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Opinion: Hot weather brings animal visitors

First published in The News Tribune, Tacoma on July 26, 1985.

The recent hot weather has resulted in some unusual visitors to my neighborhood.

Take the other night, when Mrs. Doud and I were at home with the doors open to admit a trace or two of breeze. We did not expect the open doors to admit what walked in, which was the biggest dog in the world, a cream-colored Irish wolfhound.

Now, I may be exaggerating a bit on that. Somewhere there may be a bigger dog than the one that walked into our open door, and if so I apologize to that dog right now. I do not, however, in apologizing, invite it over for a visit, because the dog that showed up was big enough.

I was sitting at the dining room table reading and Mrs. Doud was in the kitchen, talking on the phone. When I happened to look up and see the dog, he was strolling into the living room.

“Ye Gods!” I said.

The dog didn’t respond, but continued a leisurely stroll into the living-dining room, as though he lived there and had just come in from a hard day chasing cars. (This dog, however, would have caught the cars and brought them home with him.) He didn’t even give ma a glance, but headed for the kitchen — which wasn’t surprising, because that’s usually what I do when I first walk in the door.

“We have a visitor,” I said to Mrs. Doud, who was absorbed in her phone conversation and hadn’t seen what was headed toward her.

She looked up, looked a second time and said, “Yipe!

“A monster just walked into the house,” she reported to the person on the other end of the line.

Then she hopped out of her chair and maneuvered it into the kitchen doorway, between herself and the dog.

By that time, I had worked my way bravely to the front door, undecided whether to keep going or try to coax the dog outside with me. I decided to try coaxing just once, before high-tailing it down the street. I whistled, and the dog turned, shrugged its shoulders and followed me. Once the dog was outside, I went back in and closed the front door.

Then we started to try to figure out why the dog had come inside in the first place. Mrs. Doud thought that because it was headed for the kitchen, it wanted a handout. At the time, I agreed.

On reflection, though, I think it came inside because that was the most direct route, through the open back door, to the back porch, where another strange visitor, and ill-tempered, gray cat, has been staying during the evenings of warm weather.

This cat sleeps among some mint plants in a planter box, and leaps at me in a karate posture when I leave for work in the mornings. This always manages to scare the devil out of me, because when I am on my way to work I am usually trying to remember whether I have my keys, and have all my buttons buttoned. I hardly ever think about being attacked by a cat. The cat, therefore, has the advantage of surprise.

If I had known at the time that the world’s biggest dog was using our house as the most direct route toward the world’s peskiest cat, I would have ushered him through with ceremony.

As it is, I may just put up a few yard signs that say, “This Way to the Cat.”

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