By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
While cat-sitting for our daughter and son-in-law, I thought it might be a good time for our car-ride loving Coonhound, Sadie, to tag along and get to know her feline cousin, Lilly Cat. Not my best thought. First, I learned that Sadie is terrified of noisy garage doors. That makes sense as she’s never met one before. Our cars live outside like livestock. Sadie does not, live outside, that is. She’s almost like a person. She has a futon.
It was a struggle getting her to come through the garage and into the house. Once inside, I saw Lilly at the top of the stairs awaiting my visit. Her happy look changed immediately when, instead of spotting me, Lilly spotted the giant dog and took off like a scaredy-cat hiding under an upstairs loveseat.
There’s a famous saying, “What goes up, must come down.” I disagree. Oblivious to the cat, Sadie Mae nonchalantly followed me up a set of carpeted stairs for the first time in her seven years of life. Half way up she rethought the situation and headed back down. Oh my, her long legs went out from under her and in a panic, she turned around and ran back up the stairs to join me.
She checked out all the strange smells, hound-dogging with nose to carpet. She never located the kitty but completed a pretty thorough inspection before standing about five feet away from the dreaded stairs. She froze in fear at the top, refusing to go down. That posed a slight problem, since the stairs were not in our house. I called my husband for emotional support. He suggested I use a leash. Good idea.
With Sadie whimpering and pacing at the top of the stairs, she blocked the kitty from coming down to eat. Sadie is a pretty big girl with large teeth and feet. How was Lilly to know Sadie’s really a big old chicken?Chicken Dog and Scaredy-Cat
After numerous failed attempts at luring Sadie down with sweet talk and begging, I went in search of bribes. Food. Not much junk food in this gluten-free house, but I found a jar of peanuts. Perfect. Almost. Only perfect for Sadie to eat if I doled them out to her at the stop of the stairs. Not so good when used as carrots scattered on each step. Sometimes, fear trumps food. I placed several nuts in a line leading her down but she only ate those within easy reach and shook her head “no” at the rest. More like, “Heck no!”
There I sat on the beige carpeted steps, eating her peanuts pondering my dilemma. I didn’t want to drag Sadie down by her collar. But, I certainly couldn’t pick up her seventy pounds of quivering muscle and tote her down the stairs without both of us tumbling like two sacks of sweet potatoes to the hard wood floor below. No broken bones or concussions needed.
I finally went downstairs and brought up a leash, looping it over her shiny black head. Seated on the stairs, I led her down step-by-step and then was able to stand upright and walk with her once she realized that slowly descending wasn’t as bad as she had imagined. I don’t expect her to go back up a set of stairs anytime soon. And I don’t expect her to be great friends with Lilly. Looks like that relationship’s not gonna work out.
Sadie didn’t hesitate at all going back underneath the loud and scary garage door to our car for the ride home. Sadie is one of the best car riders in our family. She can sit beside me in the front seat looking like royalty around curves and over bumps, hardly moving. On our way home my car mistook her for a person and kept dinging, sending me reminder messages blinking, “Fasten passenger seatbelt, fasten passenger seatbelt.”
I know how Sadie felt. As an invincible teenager, I climbed a Forestry Service fire tower and regretted that decision immediately. At the top, I sat paralyzed in fear, unable to take that first step down. Obviously, I finally did get down since I’m not still up there today, but I clearly remember my feet flying after the first step unable to slow down. I raced down that terrible tower vowing never to get stuck up high again and nobody even offered me peanuts.
Looks like Sadie’s adventure drove her to drink. And not just a little. She needed the whole trough!