By Kihei Ayers
From my home in Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA - 3 blocks from the Original Dog Beach, the first least-free beach in America, 2004
Elvis, the big ol’ droopy eyed saggy basset hound, swayed around the house, scraping against the walls of the dinky beach cottage.
Walking for any length of time ate up his one-big-energy-surge-of-the-whole-day, and he used it to find just the right spot in the sun to plop down for his daily nap.
I guess if I carried 70 pounds and a massive square head with neck flaps bearing down on two inch legs, I’d be a super mellow stoner dude too.
Elvis’s circles got tighter and smaller – at least in his mind – as his big butt and huge paws scratched and circled and he geared up for the big plop-n-sigh ceremony.
In the time it took me to groom myself, he thought about, worried about, agonized over the spot – then finally picked one out - then did his whole circling ceremony, then plopped down with a from-the-gut, full-bodied moan that rattled the house.
What a relief - for all of us!
Howdy waddled over for the inspection.
He was Elvis’s big basset brother, though wasn’t really bigger, except in brains and personality. Howdy was part basset and 100% man child. He towered over the sighing, sleeping puddle of dog brother with his “looking down from above” stare.
Howdy ruled over the fake big dog and the tiny old house and the rest of us in it. Howdy loved bossing Elvis around until the little basset brother just disintegrated, melting into some soft, rubbery thing that didn’t resemble a hound dog at all.
I never could figure out why Elvis was so wimpy - he was a big, bulking, manly, wide-body, low rider full-blooded basset hound.
Was it a tiny brain or dinky heart or what-the-heck? Because even though he was way bigger, he never once stood up for himself. In more ways than one.
So while I observed life with Howdy from my favorite perch - the kitchen stove - out of the fray, and where it was always warm - I saw what he was up to when the human left all day and we were home alone.
Howdy totally took advantage of his “little” brother and bossed him around.
Which really should have been my role.
But I’m not hung up on power.
And that all seemed a little heavy handed, if you ask me.
I’m Kihei. Poised, elegant, chatty, catty. A once-upon-a-time pound kitty.
I didn’t like the whole dominance thing Howdy ran on Elvis – but I admired him for it.
Howdy was my top-secret unofficial bad-boy boyfriend. We never did anything about it, other than just purr and rub. Neither of us could have kids – or wanted to. But even if we did, they’d sure be weird - a cross between a big smelly 60 pound hound, so uncouth, and a dignified, diminutive, sleek and slender super-classy tabby cat. That would be me.
I liked Elvis, he was sweet. But I loved Howdy, the big boy basset.
Even though cats aren’t into the whole dog snuggle thing, I actually liked it when Howdy nuzzled up. Partly because I knew it was the first act of the big nightly She Is Home Dance Party Celebration.
Howdy heard Her distant car coming (our human’s) …. the noisy beater, rumbling down the street…. or maybe it was when he first smelled Her coming from a mile away (you know, dogs have the best noses of all.)
And that would get the party started.
Howdy’d start pacing around, toenails tapping on old wood floors – that was my signal to jump down from the stove.
Then, the three of us, two dogs and a cat, like the new Mod Squad or maybe The Incredible Journey (yes, cats watch TV- we know) would gather by the door for the Made-for-TV-Gala-Welcome-Home-Ceremony- for-People!
And Howdy would rub all over me, like he really cared but he totally ignored Elvis.
And then - the Most Exciting Moment Of The Whole Day - She opened the door!!!!! Momma’s home!
And We Were Reunited, and It Feels So Good. After endless dog years of waiting!
Howdy would be all over - wild hair/wild air, jumping up, racing around the house, lap after lap, room-to-room, top speed sprinter dog, sliding out on the floor, tumble turns, then skidding to a long, seemingly impossible stop - like a roping horse - just like you see on TV’s Grand National Rodeo.
A skidding stop - right at Her feet. In our very own beach house rodeo. Howdy was a showboat!
Our human, our momma, was blown away by all this spectacular animal kingdom attention.
She made those funny cooing noises and high pitched primate squeals. She babbled on, like people do.
But it worked every time – every night. Howdy had Her, our momma - wrapped.
And the truth is, he had us all wrapped (please don’t tell him I said that.)
But on the sly, he always kept his little basset brother down, when She wasn’t looking.
Me? I get all the human attention I need. This is me: demure and dignified cat, animated for the welcome-home-ceremony. Drawing Her, the human, irresistibly, to me. For the big I love you purr and head butt love fest.
And in the undignified department was Elvis.
Right after She opened the door and stepped in – he’d be there, tail wagging so hard it threw him into full-body-side-swiping high-speed-rattle-the-house-shake-fest.
It was his best moment of the whole day (after plopping down, that is.)
He was so incredibly excited…. that he’d just… pee.
Right there - on the floor, by the front door. It’s not like She was even inside the house yet, and the big yellow stream went out - pee-pee projectile, a beautiful curving arc soaring through the air!
It would have been precision- like, maybe even worthy of noting for the record – almost worth batting at, like a cat toy - except Elvis’s I-pee-freely just gave up in mid air and plopped down at Her feet.
I once heard Her talking about it to her human friends – something about submissive urination.
And after that, the rest was like that typical family home evening we all long for – domestic evening at home, all snuggly and petting and feeding us, then yummy smells of warm meat from up there on my stove.
Then a couch cat/dog/human pile to watch TV and eat popcorn together post party.
I’m serious about the popcorn. It may be my favorite treat – so fun to bat around – and so fun to snag from mid air - right before it reaches the gaping mouths of my best dog friends.
Yeah, I know about watching Animal Planet, where people try to figure out what we’re really thinking. That’s just us, letting them think they’re in charge, AS IF they really get you.
Humans are so touchy-feely and needy. You gotta throw them a bone.
A good quality cat doesn’t really need anything, except maybe food. The rest is nice-to-have. That’s not to say that I don't like humans and especially Her.
She is nice to have, and so is my own house and yard and pack of dogs and my toasty stove perch.
And most of all, I like being the only feline in the kingdom.
(To be continued in part 2)
Next week: Cat takes over Dog Diary - and home