Aug 11, 2006

SEATTLE, Washington: My folks – Ellen and John – rarely visit. So we savor each trip, especially this one, seeped in wine and summer sun. We nosh homemade enchiladas and chuckle as my tabby menaces their mutt.

The shelter said my little man disliked dogs in a big way. Indeed, he spits and hisses, fur apuff, punching the window in front of Major Major (named, yes, for Joseph Heller's Catch-22 character).

"Bumpf," Jake slams the glass in front of the dog's panting, friendly face. "Bumpf, bumpf, WHAM," he pops out jabs like a featherweight contender – one with a grudge and a shoulder chip.

Oh, how we laugh, careless, there in the August heat.


Two hours before my parents depart, war breaks out.

The door's ajar. Major – who wants only to be loved – nuzzles it open.

My 9lb tabby is on that 98lb dog in a flash: claws raking, blood squirting. Talk about a have-a-go-hero...

I hear the yelps and run. Major's wailing and cringing, trapped on the second-story porch. My dad and I reel in the constricted space – luckily not onto the weak railings. I duck under a chair and grab Jake.

Wild, he whips round and sinks a fang into my hand. It pierces deep between my ring- and middle- fingers. A small, detached part of my brain observes, "that wasn't just a flesh wound. Something useful took a hit."

Jake's expression is stricken. He's just accidentally maimed the person who centers his universe. The tabby wilts and I rope him in by the tail, hand-over-hand like tug-of-war. He trembles in my arms.

Everyone's bleeding, except Molly and my mother – matriarchs far too wise for such frays.


  1. If Jake really only weighed 9 pounds, he'd be able to see his own feet.

  2. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Jake, you strong and desirable tiger.... I've been waiting for someone like you. Come and share your nights and lazy days with this little green-eyed pussycat.
    Will you marry me?


  3. You're right, Edward. Baby Jake tips the scales at 14 pounds. And that's after ten months on a diet...

    That's the first time I've weighed him: I couldn't face the horror when he was fully gorded (the greedy beast broke into the kibble sack and gorged for a month, while I was on assignment in Europe last year).

    Happily, my vet friend Rachel says he's in the healthy range now (but should trim another 2lbs of blub).

    Floozy: still keen, knowing he's a large and lovable bruiser?

  4. Anonymous12:57 AM

    Jake, after all both you and I have shared Amanda's bed.....
    come and live with me...My folks eat meat....and I will share my crusts with you....

    keen to get her paws into your love handles...

  5. No, Floozy, Jake's not allowed to "co-sleep," mainly because he sprawls on mamma's chest, pushes his wet nose against hers and purs all night.

    Every now and then I indulge him with a few nights on the couch, say, after a trip. But largely he's relegated to the hall, poor creature, where he cries and hurls his considerable bulk at the rattly doorknob.

    He does, however, have company: a wisp of an alpha female named Molly. You'll have to win over his older sis before spiriting him off to Blighty, I reckon.

  6. Amanda, how fun to see how you put it. I claim to be the only unblooded one, but I forgot Molly Girl. I was actually standing back to care for anyone who went off the deck. It was a wonderful visit back to our old stomping grounds and I always feel I never see enough of you. Can't wait for the Holidays. e

  7. Jake and I will be arriving on the 17th... Love, Ax.