(This is a column from February. Check out the photo to see how Goldie is doing now).
There was screeching, moaning, grunts and the sounds of feet – and paws – running across the floor.
My wife and our dog were ensconced in the bedroom awaiting the outcome. Every time a new noise was heard, my dog’s big ears would perk up, wary of the sounds coming from our sun room.
Eventually, the dog could stand no more and ran to the door of the sun room and, paws up on the glass, began barking and whimpering. What was going on?
What was going on was I was determined to catch a stray cat, get him fixed and ready to find employment in the world of domesticated cats. I was dressed for battle: gray sweatpants and sweatshirt and a key component – oven mitts. Battle gear. I had an animal trap ready to house the feline and I was ready for action.
The cat, unfortunately, was, too. I had named him Goldie as he has a beautiful coat of deep gold and white fur. I live in the house of my late uncle and aunt and they had, for years, a cat named Goldie of much the same hue, so it’s a tribute of sorts. The first Goldie, however, was an angel. This one was, too, at least until cornered under a desk. “Angel” would not be the word in that case.
As for my dog’s alternating chorus of barking, whimpering, barking, repeat, it wasn’t helping, raising the already sky-high tension. With that and the screeching, hissing and cursing, it was a soundtrack to hell. A caterwauling cacophony and Dante had nothing on this inferno. Finally, with a final burst of energy and/or exhaustion from the cat, I won. Cat in cage, ready for resurrection as a pampered house cat.
Me? Wearing gray sweats covered in dust and cat fur, beads of perspiration streaming down my face and oven mitts flecked with blood, I looked a bit like that Gahan Wilson cartoon with the soldier standing in a field of smoking ruin, saying, “I think we won.”
I felt like it, too. As for rolling around on a concrete floor with oven mitts attempting to catch a cat, it may be the next workout craze after Pilates. I was certainly sore enough.
I took Goldie the next day to a clinic run by the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection, a nonprofit where they spay and neuter dogs, cats and other animals that we have let into our lives.
I expected a grim, sad animal version of a state driver’s license bureau, but no. The assistants there were uniformly cheerful, as were the people taking care of their pets.
Attitudes toward pets have done a 180-degreee turn from when I was growing up. From the top of America’s social order to the bottom, we are emotionally tied to our pets. Remember when people being rescued from Hurricane Katrina wouldn’t get in the boats because the rescuers wouldn’t allow pets? Yeah, that’s us, America – no matter the Trump or Clinton bumper sticker.
At the clinic, one dog was some combination of Australian shepherd and corgi and had a tail that looked like a raccoon. We all fell in love with the dog that could have been the poster animal for diversity.
Another dog being brought in had a bobbed tail that wouldn’t stop shaking, he was so happy. The businesslike assistant checking him in stopped for a few seconds: “Oh, look at Mr. Wigglebutt. Mr. Wigglebutt is so cute,” she chirped. She then looked up. “Sorry, I just have to sometimes. I can’t help it.”
An elderly man brought in a busy little terrier that was leaping in the air at the man, the assistant, everyone. The assistant asked him what his dog’s name was.
“Well, it’s not really my dog … I mean my daughter brought her dog over one day and then he wouldn’t go home. So my daughter said, ‘Daddy, looks like you’ve got a dog.’ So it’s really … I don’t even know what kind he is.”
“He’s a terrier, for sure,” the assistant said, the dog continuing to do airborne cartwheels until the man picked him up, getting a few licks from the happy little dog.
“We’ll take care of him,” the assistant said, taking the dog.
The man walked away, then turned to take a look back at the dog that wasn’t his. Right. You couldn’t separate the two with a bulldozer.
Later that day, I got a call. Goldie was fine after the surgery. Now we could be sore together.
Robert Francis is editor of the Fort Worth Business Press.