At the foot of the office door lays Starla, she of several names. They range from Starla, to the better known Action Dog, to Daddy’s Girl, to her full name:
Starla, What The Hell Are You Doing Now?
Starla is a hundred pound Collie/Alaskan Malamute mix (her (parents must have really loved each other) who came, like our other dogs, from a home where she was abused by people who had no business being owning any sort of animal.
Starla has been with us for close to 11 years now, with no signs of slowing down. One of her greatest joys is running across the yard, while I throw her frisbee. Or a tennis ball, if we’ve mislaid her frisbee, or even her poor lamb (whose best days are long behind her), a savage joy in her eyes as her muscular body into the air, and she throws the object at my feet, barking, “Throw it again, Daddy!”
It is a particular marvel to see her in in the ice and snow, running across the yard, never losing her footing, catching the frisbee more times than she misses, and trotting proudly back to me.
She does take it as a particular offense that there are creatures bigger than she is in the world. Once in Oklahoma, she strained to get off her leash and jump in amongst some buffalo grazing at a tourist rest stop, but her wishes weren’t granted.
It wouldn’t have been a good career move for Action Dog, but it wouldn’t have a great day for whatever buffalo she lit into, either, I suspect.
All was well in Starla’s world until Rose moved into our home.
As I write this, Rose it sitting on the other desk, glaring at me with a baleful eye, the sort of expression a thug in an old movie might have before deciding to gut you like a fish.
I’m not sure, but I sometimes think this may be a her look of affection, even what passes for love in Rose World.
Rose is an orange cat with white feet and orange markings on her throat. Rose is a monster. When she speaks, she uses, as Henry Higgins says in a My Fair Lady, “Language that would make a sailor blush.”
Rose came to us from a house which contained 30 cats. 30 cats! Were these people insane? Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that they never bothered to teach her how to use a cat box, which goes a long way to explaining their house.
I’m assuming the smell was their cat’s sanitary issues, and not their kids.
Anyway, poor Rose (who was already a couple of years old) had to be taught how to use a cat box - much against her will, being a cat and all. We put her in my bathroom - the messier of the two - and locked her in for a week until she learned. The only human she had contact with that week was me, when I brought her food in, and disciplined her for not using the cat box.
I became Food Guy. As in “Hey, Food Guy, get over here and do your damn job!”
A sort of spiritual bond was created between Rose and myself that week, the sort of bond only found in Mad magazine or Tales of the Unknown. Anyway, she became my cat. She will have nothing to do with anyone else.
Which is not to say that she is over-affectionate. In Rose’s world view, one day of affection goes a long way; she pretty much ignores me six days out of every seven.
Which brings us toe The Love That Dar Not Speak Its Name.
Starla, being possessive of her master, and Rose, being possessive of her property, hated each other almost instantly.
All of the dogs know that they are not to snap at the cats, but Rose has never felt herself under any such constraints. Many is the time that she has reared up like a boxer and hit a dog firmly in the face, just because they offended her by simply being alive.
The problem is that Rose is pretty sure - even at only about ten pounds or less - that she could take the dogs on in a fair fight. And after all these years, I’m wondering if the dogs don’t think so, too.
Even with the “no attacking cats” rule in play, Starla found plenty of ways to torment Rose in the beginning, and vice versa.
:And many is the occasion when I would take a nap in the middle of the day and I would awaken only to find Starla at the foot of the bed, eyes wide open, staring at Rose, who would be laying on the pillow, her eyes open, staring down Starla. They were both going to make sure I didn’t wake up and give the other some attention they themselves deserved, I supposed.
Many is the time I have wondered if I would awaken to find my body a bloody battlefield, with two crazed opponents battling it out for my soul.
In the last several years, though, a truce seems to have developed between Starla and Rose. Like two aging gunfighters they will make eye contact across the room, and then lay their heads back down. But lately there’s even more. Rose has been invading Starla’s space, something a buffalo might not even dare to do, especially since Action Dog doesn’t care for the other cats at all.
And I haven’t seen Rose hit Starla for quite some time now. Is it possible that I am at out of the equation altogether? And that it is just the Starla and Rose Show these days?
Should I start to feel jealous now?
Quote of the Day
Isn’t it queer. There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before, like larks in the field that have been singing the same notes over a thousand years. - Willa Cather
On the Air with Niketa Reed
Documentary film-maker Niketa Reed will be the guest this week on my show.
Reed will discuss her documentary, The Open Channel: Public Access Television and the People Next Door, which was her Master’s thesis project for the University of Arkansas. As might be evident from the title, it is an examination of public access television. Specifically, public access in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Reed assigned herself the monumental task of looking over hundreds of hours of videotape, and conducting many exhaustive interviews with those involved with public access over the past three decades - from the very beginnings of Fayetteville Open Channel to the early days of Access 4 Fayetteville, to the present Community Access Television.
Throughout, the passion and vision of those involved with public access shines through. This is a documentary that even someone who has little to no understanding of public access can watch and come away from with a deep appreciation of the medium.
Excerpts from the documentary will be shown during the program.
Show days and times
Tuesday - (noon)
C.A.T. is shown on Channel 18 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville.
Those outside the Fayetteville viewing area can see the program online at: