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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • JOSHUA'S COLUMN — Adventures in cat herding

  • Have you ever heard the expression that such-and-such a frustrating experience “is like herding cats”? I’ve actually been witnessing real-life examples of someone trying it.
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  • Have you ever heard the expression that such-and-such a frustrating experience “is like herding cats”? I’ve actually been witnessing real-life examples of someone trying it. I’ve written before about how the Dixon family now shares our house with two dogs — Rufus and Raffi — and two much more recently acquired cats — Marmie and Beatrice. The cats have, until a few weeks ago, been strictly indoor creatures. However, with the nice weather we’ve kept the back door open so the dogs can head out the doggy-door into the fenced-in back yard. Now, cats can make use of doggy-doors, too. The first time they tried the result went something like this (English translation follows): Beatrice (poking her head out the doggy-door and looking around): “Meow?” Marmie (staying back and watching): “I don’t think so.” (Marmie takes a few steps back and watches wide-eyed, as if expecting Beatrice to be struck by a meteor or something.) Beatrice (planting both front legs out onto the bricks outside): “Meow?” Raffi: “Gaaaaaaah! Rufus, come here! Come here at once!” Rufus: “Certainly Raffi. What seems to be the... Gaaaaah!” Raffi: “The littler of the scary dog-like beings that aren’t quite dogs is going into our back yard!” Rufus: “But Raffi, that’s our back yard!” Raffi: “I know!” (Beatrice jumps through the doggy-door and is now completely encased in three-dimensional yard-space. She takes a few tentative steps toward the grass.) Rufus and Raffi: “Gaaaaaah!” (Raffi bolts through the doggy-door and jumps in front of Beatrice, blocking her from going any further toward the grass.) Raffi: “Go inside! Go inside, dog-like being! You can’t be outside. You mustn’t! Oh please, go inside, go inside, go inside!” Beatrice (trying to stroll around Raffi): “Meh.” (Raffi swerves to stay in front of Beatrice. Raffi — who’s normally scared of the cats — even uses her snout to nudge Beatrice back toward the doggy-door.) Beatrice (trying to get past Raffi and out onto the lawn): “Meh.” Rufus (glaring at Marmie): “Well? Do something!” Marmie: “Nothing terrible seems to be happening to the littler cat. Maybe I’ll give that ‘outside’ place a try, too.” (Marmie creeps to the doggy-door and pushes his way outside, onto the porch.) Rufus: “Gaaaaaaaaaah!” (Rufus hops through the doggy-door and joins Raffi outside in pushing the cats back inside with his snout.) Rufus: “Go back inside the house! If you go though the chain link fence and go away, the humans might blame me!” Raffi: “If you go more than a few feet away from the house, you might get lost!” Marmie: “Hmmm. You may be right.” (Marmie ducks back into the house through the doggy-door once he figures out how to work it from the outside.) Marmie: “Whew!” Raffi: “One down, one to go. Now, smaller dog-like being, you go inside, too.” Beatrice (still trying to get past Raffi): “Meow!” Raffi: This calls for drastic measures.” (Raffi reaches out with her front paw and presses down on Beatrice’s back, holding her down.) Rufus: “Raffi!” Beatrice: “Meow?!” Raffi: “Please go inside the house, little dog-like being, or I will put my paw on your back and hold you down a second time.” Beatrice: “Mee-ow.” * (Beatrice scoots back inside.) Raffi: “Well, that’s over with. I’m sure everything will be fine now.” * “Very well, this round is thine, but verily I must needs labor again to enter the back yard when thou aren’t here, oh overbearing cat-like being.”

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