Friday, January 10, 2020

Communication

Lionel is one of the stranger cats I've ever owned (I've had cats since I was about 8). He fears nothing, is dumb as a box of highly intelligent rocks, and clearly believes deep down in his soul that he is a dog. But, like people who research their ancestry, find out they are descended from one nationality, and attach themselves to their roots without ever learning a line of their ancestral language, Lionel speaks not a word of dog.

This did not appear to be a problem with Lionel and Ray interactions. Since Ray couldn't see that Lionel was not a dog, Ray obviously thought that Lionel was a dog. Their communication consisted of Ray, every day at three o'clock, standing over Lionel blasting him with the doghorn while Lionel laid there basking in the sound vibrations. Although not immediately apparent to observers why this happened, they both enjoyed this exchange and Ray clearly thought his pack-mate was a very good listener.

Now that he has a new dog, Lionel's lack of language skills has become a bit of an issue. Because Cully can see and wants to play with her new, slightly-odd-looking dog. When Cully goes into a spastic play bow, Lionel arches and puffs. When she butts him with her nose, he bops her. I can see Lionel is very confused by these messages because his other dog never communicated in this way but it in no way interferes with his attachment to Cully. He still wants to go on walks with her (the afternoon walk consists of a stroll around the cul-de-sac with both of them while Juno waits at the end of the driveway watching to make sure everyone gets home safely), likes sleeping with her on the couch in the evening, and doesn't even seem to mind (much) that he is constantly being stepped on by his bigger sister.

As for Cully, she is much better at learning a new language than Lionel. Although she can't actually speak cat, she can clearly understand a few words. When Juno starts making her porpoise noises because there is something being prepared in the kitchen that she is excited about, Cully magically appears. I have every confidence that our new dog will be fluent in cat in no time. If she ever starts to speak it, however, I will immediately be contacting Ripley's.

Our two dogs





Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Comparisons

It's funny how bringing home a new dog makes you think of your old dog. Now that we have Cully, I think of Ray all the time. There is a constant mental comparison going on. Not in a bad way just a "huh" kind of way. Either Cully does something just like Ray resulting in an "Oh, Ray used to do that!" moment, or she does something totally the opposite which makes me think, "Well, Ray never used to do THAT."

Every day, for every tiny detail, comparisons are made. Cully is incredibly excited at mealtime and finishes her meal in a gulp whereas Ray would politely wait just outside the kitchen and then slowly and methodically eat his bowl of gruel. Sometimes he even finished it. Cully looks out windows, which I find fascinating. Ray only ever "looked" out the front door. Cully likes only the couches; Ray liked variety, sleeping on the couches and the chairs and the floor. Cully steps on Lionel without even noticing; Ray rarely, if ever, stepped on a cat. Cully steals fabric softener sheets to roll around on, so did Ray. After a big show of chewing a vegetable, Cully either spits out a big glob of whatever or actually EATS a veg. Ray would never let a vegetable even TOUCH his lips. Cully is unsure around children; Ray could not contain his excitement. Cully is afraid of everything; Ray was fearless. Cully loves her new brain game (Christmas present) just as much as Ray loved his (brain games were his raison d'ĂȘtre).

Then there are the physical comparisons. Cully's ears are longer than Ray's. She doesn't have his stamina. Her voice is deeper and more melodious than Ray's (but let's face it, there will never be another fog horn crossed with a seal). Cully's legs are shorter but somehow she takes up more room on a couch than Ray. Cully doesn't have the dancing eyebrows that Ray had or his head tilt (I really miss these), but she has a tail wag that can't be beat. Cully is paws-y, she likes to touch her humans; Ray was careful where he put his paws.


The comparisons go on and on. I can't stop myself from making them but they make me realize something: We love Cully just as much as we loved Ray. She is more "special needs" than he ever was but it doesn't matter, I am grateful that she is here and that she reminds me every day of our amazing, 'gone but not forgotten' blind boy.