January 6, 2016 by The Dog Rules
Dog was delighted when I brought home the little orange fuzzball. He was not at all fearful of her and walked right up to introduce himself. Clearly he was accustomed to dogs. Mere moments after I put him down he ran riot through the house chasing invisible things, investigating EVERYTHING, climbing into drawers, boxes, cupboards, until he wore himself out – in about 20 minutes. I discovered the napping Ginger Ninja near her. He was curled up on the edge of her blanket. In short order they became good friends and learned to make their own games together.
As Dog aged and became more frail the Ninja watched over her. This role change developed slowly. When someone came to the door and Dog didn’t notice, Ninja would run to where she was dozing on her blanket, wake her and indicate to her that there was a dog job to be done. At that point she would rise and walk stiffly toward the door while sniffing audibly to identify the visitor. Ninja would follow her. Dog would make her decision and give either the friendly woof of Welcome or the low rumble of Go Away. He trusted her judgement completely. If Dog delivered the low growl, the Ninja vanished. Eventually Dog reached the point where she didn’t want to go through the effort of getting up and would just roll up on to her chest and sniff toward the door. Sometimes she was sleeping so soundly that the Ninja didn’t rouse her.
Shortly after Dog passed someone came to the door. I heard them and my hands were full. They hadn’t yet knocked or rung the bell and I heard the quick bop, bop, bop, bop of the Ninja toward the door. He’s so loud that I swear sometimes he’s wearing work boots that he’s too lazy to tie the laces on. He stopped at the exact same place Dog would stand to do her visitor assessment with his full attention on the door. Then he whirled and ran to stand in front of me and looked back over his shoulder toward the door at the precise moment the visitor knocked. Ninja chirped his happy greeting zooming over to welcome our guest. Upon opening the door I saw a good friend who was a favorite of both Dog and the Ninja. I invited her in and described the behavior I had just witnessed. Never before had I noticed Ninja actually “answer” the door like Dog. All of his responses had been clearly learned from her. He was behaving much more like a dog than a cat. My Golden Retriever Cat!