I loved sitting in the House Mama's lap!
Trouble was, sometimes we just didn't sit and love. Sometimes -- like today -- she took the wire brush to me. I guess I needed it. The days were getting longer and warmer. It felt good to get rid of my extra hair. But sometimes the teeth on the brush got stuck.
"Spring must be coming, Gray. The way your winter coat is falling out, warm weather must be right around the corner." Mama yanked a ball of fur from my back. It hurt.
I flinched. My hair's not falling out, I thought. You're pulling it out! Twisting my body, I tried to get away from her.
"Sorry, Gray. But if we don't get these knots out, your fur will mat up. I'm trying to be careful! "
Each time Mama stroked me with the brush, she ran her hand along my soft fur to help take the sting out. I struggled to get away, but she kept a firm hold on me.
Chomps bounded in and put his front paws on the couch while Mama finished my grooming. His ears stood straight up. He tilted his head to one side.
"You look funny, Gray." Chomps turned his head the other direction to get a closer look at what Mama was doing.
I stuck my nose in the air and flipped my tail. "You don't look so good yourself, Chomps."
He just smiled at me and started to bark. "Let's play!" The pile of white fur bounced around the couch.
Mama started brushing again. She held me firmly with one hand while she ran the brush from my neck to the very tip of me.
"Ah, come on, Gray. I want to play really bad!"
"Can't you see what's happening here? Or do you have too much white fluff covering your eyes to tell that I can't get away?"
The pup bounced even more as Mama finished brushing me.
"Get back, Chomps! I'm almost done. Then you can both go outside." Mama lifted me in the air with both hands and looked me over. She gave me a hug and headed for the door.
"Come on, pup, you can go out now. I have to run to the store, and you guys can get a little sunshine." Mama scooted Chomps out the door with her foot. She set me down on the porch swing. I ruffled and jerked my fur a few times to get rid of the sting from the brushing. Mama jingled her keys as she walked to the driveway.
"Be good animals. I'll be right back."
The sound of the car's motor roared, coughed, then sputtered as Mama drove away.
Chomps walked to the end of the porch and sat down with his nose to the wind. The strong breeze shook his shaggy fur.
Chomps was very new to the place. He had arrived at Christmas. Mama called him a Scottish terrier. She said that he was wheaton color. That meant he was sort of white, not black like most Scotties are supposed to be. I guess that Chomps was okay. We had become pretty good friends.
I smiled while I watched the little puppy snap at flies that buzzed around. Fact is, that's how he had gotten his name. When the Daddy would scuffle and play with him, Chomps would pretend to bite. When his teeth popped together, they made a loud, funny, chomping sound. Mama and Daddy thought it was pretty neat to have a little bitty fluff ball make such a big noise.
When he first came to live with us, I didn't like him very much. He was wild, he had no manners, and he smelled like a puppy. I tried to get rid of the little furball, by helping him mess up the kitchen one night. It worked. But instead of just putting the puppy outside for a bit, the Mama and Daddy made a bed in the barn for Chomps.
There were rats in the barn.
They were big, hairy, and they had really sharp teeth. I felt so bad about what I had done, I had to go rescue him. There were too many rats. Callie, the old cat who lives with us, brought the People to our rescue -- just in the nick of time. Thinking about those horrible rats sent a chill up my back.
"Let's play." Chomps barked. When he did, I jumped. He looked up at me. I swished my tail in front of his furry face.
"Okay, I want to play chase. I'll be it first!" I said.
The short puppy legs churned as he tried to run from me. He only made it to the end of the porch when I swatted him on the head. "You're it!"
I fluffed my fur and ran to the base of the tree. I looked back. The pup was still standing where I had left him. He was trying to get his stubby legs moving, but all they did was spin on the concrete.
I scooted up the tree to the bottom branch. I sharpened my claws while I waited for Chomps to catch up with me.
