Friday, August 04, 2006

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

My parents visited last weekend and brought their 16-year-old American Eskimo. Niki has been an "only dog" his whole life. As a puppy, he wasn't crazy about other dogs (as suits his breed), but he has mellowed with age. Now he hangs out with his dog friends in the Villages and spends most his days sleeping or waiting for a crumb to fall.

Nanuq handled the interloper well. At first, he gave Niki dirty looks, but basically the two stayed out of each other's way. The kittens, however, did not respond as well. The photo to the right accurately portrays their expressions for most of the weekend. When Niki first came into the house, the kittens hid under the couch for several hours. When they emerged, I picked them up and brought them upstairs. This gave them the freedom to venture downstairs when they felt brave. Usually they'd walk gingerly halfway down the stairs, see Niki, and up the stairs they would go.

Tug was the first to conquer his fears of the great white beast. On Sunday he made his way downstairs, keeping a safe distance from Niki. Mookie eventually followed, but he shook terribly. I comforted him. Eventually, Mom, Dad and I went out and left the animals alone. To my surprise, everyone was downstairs when we returned. Not to my surprise, everyone's food had been eaten--by Niki. This theme would be repeated throughout the weekend, as the dog ate the cats' food and the cats tried to eat the dog's food.

By Monday, when my parents left, the animals had developed a delicate peace. At one point Niki went for the kittens' food, and Tug hissed and slapped his nose with his paw. My father, lover of cats that he is, said, "Why is he doing that? Niki didn't do anything."

Nanuq was fearless. He and Niki walked past each other the entire weekend, barely noticing one another's presence. We assumed Nanuq thought Niki was simply a larger version of himself.