Spinning The Dog

A flashback Friday offering

When my dad died in 1974, my mother was at loose ends. We cleared out a spare room so that she could stay with us. She came with Coco, my father’s dog. Our cat Clancy (The Gray Menace) automatically disliked Coco. Their relationship developed a pattern; Gray Menace unsheathes claws, Coco reflexively yipped and bounced out of reach.
One day I came home early. Letting myself into the apartment, I heard regular yips from my mother’s room. Standing by the door, I watched the cat and dog engaged in an activity that appeared to have been practiced. Coco was spinning in place. Once in a great while, the cat gently reached out to swat the dog on the rump. The dog would yip, and the spinning would increase in speed. Every time Coco slowed down, the cat would reach out and swat the dog’s rump again. The spinning went on until they noticed me. When they did, there was a sort of embarrassed reaction, and they walked away. I felt as though I had invaded their privacy.
Coco was not the smartest poodle in the world. The Gray Menace, on the other hand, took great pride in manipulation. He’d been successfully managing my life since he was a scruffy kitten found on the streets of Ottawa. His mastery of Coco should not have been much of a surprise. But when my mother decided to return to Virginia, I’ll swear that the cat was sad.

Over the years, I thought nothing much of this anecdote except as a family story to tell my kids until a few months ago. I knew that our politicians loved to confuse and confound us. But they also like to spin us. Yes, we’ve always gotten spun. But, now there seems to be a sort of manic nature to the spinning. It’s used to distract us from what to needs to get done; like voting or taking reasoned stands on important issues. It encourages divisive behavior, mistrust, and hate. It’s in the disinformation toolkit along with gaslighting, and rumor-mongering.
The memory of the Gray Menace, reaching out and swatting, the dog yipping and spinning comes to mind. Are you dizzy yet?

How Things Work Around Here

OK, listen up! To be clear, it’s not convoluted. It’s been known to Carreras cats and dogs back to prehistoric times. Santa Clause delivers toys to humans. His cat Santa Claws distributes to cats, and Santa Paws ( the dog elf), provides for the dogs. I understand that somewhere way back, an expedition to the North Pole was launched to confirm all this. Trust me; I’m a cat, and we know these things.

It’s different for cats and dogs. Cats are supposed to be bratty, indifferent to their humans, and disdainful of the stuff in their food bowls. People expect snotty behavior from us. Dad would take me to the darned vet if I were all sweetness and light. It would be like Santa’s reindeer not eating lichen and demanding celery. Yuck!

Dogs, on the other paw, are expected to obey. Cats are partners with humans. You guys drank the Cool Aid. You behave or get old dried reindeer poop in your stocking. 

In your defense, I know you’re still a pup. You have to learn now. I get first dibs on bows and wrapping paper under the Tree. 

Cats rule, and dogs drool!

Saturday Morning

A Stream of Consciousness morning ramble

Saturday Morning, and here I am up at quarter of six. The diabolical Empress has done her work of stepping on my face to climb over to her mother, my wife. Loud purrs of contentment wake me further. My wife had her booster and is sore, so I won’t roll over for a hug. Xenia, H.I.M. looks smugly at me from her perch on mothers shoulder. She seems to be saying, “There, now. Why don’t you just get up and feed me? It’ll be easier that way. I’ll leave mom alone, and you can feed the wood stove. See, kitty knows best!”

I stumble downstairs, rake the coals, add wood, make coffee, and get the cat food. The dog has already been fed but begs for a “…second breakfast; I’m a growing puppy!”

The cat stares at me imperiously back upstairs, ” Where have you been? Giving the hound food rather than taking care of my dire needs for sustenance; incredible?”

My wife is now wrapped in the covers and takes up the center of the bed. It looks like I’m up for the day. It’s too early to get to work in the shop, I guess I’ll check out my blog instead.

Maybe just a bit of a nap this afternoon?


My little office also serves as a storage space, room for my small model railroad, and the Imperial Retreat. Her Imperial Majesty’s unique retreat is cleverly hidden behind some curtains for privacy. Enter unannounced, and she will scold you. However, if you begin working on the computer, she’ll offer her considerable editing skills to add extra spaces, punctuation, and carriage returns.

Since she dines in front of the windows, you will have to accommodate her needs to refresh the delicate consumables flowing from the kitchen. Between meals, the snack box will be raided for the best products provided by the chefs at Purina and other providers of quality goods for the discerning feline.

On occasion, there will be an incursion by a loutish canine. For example, this morning, H.I.M. trapped the foolish pup attempting to raid the snack box. Father had to come to rescue him when he heard the pitiful cries for mercy. She commanded that he be locked in one of the cells below until the miscreant learned that Lèse-majesté would not be tolerated! 

After he ran crying from the room, Xenia, the conquerer, decided to take a few moments of repose in front of the computer, watching Cat TV.

Birds are endlessly entertaining.

A Trip to the Vets

Mother took father to the vet today. When he came home, we walked with a big thingee and limped. The dog and I actually had a conference about it. Sometimes he isn’t as stupid as he looks. Max said that he stunk of shots. He hoped that they hadn’t “fixed” him. I heard Mother say something about his sleeping downstairs.

The gall! How am I going to nurse him back to health with licks, kisses, and fur therapy? Loud purrs are clinically proven to be a valuable tool in promoting healing.

