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Posted: November 26, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Dog person can recant on cats

"Cats," one of Broadway’s longest-running musicals, was playing at the Fox Theatre some years ago. Friends proposed a night out, and I accepted, despite not feeling even the least bit warm and fuzzy toward the subject cats, to put it mildly. Not long into it, I walked out. A stage full of human beings crawling about on all fours in cat costumes just didn’t cut it, gave me heebie-jeebies, in fact.

That’s how deep my aversion to felines was. Early on, I adopted my mom’s dislike of the creatures. She couldn’t stand for one to brush up against her legs, and neither could I. Touch one with my hand? Never! Hold one in my lap? Get out!

I am a bone-ified dog person, and I’ll go so far as to say that having dogs changed me for the better. When we lived on acreage in Social Circle, we acquired a pair of German shepherds, bumbling brother Bubba and eager-to-be-loved sister Brandy. They taught me patience that I didn’t then possess, the wisdom and necessity of forgiving quickly, how to give and receive love unconditionally, and the joy of giving care to wordless creatures that needed what I could provide. My heart was filled to overflowing with what I felt for those dogs and broke when they died.

Sonny, a 6-month-old border collie rescued from the Newton County shelter, came after Bubba and Brandy. He’s a character and as smart as the breed is known to be. They say shelter pets are the best of all because they come into your home knowing what their fate might have been, thus making them the most loving and responsive of animals. Rescuing an animal just does a heart good.

This doting dog mother and the household were challenged unexpectedly last week when homeless kitten sisters barreled out of the shrubbery, clearly thin and hungry. First thought: "This is not happening." Second thought: We can’t let them dart into the street or let an over-eager Sonny do harm. But these were kittens, and he was clearly intrigued, but mystified. Third thought: We can at least give them something to eat. So we poured milk into a saucer on the side porch and prepared a box cushioned with an old towel for shelter.

Bob’s inner cat person surfaced. He fell for the little things, the smaller one charcoal-colored all over; the larger one, also gray, exhibiting a pattern like smoke drifting on the wind. He was off to the store the next day for actual cat food, and played with them on the porch. Sonny and I remained watchful and wary. "This is not happening," we said to each other. For an increasing number of minutes every day, Bob brought them into the house, where they clearly wanted to be. We didn’t doubt they’d had human contact before. They investigated every nook and cranny in every room, found hiding places under the tables, jumped as if winged from chair to chair, and charged up and down the stairs. They sounded like the Russian cavalry over our heads.

The unexpected happened. I found myself one night holding one of them on the couch, while Bob cradled the other one in his arms, as we would do every night thereafter. Their fur was like velvet, and once settled in our arms, they purred contentedly, then dropped off to sleep. Their presence was growing on me. I feared them not. Their inquisitive little faces peered into mine; we were nose to nose. They rested in my arms, and I held them as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and this from a person who’d usually cross the street to avoid a cat. Sonny slumbered peacefully beside us, even allowing one to curl up into his belly and snooze along with him. Will they stay or must they go? The answer gets harder every day.

Friends with a farm town have agreed to take them, and I’m sure they’ll thrive there. We’re torn, but Sonny would be just as happy not to have the competition for our affection. But I must say this: Once again, animals have changed me. The kitties pushed my envelope, and the envelope gave way.

 

Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. Her column appears on Fridays.

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