I was sitting in Gregg's chair reading the morning paper. Ray was sprawled out on the couch looking like a bum on park bench, a piece of newspaper covering his body, his legs, tail, and head sticking out in all directions. I had just vacated the spot next to him when I had gotten up to get a cup of coffee. He had been curled in a ball next to me, the newspaper effectively hiding his body and head. Earlier, Hugo had been in the room and I was using the birdcage technique to disguise the dog so that Hugo could relax. But Hugo wasn't fooled; he had nervously jumped up on the couch half a foot from the dog and was peering under the paper to get a closeup view of his sworn enemy. I knew he was studying Ray for weaknesses to be used later. But being a little too close to the monster-dog for comfort, Hugo decamped.
The old woman entered. Moonie, walked stiffly to my chair and tried to jump onto the back of it. Although the chair-back was only a couple of feet from the ground, Moonie missed by about six inches. Her claws scrabbled on the fabric surface as she struggled to get a good grip to haul up her bony carcass.
The dog sprang off the couch, instantly alert and ready to pursue, his tail curled high over his back, his head cocked to one side listening intently for the next clue as to the whereabouts of his prey. His newspaper blanket was slowly drifting to the ground after being tossed in the air from the force of his movement.
I drew the frail cat to my lap and pulled up my knees so that she was well protected. Moonie relaxed into the warmth and started purring, never taking her eyes off the still-coiled dog.
"Ray," I said, "It's just Moonie."
At the word 'Moonie,' Ray's tail wagged a bit but his body stayed on high alert, not convinced that I was telling him the truth.
"Come here, Ray. Come and see Moonie," I said to the dog.
Ray walked slowly over to where we were sitting, still alert but his tail slowly wagging. Moonie was purring loudly now, still watching the dog. Ray stretched out his neck, found his cat, and nuzzled her head. He licked her face a few times, searched around her mouth for potential bits of stray catfood, licked her a few more times, found an ear and gave it a good cleaning, then gave the other ear the same treatment. Moonie purred through the entire procedure, getting wet from dog-spit, until she decided she'd had enough. I took hold of Ray's collar. Moonie jumped creakily to the ground and walked to the stairs. Ray, ears deployed in Dumbo mode, tracked her movements, then when I released him, jogged to the stairs to 'chase' her up. He peered blindly up the staircase for a moment, Moonie was long gone, then returned to the room, climbed into his chair, turned a few circles, then relaxed into the cushion one paw dangling casually over the edge of the seat.
All was right with the world.