“The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog,” wrote my namesake the great Mark Twain.
I am soon going to have to think about buying a bigger house, or maybe buying a ranch in Konavle. Soon there won’t be room for me to stretch my legs. “Why don’t you hang a sign on your door – Mlini Zoo – and sell tickets,” joked one of my friends. “You could probably get some European funds for animal welfare,” he added.
As you may or may not know I am already the owner of two dogs, a small, white temperamental terrier mix called May, and an overweight, lazy, black Labrador called Zag. The newest member of the clan is an argumentative, yet cute, kitten called Lona. Yes, dogs and a cat together, a cocktail for disaster. All of these pets have two things in common. They are all rescue animals and they are all named with a purpose. May, the first member of the gang, was found in May. Zag was found in Zagreb; yes this is a nationwide gang. And Lona was rescued half-dead from a rubbish container when my wife was on her way to Barcelona, Lona sounded nicer than Barca. Dr. Doolittle, as I have renamed my wife, would be happy if we adopted a mouse, a hamster and a pony to complete the set. Of course it is nice to save a soul. To give a second chance to an animal in need.
At first the kitten was frightened out of her skin at the sight of a horse-like black dog and a battle-ready terrier closing in on her. However the difference between dogs and cats is intelligence. She soon found a way to outwit the slow-witted duo. She can jump higher, climb better and crouch lower than her dog partners. “Do you think she will be alright with these two,” I asked my wife, stupid question. Within days she was stealing their food, taking their place on the couch and digging a place into our hearts. May and Zag gave up the chase. They resigned themselves to defeat. Brains had beaten muscles. The pen was indeed mightier than the sword. The Mlini Zoo was fully functioning.
Can dogs and cats live in harmony together, obviously the answer is yes. In fact the answer came a few mornings ago. It was just before sunrise and I was awoken from a deep sleep by an animal orchestra. Not only an orchestra but also I was trapped under my blankets. I tried to roll one way...no. I moved the other way and found another blockade in the way. Giving up that I would fall back to sleep I half opened my eyes to be greeted with a bed full of pets. A deep bass snore was coming from Zag at my feet. A high pitched more lady-like snore was coming from May on my left-hand side. And squeezed between me and my wife was Lona purring her head off. I was trapped in an animal prison. We had gone to bed that night without any of these invaders on our bed. They had all taken up their sleeping positions in various parts of the house. Yet, like ninjas in the darkness, they had all made their way under the cover of the night onto the bed. And as if to prove her intelligence and resilience Lona had taken the prime position between us. Once again the newcomer had shown her cunning.
The cat is a criminal mastermind; the dog is merely an opportunist. My morning concert continued. “Why am I the only one awake,” I wondered. “Why aren’t the snores of the dogs waking up the cat or vice-versa, and why isn’t Dr. Doolittle awake.” I lay awake staring at the ceiling listening to the animal ensemble. It slowly, very slowly, started to hypnotise me and after an hour or so I fell off to sleep again. Almost immediately I felt a thunder in my ear. Was I dreaming? Was someone using a grass trimmer at this time of the morning? I tried to ignore it, to force my mind to think of something else.
The roll of thunder continued. In defeat I opened my eyes and another pair of eyes were staring right back at me...cat’s eyes. “What the hell do you want,” I whispered at the staring eyes. “Meowwwww,” was the answer. Feeding time, the zoo was open for business and Lona wanted breakfast. Not only had the smallest member of our family managed to train the dogs to obey her but she was also twisting me around her little finger, or should I say little claw. Another quote from Twain to finish “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but deteriorate the cat.”