Saturday, October 18, 2014

breaking down change, two: Josie & Elliott

In this move west, Josie seems to have fared a bit better than Elliott. But Josie is a dog and Elliott is a cat. And Josie had the advantage of staying with me. As soon as we got to California, I pawned Elliott off on a friend of a sister. Any licks or switches or punches you want to give me, go ahead, for my judgement in this matter was greatly impaired.

Don’t get me wrong—Elliott was in a wonderful home with a marvelous hostess. He had his own little door for going out, coming in. He was well cared for. He was duly admired. And he got into a big predicament and the fire department was called and various reinforcements were brought in and a hole had to be sawed in a cabinet and still, Elliott was welcomed, or at least allowed to stay.


Elliott and Josie in Michigan.

How did this happen?

To get to California with what seemed the least fuss, I accepted a very casual, informal, private, quasi rental-type housing situation that left Elliott homeless. Yes, I know better than this. But yes, this happened. You know those cartoons where there is a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? I don’t have either. Instead, what I got is a dunce and a smart person and they both live inside my head and sometimes I end up listening to the dunce. “Don’t worry!” he says. (Yes, he is male, I don’t know why.) “Don’t pass this up! It’ll work out! It sounds great! Do this! It was meant to be!”

And you know what—you can always find evidence for “this was meant to be.”

So I agreed to this informal arrangement and lo and behold options for Elliott popped up and I believed all was well and would be well. But mostly I avoided thinking about it. Then a week ago Elliott could no longer stay where he was and there was nowhere else for him to go so he came here, where he was not allowed. I did the responsible thing and told my quasi, informal, not-really-a-landlord person that Elliott was now here with me, and I thought maybe there was someplace else Elliott could go in a week or two (remember Cousin Frankie?), and then I realized that the only place for Elliott is with me.

So what happens next? Good question.

Meanwhile, Josie runs alongside the ocean, chasing shore birds, hopping away from waves, occasionally getting doused by seawater and shaking it off. We walk around our neighborhood and he pees on every bush and cornerstone (or so it seems) and gets excited when he sees another dog and growls at most people. He has met a ton of new people and is getting along with that OK—it takes a bit for him to warm up to someone. Josie is, at heart, a big sissy and the safest place, he figures, is next to me, behind me, or, in dire circumstances, in my arms. He is not this way with dogs, and he likes his cousins Pearl and Oola, though sometimes they seem to worry him. I don’t know why.

Pearl and Oola, last year.

For the moment, all is well. The door to the deck stays open so Josie and Elliott can choose to snooze inside or out. Josie likes to catch a spot in the sun once in a while. Elliott likes to hunker down and watch the many birds—the crows, the gulls, the hummingbirds, the doves, the what-have-yous. Strangely enough there is a mallard couple that hangs out just up the road. Elliott does not go up there so does not see them, but Josie and I often see them on our morning walk. He chases them, lunging at the end of his leash, and the ducks waddle away, eventually take flight. Some afternoons, rather than going to the beach, Josie and I walk to the nearby marina to look at the boats coming and going as well as the ones just bobbing in their slips. Gulls are ever-present, and sometimes there are pelicans. There is also a seal in the harbor, and one afternoon we watched him (or her) lazing through the water, surfacing slowly, leading with his big black head then showing off the length of his long black body before slipping back under water.

ventura harbor
Lots of blue at the marina.

On the trip out here, in the motels, Josie and Elliott began playing together. Elliott started it, slowly getting Josie’s attention by hiding just around a corner of a bed and then making a sudden move—maybe a sidle-step-hop switch, a forward dash, or a lunge-retreat—as Josie passed by. Josie would respond with full-alert shock—Oh! Are we playing!?!—and then bounce around on the bed, throw his rump in the air, growl a bit, eventually chase Elliott the length of the room. Now here, back in the fold, Elliott is doing the same, getting Josie’s attention in some off-hand way and starting a ruckus. In the evenings especially there is a bit of running through the house, the heavy patter of a dog chasing a cat, a cat chasing a dog, and I’m pretty sure this is how it is meant to be.

dog tail
Josie and Elliott - The End.
Or is it just the beginning???

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