Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dolphin and Elsi

Say hello to Elsi Dodge's charming kitty, Dolphin. You may remember Dolphin's travelmate who joined us during Dog Month, the equally-charming Lady.

I had to laugh at Elsi's sharing that she always wanted a gray kitty. That same desire got me stuck with BadCat!

Sounds like Dolphin could teach BadCat a thing or two!

What kind of cat is he and how old is he? (Dolphin answers this one.)

I am a brilliant saber-toothed tiger, cleverly camouflaged as a tabby cat. I’m almost five, and I’m sure I’m going to learn to drive soon. When I do—and as soon as I’ve conquered the task of opening cat food cans—I’m taking the RV and striking out on my own!

How did your cat become part of your family?
I was on vacation in Florida, swimming with the dolphins at Discovery Cove, when my 18-year-old cat died. She’d been home with a sitter, and Lady (beagle) was in a kennel. Lady was devastated at having her best friend gone; she would search the house, crying. She kept telling me, “If you loved me, you’d get me another kitty friend!”

I thought I’d get a dolphin-colored (gray) kitten and call it Dolphin, or any kitten and call it Mellon (which is elvish for Friend). A buddy called me one evening to say, “There’s a gray kitten at the pet shop; come quick!” I know better than to get a pet shop animal, but Lady wanted a new friend, so I just went to look …

I brought the adorable baby home at once. He barely filled my cupped hand, but had a purr that filled the house! I set him down on the living room rug and said, “Lady, here’s your new kitty friend!”

Lady came over and sniffed him, delicately and respectfully. And Dolphin swore at her! He said … on second thought, I can’t write the words he said, but they were BAD! Lady was devastated.
They’ve reached a mutual cooperation agreement now, but every once in a while Lady looks at Dolphin in utter bewilderment.

What is the most annoying and/or astounding thing your cat has ever done?

Dolphin’s a funny little guy. He was ill with giardia when I got him, and only about five weeks old (which is illegal here). But returning him to the pet store wouldn’t have helped him, so … But he’s an unbonded child, suffering from attachment disorder. He lives in his own world, and tolerates the rest of us. He loves traveling in the RV. He chases the windshield wipers; I’m sure he thinks they’re pterodactyls. He’s apparently a member of Homeland Security, and takes his responsibilities seriously. Without him, we would be overrun by terrorist rabbits, squirrels, and robins.

But with all that, the above picture is still the most astounding thing I’ve seen. I pulled into a gas station, glanced at the passenger seat … and there he sat!

How does your cat’s companionship enrich your life?
I always have something to laugh at when Dolphin’s around. He has his own slant on life, and doesn’t really understand why I don’t see things the same way. He is a happy traveler, loves to go for walks on his harness and leash, slaps the dog when he’s mad at me, bites me in the ankle when I punish him for something (and then we’re even and can be friends again).

What does your cat teach you about God?
Dolphin, my pudgy, strange cat, has always been quite certain the world is his kitty toy. He is confident it was created for his pleasure, and for him to use as he chooses. After all, isn’t the world full of people who want to feed and pat him? And many of them wear dangly earrings, long scarves or belts, fringed sleeves and hems, or floppy shoelaces—all clearly meant for cats to play with. Not to mention keys, coins, and spoons, all sitting on the counter waiting to be batted about, and flies and windshield wipers just waiting to be chased, and birds and squirrels outside the window … oh, it is a wonderful world, and everything in it is intended as a plaything for him!
Dolphin has a strange sense of justice. He will not tolerate being restrained or constrained as he goes through his day. The world has been made for him, and he should be free to enjoy it. He has discovered that his mama (me) has a different attitude and, reluctantly, he makes a few allowances for my prejudices (at least, until he learns to open cat food cans). He doesn’t bite me when I’m asleep, he refrains from walking under my accelerator foot in the RV, and he allows me to retrieve him when he escapes to the great outdoors.

He will not, however, tolerate being held down or squirted with water, no matter how naughty he’s been. For example, he enjoys shredding the side of the sofa, though only when I’m there to be bothered by it. He will scratch, then look to see if I’ve noticed. A flick of his tail says, You’re not the boss of me! Then he goes back to scratching, secure in his knowledge that he’s put me in my place.

When I tell him, “NO!” the tail twitches faster. Yes, indeed, he’s showing me who’s boss!
A firmer NO earns me another look. If I’m threatening him, he evaluates the profit/loss ratio (is it worth it? yes!) and continues. And when I squirt him, he is shocked. How dare you? He immediately stops what he was doing and leaves.

Within a minute or two, however, he is back. He walks up to me and nips me in the ankle. Now we are even—I punished him, and he retaliated—and we can be friends again.

Just after 4th of July, I went to Breckenridge with friends. Kaitlyn, 16, bullied Dolphin, rolling him about and forcing his compliance. Soon all she had to do was touch his forehead and remind him, “Calm!” and he would settle down.

To my surprise, this effect has stuck. He allows me to rub his tummy and tousle his ears. He purrs and snuggles. And when he forgets and starts to use his teeth, all I have to do is reach out a finger to the fur between his eyes and tell him, “Be calm,” and he stops!

Oh, I am so much like my cat! I know how the world should function, and I get irritated when it doesn’t work out my way. “That’s not fair!” is often my response when I lose something, when I’m late, when there’s road construction on my highway, when I run out of shampoo.
I panicked when I lost my credit cards, praised the Lord when we were able to replace them, and found myself highly indignant when the replacement cards were delivered late. How dare they interfere with my trip?!

So what am I saying? Maybe I’m quoting Romans 9:14: “Is God unjust? Not at all!”

In any event, I see God, leaning down in love, pressing His finger on my forehead and saying, “Be calm. Be still, and know that I AM God.”

And I roll over, paws relaxed, purring softly—secure in the knowledge that God is in control. I don’t have to worry about making things right. He’s in charge. What happens “does not, therefore, depend on [my] desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).


Bonnie Calhoun said...

What a great story. Dolphin acts like my Buddha-bellied Misty, but she's black like BadCat!

Kay said...

What a great cat!

Pam Halter said...

Thanks for sharing Dolphin with us! He's a beautiful cat. I do feel bad that Lady doesn't have a buddy, though.

Elsi Dodge said...

Pam, Lady sends grateful wags and licks for your compassionate response! She too feels bad that Dolphin isn't more of a friend to her. But her mature approach to life allows her to tolerate his oddness and keep me as her best friend!