The dog and I worry that Mother took him to a vet for humans rather than our doctor; Dr. Balderelli is the best. I hope that where he went is OK.

But they must be foolish. They forgot to put the Collar of Shame on him: incompetence, just plain stupid incompetence.

What if he attempts to bite his stitches?

Super Hero

My superhero costume just arrived. OK, it’s a bit tight, but it displays all my muscles just fine. I asked for red, but mom got this color instead. So it will do for now. I want the red one with a blue cape by Halloween, though.

Super Dog has already been used too much; I don’t like “Caped Crusader being my cape has not arrived yet. So let’s see, not Wonder Dog, but Dog of Wonder has a certain ring.

Dog of Wonder!!!!! Protector of Mom, Dad brothers and sisters…and the cat. Slayer of small rodents, protector of the innocent, capable of leaping whatever fence Dad puts up in a single bound.
Dad says most of the other superheroes have contracts with DC or Marvel. So he thinks something like Mad Magazine might work for me. So why is that damn cat snickering and rolling on the floor?

Being a superhero is serious stuff. But, unfortunately, you get no respect at home!

Creative Food

I am being careful and trying hard not to distract myself from the important stuff. I have hit a nice pace. I am creating product and producing it at a rate I can sustain. I know that the warm weather helps. I’m in the shop – door open- dog wandering in to check on the status of any possible treats, and wondering why I am so fixedly gazing at the plank – it’s not food.

Well, it’s a sort of creative food – Feeling optimistic about the creative juices flowing. I’ve found that creativity begets creativity, so keeping in the flow helps. You don’t want to get stopped, distracted, or pulled in too many directions.

Yes, I know that it’s five in the evening, and you and the cat need to be fed…OK.

You can’t create on an empty stomach…say the cat and dog.

Max Makes His Moves

Hi, I am Max. Mad Max to my family. My specialty is home decoration and renovation – they redecorate and renovate after I’ve torn everything apart. Marie Kondo has nothing on me.

Life for them was so banal before I arrived last month, The lilacs were blooming, and I automatically sensed that mother had a spark of joy for them. I went digity, digity—Father pointed out that this was the exact opposite of what I was supposed to do. But I’m still a puppy; I’m allowed a few thousand learning experiences!

My new sister, the cat ( Xenia, empress of all she surveys), says that I should be immured in a deep dark prison; and locked away until I mature. Can I help it that cat food tastes so good?

Well, this is just the start of the day. Father’s garden needs weeding, and I’ve offered to help. What did they do before I came along?


There was nothing obsequious about the Gray Menace. Assume that he was some cuddly, cute kitten, and he’d attack. I do not think the term feral was widespread for loose urban cats of his type back then. But that’s what he was. He was curious enough about how the other half lived to try it out. I did not rescue him; he rescued me. And he made that amply clear often in the years that followed.

Living in “chambers,” so to speak, was different than on the street. There was a steady supply of food, warm places to sleep, and a human to harass at need. He rapidly showed command of his new environment. He soon figured out how to flush toilets and turn lights on and off at night. He was the master of his universe.

Sometime in the spring of 1970, I moved to a new apartment. Again, there were many windows to occupy, fire escape to escape to, and multiple rooms to zoom in. But most of all, across the hall, was Fifi. Fifi was a white Toy Poodle who loved to get loose in the corridor and come to yip incessantly at our door. I was warned by Fifi’s owner that should anything untoward happen to her little darling; terrible things would happen.
My reply was that if she wished to avoid terrible things, she should keep her mutt away from my door. Things got frosty after that. After all, Fifi was a pure breed dog, and the Menace a ruffian cat.

It took almost half a year for the inevitable to happen. The Menace got loose in the corridor at the same time as Fifi. Two humans ran around in panic as the cat stalked the dog, and the dog barked at the cat. After a few minutes, it was clear that the combat would be a ritual one between cat and dog, as one hissed and swatted while the other yipped and barked. Both Fifi and the Menace had a good time as the humans screamed and yelled at each other. The threats grew extreme, and soon the neighbors came out of their apartments to see what the commotion was about. Bored, the Menace was studiously cleaning his claws while Fifi demanded her human feed her, taking the edge of her robe in her teeth and tugging her into the apartment. This ended the First Battle of the Corridor.

The Menace and Fifi enjoyed this event so much that it became a regular part of entering and exiting the apartments. One of us would come home, go shopping, or take the trash out, and the Menace and Fifi would be at the doors desiring a rematch. When Fifi moved out, the Menace was bereft until a cat moved in. Then the howling and hissing matches started.


A new inductee to Xenia’s Palace Guard, Max shows off his zippy new dress uniform. H.I.M. Xenia states that she had the design created at a famous couture house specifically to give a new look to the Guard.
Max, like all recruits, feels the new uniform needs tailoring to his physique.
He also awaits concrete confirmation of what sort of remuneration he can look forward to. Dry kibble as morning rations just doesn’t cut it. So he joins a long-established lineage of recruits who complain about boot camp food. But on the other hand, Xenia claims that the glory of membership in such a storied organization should be an ample reward.

The empress has begun to take an active role in training and recruit Max has already learned to keep his nose clear of kitty paws. However, undue familiarity with the Imperial personage has earned young Max several “gentle” rebukes.

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