If the Cat has Your Tongue, Then the Dog Must have His Tail

There I lay, scantily clothed and trembling. The younger of my two nurses scrubbed me from head to toe with Brillo pads and acids (okay so it was sponges and antiseptic . . . but it sure felt like the other) while chatting about how much she loves cuts, bites and scratches. She seemed a bit disppointed that I would not be needing any stitches, but was still happy to be starting her weekend in the laceration room. The grey-haired nurse was less chatty and more concerned with logistics. She had me read health department printouts, sign waivers, and then jabbed me with a ten-inch needle “just in case.”

Feeling slightly traumatized, I began to scan the room for comfort. I looked for Jason. Longing to fix my gaze upon his profile, surely etched with concern and desires to take my place. I wanted to lock eyes with him, to experience the ocean of sympathy welling up in his baby blues. I needed to see his expression, lips pierced feeling my pain as though it was his own.

When I finally found him hiding in the corner, there was no etching or piercing. His profile was bloated, his eyes danced, and his lips puckered carelessly trying to contain the laughter pressing upon them. Jason caught me glaring at him, and couldn’t contain it any longer. Deep chuckles bounced off the sterile walls and his eyes finally welled up . . . from laughing so hard.

“Sorry,” he sputtered, “all that keeps running through my head is that my wife got beat up by a pussy (more laughter interlude). It just sounds so funny.”

He was right, it did sound funny when I had to call into work and tell them I would not be coming in that morning as I needed to go to the immediate care after a cat fight. It sounded funny when I checked in and had to explain to the receptionist “what I would be seen for today.” It even sounded kind of funny when the nurse came in to check out the bite (singular) only to almost fall off her chair as I removed layers of clothing to expose about 20 bites (plural). It all sounded funny, but the repercussions zapped my sense of humor.

For three days I suffered through antiseptic scrubs, xrays for cat teeth lodge in the wrist and finger bone, scans for bone infection, nauseating oral antibiotics, two rounds of IV antibiotics, wraps, splints, and shots. None of which compared to the relentless rounds of questioning. The nurses, doctors, technicians, receptionists, people I (of course) knew in the waiting room, all satisfied there curiousities with rapid fire questions. Not to mention the six phone calls I had to endure with the Health Department, which concluded with me executing my right “as both victim and owner to waive the ten day quarantine.”

As often as I told the story, one question still seemed unanswered. How exactly did this happen?

My only answer is that it was a reaction.

A reaction at 11 o’clock at night, as I gave one last attempt to be domestic before going to bed. You see the cat and dog, who had lived semi-civil until that moment were stationed in there usual late-night positions. The dog was snoring on his bed, while the cat retreated to the garage to eat and bed down. I joined the cat in the garage to do some laundry, leaving the door cracked just enough for the cats tail to taunt the dog. Apparently unable to take it anymore, the dog burst through the door grabbing the cat by the tail and holding on for dear life.

I freaked. Shielding the cat with my body, I punched and screamed until the dog finally responded by releasing the tail. He then retreated to his bed, knowing he was in trouble while the cat used his new found freedom to find shelter behind the Christmas ornaments and life jackets.

As the fur settled, I checked the crime scene only to realize that there was blood everywhere. In a panic, I rushed to the cat only to find him unscathed — not even a crook in his tail. After checking the dog, I finally noticed the blood was following me. That’s when the adrenaline wore off and I wilted into a puddle of tears, noticing the pain from head to toe for the first time. Twenty bites, scratches from neck to knee, and various bruises covered my body. All suffered in a split second reaction.

I have recieved a lot of advice. Brooms, hoses, letting them duke it out, have all been on the list of things I should have done. But reactions have no time for coulds or shoulds.

So much of our lives embrace reaction. Circumstances, good or bad, elicit our response, good or bad. We respond with anger, rejoicing, laughter, tears. We react in rants and raves or leaps and praise. We make rash desicions because of emotion, we move in uncertain directions because of feelings . . . even the ones that are fleeting.

In all the ways we can react whether by shield or by broom, God asks us for just one reaction. Gratitude. We are to be thankful in all things, for all things, because of all things. Thankfulness is easy when the circumstances comply, but when life is difficult and unfair thanksgiving is harder. Still, as our circumstances vary, God says our reaction should not.

We do not get to pick and choose . . . thankful the cat is okay, not so happy about the nurse pulling out every hair on my arm when she removed the IV. No, God says: “be thankful for both.”

We are not thankful because we love the circumstances, we are thankful because God loves us. Because, like he promised to Israel, He is not only there through those circumstances but some day we will look back and see that he carried us, shielded us through them. Though we may suffer for a season through them, we will come out on the other side without even a crimp in our tail.

We are full of gratitude because God somehow finds a way to bring great through the good and good through the bad. Even as we traverse through the worst of circumstances, as life scrubs us down, shoots us up, and pulls out every last hair, God is there with something above and beyond on the other side.

The cat who hated living in a house with a dog and kids, found a new home with a very generous family
from our church. He has already beat up their other cat, and claimed the bed of their son who is in Iraq. Perhaps it is one embattled soldier keeping the bed warm for another.

The dog was sent away for the weekend to the dog rescue farm where he had lived for almost two years before we adopted him. He refused to eat, wouldn’t run, and acted like he had never been there before. After finding the cat a new home, we retrieved him from exile and drove him through Carl’s Jr. for a welcome home burger. With one double bacon and cheese we obliterated any lesson possibly learned, but he was happy to be home. And I am happy to (even now) have him in bed with me keeping me warm and leaving just enough room for Jason . . . on the couch.

If nothing else we can be thankful for this: God not only has a sense of humor, but he always has the last laugh.

— the cat whisperer