Chevy’s walking back and forth across the couch, demanding attention with her paws and her rather vocal meow, and he shakes his head. He can’t believe he not only has a cat, but he lets her on the furniture – the sofa wasn’t cheap and was one of the first acquisitions he’d made when he finally purchased his dream home.
Chevy’s now 5 months old and he swears the little gray bundle of energy grows more every day since he found her under the shrubbery in front of his a few months ago. As much as he would never admit it out loud, he’s pretty much wrapped around all four of her paws. He tramps on cat toys that are scattered throughout the house just about every day, for crying out loud!
Sports Center is just finishing the weekly wrap-up, that Chevy seems to watch just as intently as he does – it’s kind of creepy sometimes – when his cell rings. It’s an old college buddy he hasn’t heard from in years and after exchanging pleasantries and memories, they start to catch up on what’s been going on.
Turns out his friend has become a bit of a victim of the economy – lost his job and his apartment and is pretty desperate for a place to stay. He thinks it’s ironic that just a few months ago he was feeling the emptiness of the house and now he has a kitten and a new roommate.
He just didn’t know how many more would be coming when he agreed on the phone to take in his college pal. He’s more than a bit surprised when his buddy shows up the following week on his doorstep – his entire life shoved into a beat-up Dodge Charger – and two friendly, but rambunctious black labs.
Shock steals his voice for a second and he opens his mouth to speak when the two dogs charge past him into the house and immediately make a beeline for Chevy.
The two men shout words that would probably make both of their mothers cringe and the chase is most definitely on.
His buddy periodically hollers “Gabe” and “Lucy” and “oh-my-word-I’m-so-sorry.” He assumes the first two are the names of the dogs, having missed the opportunity to be formally introduced. Chevy must have determined their arrival heralded the apocalypse and not only took flight but also puffed herself up to double her normal size. The feline shrieks and hisses are probably loud enough to concern the neighbors.
The five of them careen and bounce off furniture and photos and books and remote controls and he only just saves his shelves of DVDs from toppling by a last minute lunge across the room.
He doesn’t think there’s a single section of the house they didn’t cover by the time his friend gets the dogs under control and Chevy has found refuge somewhere away from the humans and canines.
It’s not how he would have liked to have given his new guest a tour, but it’s somewhat effective. After apologies and a few chuckles and a proper introduction of Lucy and Gabe, he sets out to fix the disarray of his house and find Chevy.
The kitten is huddled under his bed and if looks could talk, she’d be cussing at him – probably bad enough to rival a sailor.
He’s immediately contrite and knows enough not to even try to reach for her. Instead, he pitches his voice low and soothing to calm her. “Oh baby, I’m so sorry,” he murmurs. “That was really bad and not how I should have done it. I know you’re scared, but can you try to be friendly? Maybe?”
She blinks her green eyes and the expression is incredibly sarcastic. He can tell. He’s gotten good at reading feline.
The next few weeks are a little like uncertain warfare. Chevy will venture out of the bedroom on occasion, only to let her displeasure known at finding two canines still very much in the house.
The dogs in question actually turn out to be incredibly great company – despite the need for constant walks – and the humans try to blend the two different species as often as possible so everyone can get along.
Eventually – and really it happens so gradually that he notices it long after it’s already come to pass – Chevy becomes the queen of the house. Once the dogs learn about her claws, they give her a relatively wide berth and she eventually trains the humans to run to her side whenever she meows.
It’s actually Superbowl Sunday when the picture becomes clear. They order a ridiculous amount of food – pizza, nachos, wings, chips and dip, nothing healthy in the bunch – and settle down on the couch to watch the game. The dogs are stretched out under and around their legs and Chevy walks in.
She takes a moment to actually make eye contact with all four occupants of the room and the air becomes heavy with anticipation. The men and canines are practically frozen in their respective spots.
Chevy crosses to the couch, stepping on Lucy as she goes without a backward glance – and the dog’s too alarmed at the possibility of claws to even twitch – and settles herself between the bowl of popcorn and bag of chips and starts into her nightly bathing ritual.
He crunches on a nacho, loaded with all the fixin’s, and realizes he can’t remember what it was like to come home to an empty house. As the sour cream mixes with the refried beans to create a delight for his tastebuds, he knows that even though his life is not what he pictured, he would absolutely not have it any other way.
Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected]. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website www.cvas-pets.org. CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.