Saturday, August 6, 2011

The 5-Pound Tortie Terror of the Technical Community College

It all started yesterday. I'd returned from my morning walk with my dogs and went to put his royal Highness, Odin outside. (Odin goes out on a harness and retractable leash every day. Usually he finagles first thing in the morning by being generally beastly to all in his vicinity until we oblige and put him out. Then he patrols his gardens and hangs out under my car in the carport while we keep a watchful eye on him.)

Looks innocent, doesn't he?
I trundled him down the porch steps, one hand carefully looped in his harness, the other hand reaching for the snap of the retractable leash - which was wrapped around the railing. If only hindsight could be turned to foresight. Being the, um, let's just say efficient, shall we? person that I am, I trotted down the stairs, grabbed the leash, unintentionally flipping the snap and hitting Odin squarely on the forehead with a resounding "Thwack!" Whereupon he became a 17 lb mass of claws with hair. Two lacerations, one gouge, two deep punctures and a "Yeow!!!" later, we were both panting and crouched in our respective corners. Thankfully he did fight instead of flight and I was able to hook up his harness and go wash my wounds.

When I went for a walk this morning, I was able to hold Finn's leash in such a way that it draped my wounds without hurting.

Oh. Let me tell you about this morning. It's Saturday. We have NOTHING planned that can't wait until we've had a nice sleep-in until, say 6:30. Sounds delicious. Except for Echo threading her needle-nose followed by her fluffy head and ears, through the gap between my head and my arm. Repeatedly. At 4:30 AM! (Devil's spawn, I'm telling you!) So, at 5 AM I decided one of us (two actually - because Quill is a teenage boy when it comes to sleeping) should get to sleep in. I got up and went for my walk.

Finn on my left, Echo on my right, and we wended our way through the streets and the walkways of the nearby technical community college, sometimes power-walking, sometimes jogging, and even adding in a few 30-second sprints. It's a great way to wake up and it's a wonderful time of day -- sun not yet up, heat only beastly, not yet unbearable, and almost no cars.

Of course, part of being a good citizen is poop bags. We believe in recycling, protecting our environment, and decreasing our reliance on plastic, so we have these great poop bags that are biodegradable. Which means they're also not quite up to the task of some mornings' leavings. Consequently, I've been known to scoop up the poop, tie the bag, and sort of gingerly palm it until I can find a trash can (gotta love running on campus). Which is what I did this morning. Then we started off on our jog again, increasing our pace to a sprint. Which is when two squirrels dashed headlong across the road in front of us. We slowed to a jog as the dogs danced and wanted to give chase. That's when Finn's leash dragging across my hand reopened two of my marks of Odin. And the poop bag popped. And the 5 pound tortoise shell cat appeared.

The cat was marching across the road right at us, hackles up, howling a blue streak and doing that sideways stalk that cats do when they're really, really ticked off. So we kept walking, but she was coming at us fast. And my dogs wanted to go "visit". So I was playing twister with the dog leashes, trying to keep the poop bag upright (and the poop still in it), and encouraging my dogs to go North when they wanted to go South. All the while the recent stories of the increase in rabid animals in Cumberland County were going through my head and that darned cat was getting closer. Seriously. She was ready to take on my 85 lb borzoi (she could take him easily) and my 35 lb Belgian shepherd (not such a safe bet, really).

I actually turned, hissed and jumped toward her. She didn't care a whit. She kept coming at her steady pace, close enough that I had to grab collars to keep the dogs from reaching her. She actually was scaring me; I really thought she was going to launch herself at my dogs or create cat-scratch graffiti on my legs (Odin had left that part of me unscathed and I wanted to keep it that way). I stumbled and dragged the dogs away, Finn's body moving forward with me but his neck and head turned full around backwards toward that cat (amazing how borzois can do that). Thankfully, we were able to get away unscathed (unless you count my reopened wounds). But I'm afraid the Fayetteville Feline Fury probably didn't get her squirrels.

Tim tells me he's seen that cat multiple times and she's always that protective of "her" campus, so rabies probably isn't the cause of her behavior. Just shear cussed Southern bravery. Tomorrow we'll give wide berth to her haunts.
Returning from a walk with Echo and Finn