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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From the yukon Journal - Monday, April 19, 1976

A guy from Teslin Lake we met at Haines Junction weigh scales and his woman stopped by on their way home from fishing at Haines, Alaska. They caught 5 Dolly Varden.

Gave us two for the cat.
As I recall, the cat got the head and fins. Dolly Varden is good fish, and we weren't too proud to eat someone's bag limit overflow... or whatever they were. The cat's name was Bagheera - named after the panther in Kipling's 'Jungle Book'. This was before I knew my frequent colds etc were due in part to animal allergies. He was a gorgeous fellow, huge, gentle and patient, once he got over his kittenhood belief that he was the most dangerous creature on 4 legs. Unlike every other cat I've ever known, Baggy came when called. He had the famous Siamese yowl, but, for the most part he didn't have a lot to say, unless he thought he was late for lunch. The strong, silent type. A purr like an idling tank. He came into the family just a few months after we got the German Shepherd pup... the one mentioned a while ago, who had porcupine radar. On arrival, Baggy entertained us for weeks at the dog's expense, with his fierce attacks. His favorite skulking hideaway was just behind the woodstove in the kitchen of the house we rented before heading to the Yukon. The dog was half grown by then, so he was too big to fit in the space between the woodstove and the kitchen wall. This became the kitten's private domain, as he was brand new, and hardly more than a pocketful full of creamy fluff.

The dog was Kochise. He loved everybody, without any bias as to race, species or gender. He especially loved that vicious little Siamese kitten. He responded to attack after attack with a smile and a wagging tail, certain that they'd soon be friends. The kitten wasn't convinced. He stalked and pounced, scratched and bit until he learned that the monster dog's most vulnerable spot was his big black nose. Baggy would skulk and peep until he saw Kochise nod off to sleep on the floor near the stove, then skitter out on tiptoe and POUNCE right on that big, black defenseless nose. Kochise would waken with a confused yelp to 20 needle sharp claws embedded in his tender nose. It wasn't a game. Baggy was out for blood - certain he was big enough and tough enough to take on anything. So the poor dog would paw - always gently - and lick and whine until he could dislodge the wretched feline from his injured proboscis. He'd lick the blood off with tears in his eyes, while the rotten cat skittered back to his vantage point to plan the next skirmish.

On a brisk fall day, they were each napping in their favorite spots near the crackling stove. Bagheera woke, stretched, and peered with evil blue eyes from behind his fortress. Aha! The monster slept. Perhaps he wasn't quite awake yet, or maybe he thought he'd try a new angle of attack. Whatever the reason, on this particular day, he leaped, not for the nose, but onto the end of Kochise's tail, sinking claws and teeth into it with fierce delight. The dog, of course, awoke immediately, lifting his head to look over his shoulder for the cause of the pain in his tail..... and broke into a toothy grin. It was his little friend the kitty! The tail began to wag. Thud! With .... thunk.... the kitten... konk.... attached.... whump. Thud. Thunk. Whump. Konk. Thump. Bonk. Clunk. Thud.

Stunned nearly to unconsciousness, the fearless predator lost his grip and tumbled to the floor. He was then scooped up by a careful black and tan paw, held down by another huge black and tan foot, and licked until he was a slobbery, slimy, dripping dog breath smelling mess. A few half-hearted feeble hisses and spits were vanquished by a tongue bigger than his body. They were fast friends from that moment onward. Until the cat got too big for this method of transportation, the dog liked to carry him by the head. He'd take the cat's whole head in his mouth, with the limp and completely relaxed cat's body hanging out the side. There was seldom any complaint about this. If Kochise was less careful than he might be, Baggy would reach up with a paw and poke the dog's nose lightly with a claw as a reminder to be more careful.

As they both reached maturity, they were often found curling up together at nap time, Baggy between Kochise's front paws, or at his belly, and they'd groom each other before they nodded off. When we travelled to the Yukon, at every pit stop, they'd leap out of the truck and rush off to explore. When the time came to hit the road again, at the sound of a bellowed "Kochise!......... Bagheera!" the enormous pointed ears of the German Shepherd and the brilliant blue eyes of the Siamese would appear from the shadows, each above its respective smile.


susan said...

You got me curious enough about the Dolly Varden I had to look them up. It was interesting to see they were named by a girl with a new style of dress - a bright petticoat with muslin atop. Neat. Why is it, I wonder, they were a gift for the cat? They certainly look to be edible.

I shall return.

Ron said...


Gorgeous cat you have!

I had a cat that was part Siamese. She was quite the talker!

Hope you're enjoying a great week!


gfid said...

Susan - I don't recall, exactly why they GAVE them to the cat, but I have a fuzzy half memory suggesting that the cat only got the leftovers. Dollies are a type of trout, and delicious. I didn't know that about the petticoats.... they're lovely fish.

Ron - cat's name was Bagheera, named after the Jungle Book panther. He, like most Siamese, also had a lot to say. Feels like snow today. Bloody cold. It'll be a good week (extending to 4 or 5 months) to stay inside next to the fire, with a book and chocolate.

linda said...

they have the most amazing colorations! wow!! and they are like a trout? you are hunkering down for what??? i think i would just simply lose my frigging mind were i to have that weather to look forward to and for sooooo long...i am native calif. thus snow is not my friend. some love it, i hate it excepting when we have a dusting now and then-then it's a beautiful wonder for the brief time it exists.

lovely kitty too. :) blessings to you -- drink lots of cocoa!

clairesgarden said...

yes I've had dogs and cats in the household become firm friends too. your two there sound like a lot of fun.

susan said...

What a wonderful story you've told about an unlikely but also not uncommon friendship between two distinctly different pets. I felt sorry for Kochise getting his nose pricked by needle sharp claws and remaining so patient throughout every kittenish torture session. You described the scene so well I could see it happening too.

We had a similar pair for many years. Our dog Garth was already about 6 when the kitten Multi was born in our son's closet. Her mother was a stray who disappeared before her three kittens were weaned but happily they were strong enough to be hand fed. Garth was besotted with them and followed them to their every hiding place. The other two were adopted but Multi stayed and the two of them often shared a hearth or a sunny spot.

Thanks for reminding me of their beauty.

gfid said...

Linda - Dollys are gorgeous AND delicious. I've forbidden the 's' word at my ReStore in hopes that denial might prevent the white stuff from showing up.... to no avail. There's a skiff of fluff this a.m. and more on the way. Gonna have to pass on the cocoa, though... put on some weight recently and working on getting rid of it (and into my winter clothes)

Claire - humans could take some lessons from the way animals can learn to get along, couldn't we?

Susan - your Garth and Kochise must have shared the lovey dog gene. Kochise was wonderful with babies of any kind.