Ellie and I walk/run/jog every weekday morning during the school year; unlike in Louisiana, where we were the only ones out anywhere in the neighborhood (save for the construction guys) we regularly have to navigate other dog walkers here. Ellie is an absolute disaster in these encounters, yelping and jumping and growling and writhing around as if she is having seizures. As you might imagine, it's not any fun at all. She exhibits slightly better manners around dogs much bigger than she is, but the ones we see are all yap dogs half her size. When I take her on a quickie walk at night the dark causes her to react even more poorly to other dogs—and what's worse, there is a cat who loiters around the corner house at night that she H-A-T-E-S. A few weeks ago our next-door-neighbor's Papillon purse dog managed to hop through the fence in our yard while she was out there and I had to run out screaming because Ellie was standing on its neck baring her teeth and barking like a junkyard dog, ready to rip its head clean off—and gold "princess" chain and charm right along with it. I am not making this up.
As we already have established that she is a squirrel murderer, there is really no reason to believe she is anything but a dyed-in-the-wool animal hater. She's a lovely dog in just about every other way. A charming dog at best, a predictably junkyard-like dog at worst.
Until today: we made a right turn to check out the only internal cul-de-sac street we haven't yet been on in this neighborhood, and I saw a cat—maybe even a kitten not quite yet a cat—watching us from a driveway. AWESOME. I steeled myself for the impending fit-pitching, but then the weirdest thing happened. Ellie looked right at that cat and kept on going. I know she saw it, and I know it saw her. Huh.
Then the cat started chasing us. Sneakily at first, and then like a cheetah. I had Ellie in total leash-lock mode right down to her neck, afraid I would have to knock on fifteen different doors to find the owner of the dead cat under my arm. Except she looked at me, then looked at the cat, and looked at me again. By this point it was pretty comical, and also very confusing.
And then I swear on my cat-hating Grandma Rinehart's grave that cat came over and sat down to wash her face next to my dog. And my dog just looked at her.
Now I'm just giggling, because it's SO WEIRD. We start trotting along again, and that cat starts CHASING us again.
At this point, I decide that she is clearly losing her dog mind and it's time to move along with a more urgent sense of purpose. Which we do, for close to a mile, with her new cat friend trotting along right with us.
At this point I am developing concern that the cat is going to follow us all the way home. We get to where I have to cross the street, and I'm kind of half-shooing it away and half-trying to get it to stay put so it won't get hit by a car. Ellie is standing like a statue, letting me pull her bridle in ridiculous ways that she is resisting, as if to say "NOT WITHOUT MY CAT." And then a man in a big truck slows down while turning the corner, laughing at me. Because I am either
1.) the crazy lady who is out with her dog and cat for a walk or
2.) being chased by a small cat, which is just as ridiculous.
He drives off and we keep trotting along for another three house lengths until a fancy Corvette charges up and waves me down. WHEW! I think, the owner! An older lady (nice car, older lady!) hops out and asks me if this is my cat. She clearly was going for option #1 in the list of possible scenarios. I say no, I can't get it to stop chasing us! And it has befriended my dog! Giggling, she says that she'll drive it back to where I describe it was in the first place. She picks up the cat, hops back in her fancy Corvette, and speeds away. I have been rescued from a kitten by a Corvette-driving granny.
And now Ellie and her only best friend in the entire world have been split up, and I feel kind of bad.
Except for when I imagine the horror that is 13 years of litterbox.
It all reminded me of the only other dog and cat BFFs I've ever known, Sam-n-Ella.
Ella was an animal hater too, except for when it came to her undying love for Jill's dog, Sam. I never got tired of saying "Look! It's Sam-n-Ella in the kitchen!" for the month and a half that I lived at her house before moving away from Montana.
The dog is full of surprises.