Is it June already? Wow! Today’s chapter is about some of the hottest days in the summer–at least in this region. Today’s blog is dedicated all those pet-people out there who will do anything for their pets–including spending the time and money bathing them in tomato juice when the situation warrants it! Happy Friday, Happy Reading….
Chapter 23—The Dog Days of Summer
The days without our girl seemed longer somehow. Things were made slightly worse by a heat wave that Grandma Brown called “The Dog Days of Summer”. Now, I am not sure exactly what she meant by that, but Bailey seemed to take it as some kind of compliment. Personally, I am inclined to think that if people are comparing something to a dog, it is because it is smelly somehow, ergo, it was my opinion that “the dog days of summer” wasn’t likely a good thing.
I made good on my promise to Lolly and I purred Grandma Brown to sleep every night. However, because of the heat, Grandma Brown preferred that I do so from the foot of her bed. Still, before she fell asleep, Grandma Brown would talk to me. She would tell me stories of the days when Lolly was a baby—the time before I came to be Lolly’s cat. Apparently Lolly cried a lot as a baby, and the only thing that would soothe her was a ride in Grandma’s red truck. Grandma Brown chuckled and told me that my ‘motor’ purr reminded Lolly of those days. Helping Grandma Brown feel less lonely for Lolly, helped me miss my girl less.
Purring Grandma Brown to sleep only happened at nights, and a cat has to find a way to make his time during the day pass as well. Fortunately my responsibility as head cat helped in that area. It was my job as head cat to make sure Bailey didn’t miss our girl too much. Keeping Bailey out of mischief during the day was a heady task. Some days I succeeded in keeping Bailey out of mischief, and yet other days, I succeeded in helping Bailey finding mischief.
One day, just after supper time, I found Bailey snuffling her way toward the ditch behind Grandma’s house. Bailey was busy talking to herself, “mmmmgoldenrodmmmm snuff mmmmfresh cut grass mmmmsnuffff no killdeers anywhere…snnnnufffffmmmmmmm…some dog walked here..mmmmmpooodle I think….snufff snuff mmmmm? New smellmmmmm must follow new smellmmmmmmm newsmellnewsmellmmmmmmm…” New smell? For a second I didn’t know what Bailey was talking about that wasn’t a new smell. Any animal worth his salt knew that smell belonged to a skunk. SKUNK!! It took me a second to realize that my dog was on her way to snuffle up a surfeit of skunks—and any cat worth his tuna knows a confrontation between a dog and a family of skunks rarely ends well for the dog.
I ran as fast as I could, calling to Bailey in my best head pet voice demanding that she stop and turn back. Bailey was smelly enough, she didn’t need any help from skunks in that department. When I finally got within earshot of Bailey, I yeowled, “Bail-ey nooooo skunksss stoppp Bail-ey…stoppp…” Just as I yelled Bailey’s name for the second time I saw a black tail pop up in the tall grass—it was the black tail of super-stink. I was running so fast that I couldn’t stop in time, and I got sprayed as well.
Fortunately for both Bailey and me, we got away in time before the mother skunk had a chance to strike at us. Paw-to-paw combat with a skunk often ends in rabies, and no pet wants rabies. As we were running back to Grandma’s house, Bailey kept whining and complaining about her nose and eyes stinging. As for me, I was panicking at the thought of what would be coming next: the bath. Unlike Bailey, I hadn’t had to suffer a bath since that muddy time with Otto at the window.
Grandma Brown has a sixth sense about these things, and she was waiting for us on the door step. She was so mad at us that I could almost see steam curling out from her ears. Her lips were pursed so tightly that you could hardly see her mouth—until she spoke, “Well this is a pretty piece of trouble you two have found! It’d serve both of you right to get rabies! You’re a proper waste of tomato juice you two are! You’d half expect this from Bailey—but you Oscar—what were you thinking?!”
The shame that welled up in me was overwhelming. I just looked at Grandma and tried to meow an apology. The mournful sound that came out of me was startling—so startling that I swear Grandma Brown very nearly chuckled. Bailey was still very busy trying to wipe the skunk spray from her eyes. Most dogs would have had an easier time of this than Bailey, but then again, most dogs have legs long enough that they can easily reach their face. Bailey’s legs were only a couple of inches long, and she couldn’t use her paw to clean her face—she tried, but to no avail. Between my pathetic meow, and Bailey’s attempts to wipe her eyes with her paw, all the rage in Grandma Brown seemed to wither into choked-back laughter.
While we were forgiven, Grandma Brown still insisted on giving us an “anti-skunking” bath, and let me tell you: there are worse baths than bubble baths. Since I posed the greatest flight risk, Grandma Brown “de-skunked” me first. She took me into the laundry room, put me in the laundry tub and showered me with something Grandma Brown called “tomato juice”. I did my best to limit my protests to yeowls and not use my claws. Grandma Brown said I sounded like I had “the devil in me screaming to get out”. I really don’t know what she meant by that, but if I had to guess, I would think she meant that I was louder than loud. When Grandma Brown done ‘de-skunking’ me, she opened the door to the laundry room, and I bolted out faster than lightning.
Bailey, oddly enough, was waiting at the door to get into the laundry room. She eagerly climbed into the laundry tub (with Grandma’s help) and lapped up every stray drop of that horrible stuff Grandma called “tomato juice”. Bailey was a strange dog, and she really did eat just about anything. Bailey’s enthusiasm for her ‘de-skunking’ was the last straw for Grandma Brown, and she started laughing and crying at the same time. Like all the other times Bailey found mischief, it ended with Grandma Brown commenting on how lucky Bailey was that she had Lolly on her side. This time, however, Bailey just leaned towards Grandma Brown and licked her square on the nose. Deep down, I think Bailey was starting to grow on Grandma Brown.
That night, despite her complaints about the smell, Grandma Brown let both Bailey and I help her fall asleep. I curled up at the foot of the bed, and purred, and Bailey curled up on the soft fuzzy rug beside Grandma’s bed. Before she fell asleep, Grandma Brown told us a story about when she herself was a little girl like Lolly. Our adventures with the skunks reminded Grandma of a time when she, as a curious little girl, brought home a baby skunk. She told us all about how badly she wanted a kitty of her very own, and how one day while exploring she had found this black and white stripey ‘cat’. She laughed as she remembered a time when she was about Lolly’s age, and how her mother made her sit and soak in a tub full of tomato juice until her hands went all wrinkly.
I watched as Grandma Brown’s belly shook with laughter at her memories. Thanks to Bailey, and her nose for misadventure, we both helped Grandma miss Lolly less. I purred a loud purr, and realized yet again just how wise my girl’s Grandma really is.