Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ten Years of Dylan

Dylan and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last week. I'm not sure which day, but I remember I bought him during the 2001 Roanoke Valley Horse Show. On my way to the show, I'd stopped by Petland on Franklin Road to get something—I forget just what—and I was attracted to a cage where I saw the ugliest kitten I'd ever laid eyes on. He had a pointy face and was kind of a blackish-gray. He looked like a goblin.

I don't know how long the kitty had been incarcerated, but he was at that gangly stage where kittens lose their cuteness. Petland was running a special on him. He was pretty cheap as pet store pets go.

I moved closer to the cage. The ugly kitty looked at me. If you touch me, I'll buy you, I thought. He reached a paw through the bars and touched my nose. I could have sworn he told me his name was Dylan. Anyhow, the next day I returned with my cat carrier and hauled him home. It wasn't long before he settled in like he owned the place. And it was apparent from the beginning that Dylan had a strong personality.

When I took him to the vet for a check-up, the vet asked what color he was. I said "black roan"—which is a perfectly good horse color, just not a cat color. Eventually Dylan turned black,  but the color change was so subtle we didn't notice until he was jet black.

Dylan is the only cat I've ever taught to walk on a leash—or the only cat I've owned who even wanted to walk on a leash. For the first five or six years, the only time I let him out was on the leash. I only had to holler, "C'mon, Dylan! Let's get tacked up!" and he'd jump onto the table and stick out his neck for me to put on his little blue collar and attach his dainty blue leash.

At first, I wasn't sure exactly how to leash-break a cat, so—for the first several times, at least—I just followed Dylan wherever he wanted to go. Eventually, if he wanted to go a direction I didn't, I'd stand still and let him pull. Then I started using a series of half-halts.  If you're a horse person, you know what a half-halt is; if you're not a horse person, the explanation would bore you. It worked. 

Dylan loved to go out and, if I touched his leash without offering to put it on him, he'd start yowling and I'd have to tack him up and take him out. Otherwise, for years he was content to stay in when Camilla and Foxy, the old lady cats, went out. Plus, Eddie-puss, a year younger than Dylan, stayed in, too.

But Dylan was a strong-minded cat, and if he wanted to do something, he did it. For instance, he decided he was my husband's cat; my husband didn't want a cat, but that was too bad. Dylan became his cat. During Maggie's first year, when she  was a house puppy, Dylan loved to tease her. And, of course, Dylan has destructive tendencies.

Four years ago, when he was middle-aged, Dylan decided to make a career change and become an outdoor cat. There was no dissuading him. Here's a post about it: He was fascinated with the world outside and he sometimes brought parts of it back in with him. And here's a post about that:

He goes out every morning between 5:30 and 6. To let me know he needs to go out right this very minute!, he rattles the door to the basement, or yowls, or both. If I don't get up and let him out, he pees. Dylan has me trained very well. 

I let him out, he makes his rounds around the house and bangs on a door to come in. He'll have breakfast and then ask to go out again. About dark, he makes a final tour of the property, and leaves his mark to let the cat next door know that this is Dylan territory.

Actually, anywhere Dylan wants to be is Dylan territory.

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Blogger Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

I pee too if I can't get to the bathroom!

I had to crack up about how he was a roan.

He is beautiful Becky. I once adopted the ugliest kitten from the SPCA who also turned into a beauty like that.

10:34 PM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

How cool. I am glad you and Dylan found one another.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Franz X Beisser said...

Great story. I guess Dylan is boss. I know we got a pooch who calls the shots.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Dylan is a cutie and I can tell he is full of personality. He must be smart too, since he decided he wanted to live with you.

11:11 PM  

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