Ace and the cat next door have become steadfast friends, hanging out together most days in the backyard. But their relationship has clearly evolved, as I guess most do.
Ace still seems thrilled every time he sees Tom. They still play chase. They still engage in their form of wrestling — Ace poking Tom with his nose, Tom swatting Ace in the head with his paws.
But Ace no longer is totally obsessed with the cat, no longer smothering him with attention, no longer constantly in Tom’s face. Ace used to follow Tom wherever he went. But as Tom has become less elusive, Ace has become less fascinated. As the months have gone by, it’s Tom who’s now more likely to follow Ace, and instigate the play. Tom still seems to send a message that says “chase me,” but Ace doesn’t always play along, sometimes preferring to just watch, or scratch himself, or look for something he might deem edible.
On Sunday Ace was minding own business in the shared yard behind my apartment, chewing on a bully stick. Thomas slowly approached and circled him, nuzzled him a few times and swung his tail into his face.
Ace looked up, but kept chewing. Seeming to sense Ace’s disinterest, Tom went his own way, disappearing for a time.
Ace, focused on his treat, seemed to forget about him — until, 10 minutes later, he spotted him in the distance, under my parked car. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek November 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, behavior, cat, cats, cats and dogs, college village, dogs, friends, north carolina, out of reach, pets, relationships, stale, taken for granted, thomas, tom, travels with ace, winston-salem
The love affair continues between Ace and the cat next door.
It started at my neighbor’s front window, where her new cat, Tom, would lay in the sunshine when she wasn’t at home. Tom was tiny then, just a few weeks old. And there seemed to be nothing Ace — and Tom — liked better than looking at each other through that window.
After three months of meeting at the window, and later playing peekaboo at windows of the front door, they eventually met in person, spending about an hour running around my apartment and playing. A few times, they’ve frolicked outside. Ace chases him down.
Tom swats at Ace’s face, and then they start all over again. Sometimes Tom hides under the car, darts out for a quick attack, then retreats back under the car. Ace then tries to wiggle under, only to find he’s too big.
Usually, when I let Ace outside, the first thing he does is go next door — in hopes of spotting Tom.
Between actual, in person visits, that’s what they do – gaze at each other through the front window — Tom sometimes swatting at it with his paw as Ace jumps up, putting his paws on the ledge and emitting a whine or two.
Tom started out sitting in the sill of the window above my neighbor’s sink. Ace would sit at the bottom of the stairs to the back door and look up, or climb to the top and crane his neck for a closer view.
On Friday, Tom decided to try and get a little closer too. Walking to the end of the counter, he stretched and managed to stick his face through the mini blinds on the back door.
Apparently that wasn’t good enough so, tiptoeing across what had to be, at most, a quarter-inch wide piece of door molding, he managed to get positioned between the window and the blinds. The blinds, I guess, were what held him in place as he walked back and forth, to Ace’s pleasure.
They spent about an hour visiting that way, with Ace every once in a while jumping up and placing his paws on the screen door, which, as you can imagine, isn’t very good for screens.
Figuring I was responsible for at least half the damage, I grabbed some tools and went over Saturday morning while the neighbor was gone to fix the screen.
Fortunately it wasn’t torn, just pulled out from underneath the molding holding it in place. As I removed the molding, Tom showed up again, intent on watching the process.
That left the mini blinds even more haywire. Once the screen was repaired, Ace, after a warning that there could be no more jumping up on the screen, climbed up the stairs to visit Tom again.
He stayed for half an hour or so, until another neighbor pulled up into the driveway, at which time he tore himself away to visit her. Tom spent a couple more minutes wedged between the blinds and window, waiting for Ace to come back, looking a little forlorn.
As I mentioned the last time I wrote about this relationship, I think the door has a lot to do with how close they’ve grown. First, it allowed them to comfortably get used to each other without feeling threatened. Then, I think, it served to make them want to be together even more. The barrier between them only fueled their desire – kind of like a parent who forbids you from seeing that boy; or you being in New York while she’s in California.
Closed doors, like absences, can make hearts grow fonder.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bond, cats, dog and cat, dog-cat, dogs, doors, love, neighbors, north carolina, pets, play, relationships, tom, travels with ace, windows
Ace has a new top obsession — a neighbor named Tom, who has taken over the first place spot previously held by a neighbor named Al.
Ace hit it off immediately with Al, an older man who lives about five doors down. When Al started giving Ace treats, his apartment became the first place Ace looked when he went outside. When Al bought a jumbo bag of chicken jerky treats to hand out when Ace went by, the relationship grew even stronger. He loves Al, but he loved those jerky treats the way an addict loves crack.
Since Christmas, though, Ace’s priorities have changed. My next door neighbor got a kitten.
He is a very cute kitten, and very tiny. Ace — and we should point out here that cats are the only species Ace seems more taken with than humans — has met Tom once, sniffing him while his owner held him.
Ever since then, the first thing Ace does when he goes outside — even before peeing — is to run over to the neighbor’s front window to see if the cat is there. He stares up at the window, then he jumps up, putting his paws on the sill. The first time he did that, the cat jumped down and disappeared.
The next time, the cat wasn’t bothered in the least. And now the cat seems to be waiting for him. He’ll gaze at Ace, paw at the window and press his face against it. After a couple of weeks, they both seem to view the visits as a regular part of the day’s schedule, and Ace seems to think checking on the cat is his new job.
