In my dreams I heard the yapping and yipping sounds that dogs make when they are conversing with other mutts. In this case I was surprised to discover that the noises emulating from the throat of my canine housemate Ashley. She was not, however conversing with other dogs but was holding court with five feline queens who had suantered into our garden and stayed long enough to get a drink of water from the bird bath and long enough to attract Ashley's attention.
"I was up all night with the little one," Ashley whined. "It's not that I don't love her, but I do wish she would sleep through the night after I have put her down at bedtime."
Bernice, a very pretty calico cat from West Side Road, shook her head at the dog. "Ashley, dear, Stella is a kitten which is a member of the cat family. Cats are nocturnal creatures. Dogs like the day time. Cats like to play all night and sleep all day. Got that? No repeat after me, Cats play at night and sleep all day. Dogs play all day and sleep all night.""I know that!" barked Ashley, "it's just that I'm so tired all the time! And Stella fusses so when I give her a bath! And she's so demanding when she wants to be fed! Meow! Meow! Meow! That little girl can't wait a minute!"
"Babies are like that, Ashley," meowed Penelope. "They take a lot of time and energy! You have to watch them all the time. You never know when they might sneak out of the house and get run over by a lawn mower or have some other terrible thing happen to them. A mother's life is filled with worry and concern. Yes, there is much pleasure in raising children," she purred, "but there is heartbreak and sorrow, as well." She licked her paw and smoothed her whiskers. A tear slipped slowly down her face.
Helen, housemate, had joined the catnip sniffers and began to purr loudly. "We ladies all know that motherhood is the most noble of callings. Without us to nurture and instruct them, young kittens would grow up without a sense of morals and rightious fortitude."
Eloise, an older queen form Pleasant Street growled. "Morals, my paw! I taught my young ones morals and proper behavior and all that stuff, but what did sweet litttle Felica go and do? Why the little brat ran off with that tom cat, Hector and before she was nine months old, she went and got herself a litter of little ones!" Eloise snorted her disgust. "Then she has the nerve to pack 'em up and bring 'em back to me to raise. What could I do but take the little monsters in, being they were of my own flesh and blood? Then Felica up and runs off with Ashford, that miserable little runt from Wooden Street!"
"Is Ashford that scrauny tom cat with the smirky smile?" meowed Penelope. "I can't stand that cat! He's bad news for any cat! Has no respect for queens!"
"That's him alright! He has a lot of kids running around this neighborhood getting into garbage cans and the like. He really doesn't care one bit about any of them!" growled Eloise.Ashley's ears stood straight up from her head. "I had no idea how impulsive a young female cat can be and how easily she can be seduced by an uncaring tom! I live with a bunch of old cats that no tom cat would even look at twice..."
Helen hissed loudly at Ashley. "How dare you call me an old cat, you miserable mongrel mutt! I'll have you know that many a tom gives me the "come on" when I sit in the living room window!" Suddenly, Helen's paw smacked down hard against Ashley's head. "Take that you disgusting creature!" Like a pitcher in the world series, Helen's right paw wound up again for another blow which landed squarely on Ashley's nose. She marched off, her head and tail held high.
"I didn't know I said anything wrong," whined Ashley. "I was just telling the truth...."
Penelope smiled. Her meow was soft and gentle. "I know you didn't mean anything unkind, Ashley. You aren't bright enough to know the differance between politeness and rudeness. A cat can hardly expect a dog to be smart enough to have learned to be tactful. A queen doesn't like to have her age or looks mentioned in a negative manner. So be very careful what you bark. If you insult any of us girls again, I shall personally pull out every whisker from your slobbering jowls!"
All the cats nodded in agreement. They chorused their approval with a loud meow.
Ashley bowed her head. "Oh, I shall be very, very careful about what I bark! I will never, never mention again how old and decrepit you all look with your rummy eyes and tattered ears and fur. I shall strive to raise little Stella to be a good dog, a responsible dog, a dog with compassion and a sense of justice."
Penelope hissed again. "Look, mutt! No matter how you raise little Stella, she will grow up to be a cat! Nothing you do will change that. A cat is born a cat and will forever remain a cat!"
Ashley sniffed. "Aha! With one difference, Penelope! She will never look like an old cat-hag like you do. I shall wash her fur every day, brush her teeth and comb her fur with my very own paws!
It took me quite a while to apply the bandaids to Ashley's ears and nose. I guess most of her whiskers will grow back in.....Penelope only removed them from one side of her face so Ashley looks a little lop sided....Fortunately our persons usually take the dog for a walk after it gets dark so none of the neighbors will notice.