Little Doolittle

            I draw animals.  They come to me, trust me – even the ones who usually growl at strangers and then rip flesh from their legs.  When I am pregnant, dogs and cats cannot keep away; I give off some hormone that turns me into the Pied Piper for house pets.  I have never known anyone as attractive to animals as I am.

            Until now.  Now, pregnant though I am, they ignore me.  They give me a cursory once-over, and then move along.  They know there is a better game in town.

            That’s because I am always with Benjamin.

            Now, all kids like animals, and Zachary is as into them as any other child his age.  But Benjamin?  Ben has a gift.  Dogs, cats, horses, it doesn’t matter.  They turn away from all other humans the minute he walks into the room.

            He has recently discovered bugs.  Actually, both kids have, but Zach’s response is to run screaming from the room every time a fly enters.  Benjamin has a different approach.

            “Doodlebug!” he announces.  And sometimes he is right.  Sometimes, however, it is a little roach-like creature that got stuck on its back and died on our front step.

            “No, Ben.  That’s a dead bug.”

            “Hi, Dead Bug!” he says, bending down and waving.  It is all I can do to keep him from inviting it in for supper.

            He is a miniature Doctor Doolittle.  And our new neighborhood provides all sorts of willing animals for him to commune with.  There are dogs on leashes, squirrels running about, birds in the trees.  And, there is The Cat.

            Our new neighbors on one side include a concert pianist who practices every night while we eat supper on our deck (no charge!)  The other side has a house that could use a remodel (or a wrecking ball).  It also has Cuddles, known to Benjamin merely as “CAT!”

            Cuddles is the neighborhood whore.  She lies in the middle of the sidewalk, spreading her extraordinarily long legs our to trip anyone who dares try not to stop, and waits for victims.  And everyone seems to know her.  They stop, they pet, they sit down and spend ten minutes pampering this feline who clearly has never met a human she didn’t like.  She will expose that furry belly to anyone with hands.  She is totally indiscriminate.

            At least that’s what people thought until we moved to the neighborhood.  Now, old friends are getting slighted.  There they’ll be, petting her, and Benjamin will come tearing down the sidewalk, shouting with glee “CAT!”  And Cuddles turns her fickle tail on whoever is petting her; her lover has arrived.

            “I feel a little hurt,” one old friend of hers remarked, watching as the two did their mating dance on the sidewalk. 

            “Don’t take it personally,” I responded to this neighbor.  “He and the cat had a special relationship.”  And so they do.  He tries to feed her grass (I’m sure her owners really appreciate him tearing up their lawn).  He pets her gently.  He talks to her.  He offers her his giraffe blankie, the greatest gift he has to offer.

            “Why do we need to get a cat?” my husband wants to know.  Don’t tell him, but he may be right.  Everyone seems perfectly happy with the current arrangement.

15 responses to “Little Doolittle

  1. That is truly a funny post!

    I have the opposite child. When he comes in the room the cats run away. (can’t say I blame them)

    The dog still likes him though.

    My boys like bugs (dead and alive) Just don’t give them to me. I don’t like bugs (dead or alive).

  2. I would say that the arrangement sounds great. And you don’t have to get your own pet.

  3. Your first sentence made me think you had artistic abilities (like, you knew, you drew animals with a paper and pencil). I mean, maybe you do, but obviously, that’ s not where this post was going, lol.

  4. hmmm… my cat usually shivers in fear with MQ enters the room. with good reason. 😉

  5. I would go that route if I had a choice in the matter.

    And it’s great that he doesn’t have any fear of bugs. My kids are the go-running-from-the-room variety, though my son has started to take on some spider-killing responsibilities lately.

  6. Hmmm… I’m at a stage where I feel cats are like babies – delightful to cuddle, and best when they can be handed back!

  7. Good neighbors: a concert pianist that you get to listen to and a cat that Benjamin can pet and love without you having to change the litter box!

  8. He sounds just like myself. Animals love me. All of them. It’s kind of freaky.

  9. For the record, not all children love animals. Calvin is completely ambivalent about the presence of living things that cannot appreciate his performances and clap at his juggling acts. In fact, the only animals he has any interest in are the fire ants that he kills by crushing them under the sole of his shoe. Yes, we encourage that one. They are nasty critters.

    Hobbes, though, loves creatures of every size and will watch bugs for as long as I leave him to do it.

  10. Animals love me too! (including insects–if there is a single mosquito–it will find me) I’m convinced it must be some kind of pheromone!

  11. That’s really sweet. Our cats are mostly terrified of the Little Mister (except for Arwen sometimes, because she’ll take petting from anyone). Who knows, maybe someday he’ll stop torturing them…


  12. i love this.

    ho-cat reminded me of a friend’s dog, who was usually known as slut-dog because she spent all her time on her back wanting her belly scratched.

  13. Awwww…

    Oh cat is slowly warming up to the kids… I think she feels defeated. She would hve nothing to do with #1 child, a bit to do with #2 – and now #3 can carry her by the tail! though that only happens if child # 3 crawls under the bed to fetch Cleo out!!!!

  14. This post put me in mind of my nephew, Mad Max. Well, just Max, but he was named after Max in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, and trust me, he tries to live up to that. Anyway, he adores animals. The problem is they don’t necessarily adore him. When he was about three, he was visiting me. We had rats at the time. Yes, on purpose. Anyway, Max wanted to pet them, so he stuck his finger into the cage. Now I have had rats since I was 10 years old, and I have never been bitten by any of them. They are incredibly gentle creatures. However, one of them chomped down on Mad Max’s finger–I can only think the rat thought he was being handed a ratty treat–and MM’s finger began to bleed profusely, with MM howling in horror. You know how fingers can bleed! My sister-in-law was incredibly calm, but I was so mortified that I phoned her the next day and apologized once again on behalf of my rat. She said, and I quote “Oh, don’t worry about it. It happens all the time. Today Max got mauled by a puppy…..We aren’t going to the zoo anytime soon.” *smile*

  15. Hey! If you don’t have to pay for the food and the vet, why bother with another one!