If the cat is not in the window, Ace will jump up, peer in, crane his neck, look side to side and get upset. Eventually, the cat will appear, and then they will stare at each other as long as I allow it.
It takes a lot of urging to pull Ace away.
I am 99.999 percent sure Ace does not want to eat the kitten. He has shacked up with cats before, and been enamored with them, though only one we visited seemed to tolerate his interest.
But because the kitten is so young he would only be one swallow, and because the kitten has had some health issues, they’ve yet to hang out together unrestrained and in person.
As for Al, Ace still bolts off when sees him, even though we’ve dropped the chicken jerky treats. They were made in China, and — though I doubt they were responsible for Ace’s recent health issues — both Al and I had read some warnings about them.
I’m 99.99999 percent positive that Ace isn’t looking at Tom as a treat — even if he does sometimes drool a little while staring in his window.
But Ace’s Tom-excitement and his jerky-excitement appear to be two different things. With the jerky, he gets all drooly and subservient. With Tom, his tail and ears perk up. He seems more intent, more studious, less zombie-like, as if it’s more an intellectual hunger than a physical one.
One of these days, they’ll get to spend some time together. Maybe, with all the anticipation behind him, that will make him less obsessed, or then again it could make him more that way. Until then, they’ll continue to relate, three or four times a day, through glass and screen.
Note to neighbor: You might detect some small holes in your screen; I fully (or at least 99.999999 percent) intend to buy you a new one.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, al, animals, behavior, cat, cats and dogs, chicken, china, dogs, jerky, kitten, neighbors, north carolina, obsessions, pets, relationships, road trip, species, tom, travels with ace, treats, window, winston-salem
I had one the other day — the feeling that fate had led me to turn onto an isolated country road in Virginia; that it was meant for me to drive down that road; and that, by doing so, I would end up meeting one of my idols, Tom Wicker, the famous writer.
It all started with a wasp. Heading north to Richmond on State Highway 10, south of Hopewell, I looked into the rearview mirror to check on Ace and noticed there was what appeared to be a wasp on what appeared to be the inside of the back window.
I pulled off on the first side road I came to — Wards Creek Road — and popped my back window open so it could get out. I was getting back into the car when I noticed a sign saying that this particular portion of country road was adopted by Tom and Cookie Wicker.
If they were picking up trash along the road, surely they must live on it, I figured, and just maybe, maybe even probably, it was THE Tom Wicker.
I called my father, who was a friend of Wicker’s long ago. Tom Wicker, both my parents have told me, used to bounce me on his knee when I was a baby. I didn’t really want to be bounced again, but how cool would it be, after all these years, to drop in out of nowhere and say hello?
“Does Tom Wicker live in Virginia?” I asked. He didn’t know. “Is he married to a woman named Cookie?” He wasn’t sure of that, either. Cookie sounded like an author’s wife’s name to me, though. Virginia seemed a likely place for Tom Wicker, born in Hamlet, N.C., to live. Perhaps I was destined to meet Tom Wicker again.
I drove along the road, picked the most impressive looking driveway and turned down it. It led to multiple houses. At the first house, I had stopped when a pick-up truck pulled up. I asked the man inside where Tom Wicker lived. Tom Wicker, I was told, lives at the very end of the long gravel driveway.
The driveway grew ruttier and narrower as I proceeded, but I decided it was worth the possible payoff. This is the sort of place Tom Wicker would live, I reasoned, on a secluded country estate. Writers need their solitude.
At the end of the driveway, there was a modest home, and a mastiff, who started barking. I waited in the car, figuring that Tom Wicker, hearing the noise, would step outside.
And out he came — not Tom Wicker, the writer of numerous books about politics and presidents. Not the author of ”A Time to Die,” about the Attica riots, my personal favorite. Not the Tom Wicker who grilled politicians, hobnobbed with presidents, and whose writing served as inspiration to me. Not the Tom Wicker who bounced me on his knee.
Instead, it was Tom Wicker, the retired nuclear plant worker.
A little wary at first — and who could blame him? – this Tom Wicker listened with curiosity as I explained how I ended up parked in his side yard. He remembered reading Tom Wicker’s columns in the New York Times, but said he was no relation.
As we talked, his dog — Lula was her name — kept her eyes on me. I asked to meet her, knelt down and called her name. Nervously and slowly, she approached, sniffed my hand and let me pet her. Then she spotted Ace, who had climbed up into the driver’s seat and was leaning out the window. She walked over to my car and touched noses with him.
I didn’t go so far as to let Ace out, or even suggest it, as I felt I had intruded enough on Tom and Cookie Wicker — Cookie also having come out into the yard by then.
Lula, two years old, originally belonged to Tom and Cookie Wicker’s daughter but she found two mastiffs too much for her mobile home and gave Lula to her parents.
But, I’ve decided, one should not stop mid-whim and Google. One should not let Google spoil an adventure, even if that adventure is based on a misconception. We don’t want the world to become a place where Google – useful as it is — does all our seeking and searching for us, where we get so used to turning first to the computer that we fail to explore and savor the real world.
Had I done that, I wouldn’t have met Tom or Cookie or Lula.
Besides, Tom and Cookie Wicker gave me a parting gift — two tomatoes from their garden.
They were red, ripe, juicy — and real.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a time to die, ace, ace does america, author, books, columnist, cookie, dog's country, dogscountry, fate, google, hunches, lula, new york times, quest, road trip, roads, search, seeking, tom, tom wicker, virginia, wicker, writer