By Tia Ayers, with Barbara Ayers
In part 1 - I am the Other Cat- the Other Woman. I am Tia the Calico!
Part 2 - continued:
So there I was, living at Cat House, surrounded by 25 felines of every size, sense and sensibility. Waiting to be rescued. Waiting for homes of own.
Elvis stopped by. In 13 seconds, my life forever changed. I was picked out - picked up - by the basset alpha of Surf Dog Diaries. In no time, I was in the car in a box, on my way to my new home with my new surf dog family.
It was obvious right away that Elvis didn’t care what breed or color you were. He loved all animals, all people, all plants and sky and grass and sunsety cliffs.
He even loved water. Even though basset hounds hate water. Even though he started out life, afraid of water.
He liked cats. This cat - me.
He missed his first kitty, Kihei. I’m OK with being his second kitty. The Queen, the calico - Tia.
In the car with Elvis was another dude, Little Dude. They were twin bassets - sort of. But Elvis was big and wide and low to the ground.
His brother was smaller and needier. He was also missing both eyes. Seriously. From glaucoma. Dude was blind and Elvis was Little Dude’s seeing eye dog.
They were all-boy, double-dog and clearly they lacked the feminine side, the cat’s eye view.
All three of us wore the same colors – brown and black and white. Almost immediately upon shacking up together, we became the new three-dog-night – the new Mod Squad.
Two badass bassets and a calico. Triplets. Family.
Elvis didn’t care whether Little Dude had eyes or not.
He didn’t buy that crap about being either a Dog Person or a Cat Person.
He wasn’t selective. Or maybe he was – after all, he hand selected me. Or was it the other way around? He was my very best friend. And always will be.
I am Mistress of the Surf Dog Universe. Queen of surf dogs. Overseeing all, from our Sky Blue farmhouse tucked against the cliffs in the Columbia River Gorge.
Sky Blue is an old soul wooden home that has sheltered people and pets for more than a century. Sky Blue has a cat’s eye view over steep Gorge cliffs - as far as the eye can see, the ribbon of life, changing each day - sunrises, sunsets, angry storms, snow storms, and spectacular summer surfing on the Columbia River.
I have two bassets and a doxie inside with me. And a pushy hummingbird and a flighty flock of wild quail in the front yard.
And I have a person to sleep with. She has a name - we call her Her. Or She. Which She didn’t know, since She’s a person.
Even though people and animals love each other, we certainly don’t talk.
That first night, She and I slept in a tiny bathroom inside Sky Blue.
A bunch of my cat friends lived in bathrooms at Cat House, so I’ve seen it before.
I slept back behind the claw foot tub, where it was darker, and easier to hide.
Once I was feral and bold. But now I was a scaredy-cat, a house cat. That first night in the old farmhouse was terrifying, without the other 24 kitties hanging around.
She slept on the hard wood floor next to the tub and kept turning and tossing all night.
This was all new. New never meant anything good, when you come from the wild. New was when a coyote ate my mom when I was a kitten. The other kittens just disappeared. I was all alone and too young to be #1.
That’s what happens here in the country. Wild animals don’t live in cages, we do!
Did I mention that we live in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area? Where eagles fly overhead and plunge down and splash for salmon in streams behind our house? Eagles could pick me up and take me away. And cougars and bears at bobcats roam free around our cliffs. I heard somewhere that wolves and condors are starting to live here again, too.
Wolves? Holy crap.
Point is, it’s a big, scary world out there. In my experience, change is never good. So there I was, behind the claw foot tub on my first night in my own home. That moment I was waiting for. And afraid of, at the same time.
Elvis was whining outside the bathroom door. We were in here trying to sleep and he was out there, scratching on the door, trying to get in. I’d only been here a few hours, and already he missed me. That helped.
I heard later that Elvis was adopted by the world’s first surfing basset hound. Elvis learned to surf when they lived in California - he was the #2 surfing basset hound. There can't have been many surfing bassets back in 1991. Or today, even.
After the first Surf Dog Diaries surfing basset hound went to heaven, Elvis was the Only One. New #1. But he wasn’t #1 material. He was lonely. So he adopted Little Dude from that famous rescue place, Best Friends Animal Society. They had a bunch of cages in the Petco parking lot when Elvis showed up.
And Dude became surfing basset #3.
Later, Dude went blind. He lost one eye, then the other. But that didn’t slow him, he just got way into smells and sounds and the feel of the water while he surfed. He trusted his feet and his big brother, and Her. I’m not sure he ever trusted me, cuz I never got into water sports.
Now, the only dog left in Sky Blue with me and Her is the pain-in-the-butt doxie Elvis adopted when he got old. His name is Doodle.
Doodle thinks he’s #1 or something, but he’s just a weiner.
We were never close before (Elvis was always my guy,) but since the basset brothers went off to the other side and we’re home alone so much, the wiener dog has grown on me.
We’re almost exactly the same size – I’m big and he’s small. Not twins, though we both weigh 16 pounds. He doesn’t wear all the magnificent colors I do. He’s just brown.
I am a rescue kitty– this is what we do. Rescue dogs and people. Fill up the house with catitude. Give ‘em love when we want, and elegance all the time. Those clunky dogs and humans need us in their lives.
I know - some of this sounds a little unlikely, but all of this really happened.
The part about Elvis picking me up at Cat House and taking me home.
And two surfing bassets and a doxie and a person, riding together. In the windsurfing Capital of the World, the Gorge.
And Dude going blind.
And the coyotes and quail and eagle and salmon.
And being a wild kitty in my first life.
And living with 25 cats in my second.
And in my third, living with surf dogs.
Not many cats write memoirs.
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
This is real life.