By Kihei Ayers, with Barb Ayers
In part 1 - Mod Squad of cats ‘n dogs - a day in the life in Ocean Beach, CA, 2004
Part 2 – In the Beginning - 1991:
Dear Dog Diary:
I remember the day She first picked me up. It was in the Cattery at the jail with all those other kitties.
Actually, it wasn’t bad, it was San Diego Humane Society – but it was still jail. That place in between. For homeless kitties.
Gees, was it noisy, with all that mee-yow-ing in the Cattery. Like all those little baby kitties were helpless.
I was young, but never helpless.
I looked like a grown up cat, just 1/3 the size.
This is me – poised, dignified, elegant.
Boy, was there a lot of frenzied competition when a human came in and started looking around.
Who wants to get busted out of cat jail and head off to who knows where?
The moment I saw Her, I knew she was The One.
I jumped up on Her shoulder and rubbed against Her head and purred with everything I had.
I had Her at that moment.
13 seconds was all it took. Get in, get out, get ‘er done.
But her friend Pat Brown was a total cat-aholic. She was all over the place, picking up all kinds of kitties, trying to distract Her – from Me.
Pat was cooing…
“Oooh… look at this little kitten” and
“Wow, look at those blue eyes - a Siamese!” and
“Ooh, look at this cute little calico...”
I had to make a bolder move.
While She, The One, was distracted - juggling all those other would-be, wanna-be, carry-out, take-home cats - I jumped into Her big ol’ open bag, lying there, bulging open, on the Cattery room floor.
And I made myself at home. Curled up in a tight and tidy ball o’ tabby.
Me ‘n my ball fit neatly inside, with her bag o’ stuff.
I knew for sure, in fact, that I was Her stuff and She was mine.
Of course it worked.
Like I said before… Drawing Her In, The Human, Irresistibly, To Me.
It was meant to be.
So, I ended up in a box. I knew we were going somewhere, what with all the wind and noise.
It was dark but I wasn’t scared. I kinda like it dark – it makes me want to hunt, and I noticed more. But it wasn’t really dark, not for real.
And yes, I know what cars are. You don’t live in jail and not know the escape route.
No self-respecting cat would ever admit they like cars, and I’m no different. But there it was, and there we were – and we were in it. Together.
I could feel the car rumbling around and I could smell Her.
I figured out - that day, our first day together –
Car Gets You There! … To Another Place and Time! … To A New Life!
And that’s what I was going for.
Once the box opened up, there was a tiny little house with tiny little rooms, kind of like the Cattery.
But this smelled way better, and felt way better.
It was just the right size – we were both tiny.
And all those great beach smells – and smells of Her – My Person. And him - My Dog.
And all that bright, warm, sun - shining in - at the beach.
It was just …. the…. right…. spot…. to plop down… and take a nap.
Dog Beach was right down the street. I heard her talking about it as we drove by. And the dog got excited, just at the smell of it. The smell of the ocean.
But clearly this spot, our house, was Cat Beach.
It had its own cat box - a long stretch of white sand, right in the front yard (how convenient!) and pointy, scratchy grass to roll around on, to get the itchy places on your back. Grass was so fun to eat, and so tasty, too!
And House seemed friendly enough. He had a warm stove to perch on, and gave me a bed of my own. And a bigger bed to share with my new family. And a couch and scratching post and places to hide and explore.
I could tell right away that This Was It. This Was Home.
So, right away, I took up residence.
“Act like it’s supposed to be that way.” I learned that saying much later, from my blind brother, Dude.
He meant, not having eyes – which was also completely normal.
That wasn’t my situation here. But still….
I acted like I was Supposed To Be.
Me - The Cat.
I owned the Place.
And I jumped up, like I did that first moment I saw Her. Onto my very first, my very favorite, perch – Her shoulders.
It’s where I lived when I wasn’t on the stove.
And from that moment on, we were a litter – just him, just me, just Her.
Family. Stuck together. In a good way. Forever.
Or at least, nine lives’ worth.
And when the sun came out, like it did every day, it was so bright you could cast a tall kitty cat shadow with extra long legs that made you look oh-so-sleek. Just like a grown up cat! On the sidewalk out front.
I’d head out the cat flap and scratch around in the sand box in the yard and roll around on that way-cool scratchy green grass. And chew on it for a while.
Over time, our family grew. There were twin bassets for a while- Howdy and Elvis. Then, Elvis and Dude. He was the third twin basset.
And when another dog walked by, they’d run outside and stand up - on two legs. Actually two inch legs (they’re bassets, after all) … paws on the tiny fence.
Our white picket fence.
Barking… “Hey, this is My Land. What are you doing here?”
Howdy, the Alpha basset would run off any time that gate was open. I could never figure what he was looking for.
Naturally, his first stop was my cat box out front.
I know for a fact that Howdy loved Her - our mom - with all his bad-boy heart. Even though he ran off. But of course, like a total dude, he was too strong, or manly, or dense, (or is it chicken?) to show it.
She loved him with all her heart and thought he’d never leave. Not like a bad boyfriend that would run off on you.
But he did.
Maybe he was - bad. Howdy? Oh yes, he was. And I loved him for it. He was my top secret bad boy BF.
And it wasn’t so much what he was running to, but what he was running from.
History. Doggie baggage. He had the whole I-was-in-jail experience, too.
More than once. More than the rest of us – even though we all came from the pound or the Humane Society or Best Friends Animal Society.
But that’s another story.