Kage Baker didn’t really like animals, generically. She liked some individuals, based on their personal virtues and flaws, but she just was not automatically charmed by fluff and four paws. She liked birds instead.
However, she preferred dogs to cats – partly because she was mildly allergic to cats. It’s difficult to be really fond of someone who makes you itch and sneeze … and, in fact, one of the few cats she did like was the elegant hairless Sphinx who lived at Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco. Cats are damned funny looking naked, but Sphinxes tend to have enormous dignity; Ridley always managed to suggest by her very posture that hair was vulgar.
Even in dogs, Kage preferred distance. The family kept a lot of Labradors over the years; it was the quiet ones that Kage liked, rather than the dancing clowns. Probably her favourite dog ever was a friend’s Great Dane – the Rettinhouse’s Harlequin Dane, Patches. Patches was a delicate, ladylike dog with the soul of a swan, and Kage was very fond of her. They would sit together and sort of amiably ignore one another, apparently taking comfort in one another’s reserved quiet.
I like all sorts of dogs and cats myself. My heart, like Kage’s has long belonged to parrots, though, so it’s been a long time since I lived with any on a regular basis. When Kage died, though, I discovered … dog shows. Come the evening, after the long aching days of working on boxing up the house, I’d collapse in front of the telly and just stare at whatever was there. One night it was the Eukanuba Dog Show. And I was immediately enchanted.
After that came the Westminster Dog Show, which was really a gorgeous event. So many kinds of dogs! All so beautiful! All apparently having so much fun! I was hooked, in which pastime I was encouraged by friends and family members. It appeared that nearly everyone I knew – except me – had been watching these for years!
So now they are on my forever list. This is Super Bowl weekend, of course, and the gentlemen of our household are not that into dog shows … but the wonders of recording come to everyone’s rescue. Kimberly and I can watch the Eukenuba Show without interfering with The Game, and everyone ends up happy.
My stomach is still feeling doubtful, so it’s very nice to sit amid cushions and purring cats on the couch, and eat yoghurt, and watch pretty dogs prance. Those dogs were the first new thing to get my attention when Kage was gone – I am grateful for their ever-so-characteristic canine rescue, too. They saved me from some of the awfulness, in their various ways, from enormous Venetian Mastiffs down to puffball Pomeranians.
And the Cardigan Corgi took second place in the Herding Dogs tonight! We cheered and cheered, and fed Milk Bones to Dylan the House Corgi – who didn’t know why but also doesn’t care, as long as there are treats and tummy rubs involved.
Kage would approve. She approved of dogs that did something, you know? And all these shining, grinning, furry heroes have made me feel better at the darkest point of the year three times running, now. So everybody is better off tonight.
I think I’ll have a chicken pot pie and see how the Toy Breeds turn out next. Family and dogs are cool.