You see, the favorite nursery rhyme is playing itself out right before my eyes. Yesterday the barn dog discovered a cat. Black and shivering, overtly skinny the black little bundle decided that our barn was the place to spend Thanksgiving.
Now first, let me say that I am NOT a cat person. Definitely NOT a cat person. Their lack of obedience, loyalty and self centered nature is not for me. Don't get me wrong, I love other people's cats and a soft kitten purring in your palm is a hear melter no matter who you are. But as for keeping a cat, I don't know how and don't know that I want to know. But lately, with the field mice finding homes in our out buildings, I have to say I have considered getting a farm cat, for the mousing factor alone.
Here's why I have not yet gotten a farm cat. I believe in spaying/neutering and vaccinating our pets. This is a vow I take seriously, the vow to properly care for the animals under our care. If I were to spend the money to vaccinate and spay a cat and then, as cats do, it decided that the pastures - or mice - were greener on the other side of the pasture and thus wandered off to another farm or to live in the wild, I would be angry. I have never had a cat. I don't know how to make a cat stick around if it lives outdoors or prevent it from leaving - even if it did like its home here, at some point, wouldn't it want to hunt elsewhere?
So when Millie the Barn Dog in doing her job decided that the black intruder in the barn had to go, I was really unsure of how to deal with it. This little black cat looking so weak and emaciated but yet with clear yellow eyes and even in her sad state a shiny black coat tugged at my heart strings.
The duel started in the barn where Millie fretted out the cat and grabbing it by the tail pulled it into the yard. The little black bugger growled and hissed, Millie barked and the duel was on. The En Guard was first followed by the Attack by the gingham dog and a Parry by the calico cats razor sharp claws. On and on until it caught the attention of Tall, Dark, and Handsome who quickly pulled me from the house to decide how to end the battle. With no other decision except total annihilation of one participant or the other on the horizon, separation seemed the only answer. The gingham dog was thus pulled kicking and screaming to the shop and the calico cat was left to wander off into the woods.
(I would have included photos in this blog post but all you would have seen was a blur of black and white and tan.)
It was Thanksgiving after all so my heart got the best of me and once inside the house, looking at the poor shivering creature still sitting in the snow, I decided it wouldn't hurt to feed it just a little. I quickly warmed some sausage we had in the fridge and put it into a bowl but by the time I got it to the woods the little black cat was gone. Later, when Millie was released from her prison in the shop she used what the Lord gave her to sniff out where it had gone but found the sausage instead.
This might have been the end of the story. Except...
You see Millie the barn dog has an outside kennel with a doggie door that allows her free access to her inside kennel where her heated dog house and heated water bowl and food bowl reside inside an enclosure in the barn. Every morning Millie appears in the outside kennel around 7:15 or so, just before I go to work. This morning, no Millie at 7:30. No Millie at 8:00. No Millie at 8:30. That's when I got worried and went to check on things and you guessed it. The little black furball had taken up residence in the barn again. I'm hoping the cat found it warmer than the outdoors and with the abundance of mice I'm hoping it found a meal or two overnight.
Here's where you come in. I removed Millie from the barn - she's pacing outside the barn door as I write. What's your opinion? What should I do? Let the Duel ensue or try to keep the cat around to act as mouser for those little varmints that Millie just can't reach? Millie does mouse - some - but as a larger dog there are places she just can't get to. If your suggestion is to let the cat stay - do I need to feed it or just ensure that Millie doesn't kill it? How do I end this duel so it doesn't end like the nursery rhyme? Please chime in. Or the Dutch Clock will be retelling his tale.
The Duelby Eugene Field
The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!) The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!) The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!) Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22063#sthash.Zj1cOFYW.dpuf