As soon as he got to the tree, I jumped over him, landed on the ground, and ran to the lilac bushes. Chomps spun around and chased after me. When he got near, I did a back flip, landed on top of him, and rolled him into a ball. Then I took off. The dog gave a little shake and came after me. Sliding to a stop, I turned on him and flattened my chest to the ground. With my rear in the air, I swished my tail and growled deep in my throat.
Chomps just wagged his tail. "I'm not afraid of you, Gray."
The little pup swatted me on the head. "You're it again!"
I pounced and flipped him a second time. Chomps shook his little body and tried to clear his head before he ran straight for me.
Just as he closed in, I dodged to the side. The dog tried to turn. He was still young and clumsy, so he slipped. He rolled over about three times. I swished my tail and strutted up to him. "Get up, Chomps. You're it!"
The silly dog kept chasing me and knocking himself to the ground. He was back up each time with more energy. Chomps was always ready to play chase. When I finally had enough, I jumped to the porch swing. The pup stood below me and looked up with his shaggy, hairy face.
"Let's play some more."
I curled up in the corner of the swing. "Later, pup. You've worn me out."
Chomps put his front paws on the swing. "Tell me about the bird again. I can't believe that you have a bird for a friend." The dog stared at me.
"Okay, but then I need to get in a catnap."
I told him about the Mockingbird Mother who lived in the apple tree. She was a good mother, but one of her babies was slow to leave the nest. When it came time for all the mockingbirds to go south for the winter, one little bird stayed behind. She almost starved to death before she jumped from the tree and landed on my back. I named her Flea because she was so hard to get rid of. It was lots of fun helping her catch grasshoppers and learn how to fly. The trouble was, she was afraid of high places. Callie came up with an idea. With a little help from Bullsnake, the snake who lived in the woodpile, we finally convinced the bird that she could fly. I still miss her. I wish spring would hurry so my friend would come back.
I had told Chomps the story of Flea lots of times. He didn't seem to understand that a cat and a bird could be friends.
Warm moist breezes made me sleepy. Chomps finally curled up to take a nap, too. Suddenly his ears shot up. They were so long and pointed. They reminded me of a jackrabbit's.
"Hey, Gray. Here comes Mama!"
I perked my ears trying to figure out what Chomps heard. "How do you know? I don't hear anything."
"I recognize the noise from the car," he said. "It is struggling to get up the hill. Mama is almost on the dirt road near the creek."
I finally heard the sputtering sounds as the car chugged up the road that led to the house.
When Mama parked in the driveway, she got out and began talking to the old car. She yelled at it, like she did when Chomps missed the newspapers on the kitchen floor. He did that a lot when he was little. When Chomps heard the tone of her voice, his ears flattened and his tail tucked under his tummy.
Another sound came to my ears. The noisy tractor was coming up the driveway. Mama stood at the back of the car. Fists on her hips, she watched Daddy get closer to the house.
Chomps perked his ears up again. His fluffy tail wagged, but he didn't move from the end of the porch.
"I'm so sick of this rattletrap. It wouldn't start when I tried to leave the grocery store. I had to call Jim at the car dealership. He drove all the way across town to start the old thing for me. Jim says it's about on its last legs." Mama sighed and shook her head. "We also need to talk to the county commissioner about this road. We haven't even had a good rain yet, and it's almost impossible to get through the low-water crossing at the creek."
"Here, Kay, let me help you get this stuff in. I think you need to sit awhile. It sounds like you had a pretty bad day, and you only went to the grocery store."
As they came closer to the front door, Chomps wagged his tail so fast that his whole body shook. Mama picked him up.
"You guys make me happy." Mama smiled down at me. "What are you going to do, Gray? Want to come in?"
I rubbed against Mama's leg to let her know I was happy to see her, but I walked to the end of the sidewalk.
"Okay, just asking." Mama carried Chomps into the house. "I'll let Callie come out with you for a while."
I was still tired from the puppy romp. Callie would take a nice quiet nap with me. I would go on a trophy hunt later.
Copyright © 2001 by Bill Wallace and carol Wallace