Life was going along pretty smoothly for my siblings and me. We were getting used to our puppy brothers and sisters, and even though we missed our momma cat terribly, momma dog was doing her best to make us happy.
Momma dog also spent a lot of time teaching us good manners, and I must say I was a particularly good student! I learned right away how to wag my tail when I was happy and how to bite down just hard enough to tell my brothers and sisters that they were hurting me. I learned the fine art of butt-sniffing and how to tell where anyone had been just by the scent around their tails. And even though I couldn’t yap as well as my puppy siblings, I did figure out how to make a sound that at least resembled a bark.
I tried to teach my dog siblings how to purr — and I even shared with them the ancient secret of how to purr — alas, to no avail. No matter how hard they tried, all they could do was growl. Silly pups!
But still, I felt like I belonged, like I was a part of this great big, rough-and-tumble, rolling, panting and purring family. It was so comfortable, and momma dog had the most wonderful, thick, long fur that made a perfect cuddling nest. I really enjoyed sitting the deep fluff on her shoulders as she surveyed her domain through the arched door of her house.
Then one day, something really strange happened! Through the doorway of our house, I saw the shadow of a huge monster that walked on two legs. I growled and backed up next to momma dog, who told me, “It’s okay, that’s just the human puppy. She’s fine.” Well, I calmed down a little bit as I heard momma dog’s tail softly thumping on the ground, but I still hung close to her as the monster approached.
The monster bent down and I saw its feet (each one was as big as me) and its strange stick-like legs. But it wasn’t until I saw its face that the true horror set in. I followed the puppies’ lead and cuddled in even closer to momma dog. I think I even tried to hide under a pile of puppies.
And then, the eldritch screech: “KIITTTTYYYYYYYYYY!” My ears flattened to my head, and before I knew it I was on all fours, back arched, fur sticking out from my head to the tip of my tail. I hissed and spat as loudly as I could, but the monster reached in with its terrifying paw and picked me up! As my feet left the ground, I panicked and lashed out with all my claws and my teeth. The monster’s scream changed to a horrifying wail as she dropped me unceremoniously on the ground and ran away.
Having valiantly defended my siblings — and my momma dog — from the monster’s tortures, I stalked back inside and settled down for a good wash.
“You silly kitten,” momma dog said to me. “I told you that human pups were harmless. Now the pup is going to go inside and tell her mother about you.”
My pride melted away into shame and fear. “What’s a human pup’s mother look like?” I asked. “And what’s she going to do to us? Is she going to put us in a stew and eat us, like momma cat told me she would?”
“Young fool! Around here, humans don’t eat cats. I don’t care what your kitty momma told you; you’re going to be all right. Although I had hoped I could hide you kittens for a little while longer …”
I could feel in my heart that momma dog had left some words unsaid. But I didn’t have a chance to ask her more because the monster came back, this time with an even bigger monster!
“Nimue, what have you got in there?” the bigger monster said (I could tell it was the bigger monster because her voice was lower.)
It’s not a monster! Nimue thought at me. If it’s possible for a thought communication to sound annoyed, this one sure did. It’s a human, and humans are just fine. Especially these humans. They’re my family!
Momma dog stuck her head out of the house and gave the humans a charming panting smile. Her tail thumped against the wall, and all of us started wagging, too. That’s the way it is in the world of dogs: When one wags, all wag. It means everything is okay.
“Let me have a look,” the big human said. Nimue let the person push her aside just a little bit, and then a giant, bright light shone into our little home. “One. Two. Three. Four … and five!”
“You’ve been taking care of five kittens, sweetie?” the big human said. “How on earth did that happen?”
I could sense the flow of images, smells, sounds, thoughts and feelings as momma dog remembered our momma, their long-time friendship, and the heartbreak and awe she’d felt when our momma-cat entrusted our care to her. But it was like they all bumped up against a wall in the human’s head and tinkled down to the ground in a rain of ethereal shards.
Even though it was obvious the human received few if any of the thoughts momma dog sent her, she still showered our momma-dog with love and pets and adoration. “What a wonderful, amazing dog you are!” Momma dog’s wagging thumps got so hard I thought our house would fall over on its side!
“It’s okay, little kittens,” the big human said. “You’re safe here, and we’ll make sure you find good homes.” She reached in toward me, and I shied away.
“It’s all right, little one,” momma dog told me. “This human’s hands feel kind and soft.”
I took one tentative step forward and sniffed at the human’s outstretched finger. Then I let her use that finger to rub the top of my head. It felt kind of good, actually. But I didn’t want to be too easy, so I crept behind momma dog and watched the human pet the puppies.