, stop running away. By all means, give them a wide berth, but you don’t need to run away just because an ugly old cat unfurls its silly claws.”
Believe me when I tell you that this definitely resonated.
Later that night we were walking around the block for our evening constitutional. There were two cats sitting at the end of someone’s driveway – one was jet black and the other siamese. The cats were looking at me – quite honestly, I started to feel a bit like a snack. I admit that I cowered a bit, sidling up toward the house end of the driveway, but Nicholas stopped me.
“No, no, no,” he said. “Here’s your second lesson – watch this,” and with a terrific lurch he ran very suddenly right at the black one.
“RROWF RROWF RROWF RROWF RROWF!” he cried at the top of his lungs. The cat shrank back, arching grotesquely, and cowered away from the irreducible old man.
Nicholas laughed quietly to himself and we walked proudly while I sidled nervously along next to him. As I followed I turned to look at the nasty old cats, both of whom now sat, angrily licking their paws.
This was a great lesson for me. I’m still a bit wary, but I’m also much more brave than I was. Now when I see a cat I turn and stare it down.
Later in my visit we all went to a nice barbecue. There were six dogs there and a wonderful time was had by all. Nicholas and I took some time to wrestle in the back yard as we waited for our burgers. I will always remember this bit of mentorship from my good old friend.
I believe that every one needs someone to look up to.