Authors: Carol Wallace,Bill Wallance
This really was fun! I jumped to the floor. The puppy chased me around the room. Papers jumbled and crumpled into piles. When I leaped back on the counter, the furball tried to catch his own tail. It made the mess even worse. I waited until he quit, then hopped to the floor again. Eyes wide, here he came. Just as he got close, I hopped on the cabinet. The puppy leaped and bounced against the drawers.
“I'm tired,” he panted finally. “I'm sleepy.”
I looked down at the mess on the floor. The kitchen was a disaster. Something inside of me gave a little twinge. I don't know what it was. I wanted Mama to be with meânot to spend all her time with the puppy. But the little mutt was so dumb and so trusting and so â¦ well â¦ so â¦
Who cares? He's just a dumb mutt anyway.
I hissed and fuzzed up my fur to get his attention. The chase game started all over again. I loved to watch him spin around chasing his own tail.
Just before the sky lightened up, I jumped over the barrier and hopped up to the safety of the
couch. Tucked in a ball, with my tail around my face, I went to sleep. The dumb furball must have finally worn himself out. From the kitchen I could hear him pant for a while, then he went to sleep, too.
I was really snoozing when Mama got up to make her coffee. The little squeal that she let out startled me. My eyes popped wide. Mama's mouth was open, as wide as my eyes, when she stood and looked at her kitchen.
“Good grief! What happened in here?”
Quickly I closed my eyes again and tried to pretend I was still sleeping.
There was a scraping sound when Mama moved the cardboard barrier between the kitchen and the living room. Her feet stomped across the floor. I peeked from one eye, just in time to see her spat the puppy on his fuzzy little rump. Then she put him out back and slammed the door.
“Just look at what that dog did! He must have been up all night. He's going to have to stay outside. I don't have time to clean up a mess like this every day!”
“Yap! Yap! Let me in! It's cold out here. I need in!” Small puppy claws hit against the door.
“You didn't have anything to do with this, did you, Gray?” I stayed as still as I could when Daddy walked toward me.
“Of course not!” Crossing my paws in front of me and yawning, I tried to purr as loud as I could.
Daddy tilted his head to the side and looked at me through squinty eyes. “You need to go out anyway, mister.” Daddy picked me up and put me out the front door.
Cold north wind hit me in the face. Shaking, I stood near the end of the porch. I fluffed up my fur, trying to keep warm. I could hear the puppy whining and whimpering in the backyard. My plan worked. He was out of
But for some reason I didn't feel as good as I thought I should. I mean, why wasn't I happy?
The yard was still covered with snow. It was cold and stuck to my paws. The sky was gray and gloomy. With a jerk of my tail, I stood up straight and tall.
You did good, Gray,
I told myself. Trying to feel proud and happy (but not quite feeling that way), I marched off to check out my favorite places.
When I got back, Callie was on the rocking chair. She did not look happy.
allie growled low in her throat. “What did you do to that poor puppy? Mama shut him up in that little pen way out in the backyard. She didn't even talk to him when she left.” Callie flattened her ears against her head. “She threw
out while she cleaned up the mess!”
I flipped my tail in the air and turned my back on her. “I helped him tear up the kitchen. It was fun! I love watching that stupid mutt run around in circles chasing his tail!”
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Gray! That little dog is just a baby. He hasn't been away from his mother very long. Can't you remember how you felt when you first came here? You were pretty lonely trying to figure out how things worked in this house. It wasn't that long
had to teach you about the house rules.”
Callie tried to fluff her thin fur against the icy wind. She looked away from me into the cold white yard. I wiggled my whiskers.
“It was fun! Besides, that dog is taking
time away from Mama. She sits and rubs that stupid ball of fur when I should be getting tummy rubs. I want my time back. It's my house, not that dumb puppy's!”
Callie shook her head. “You'd better think about this. You may be the one outside all the time. You're not a baby anymore. The puppy is. Besides that, the house is big enough for all of us. I've shared with lots of other dogs and cats. It takes a little getting used to, but Mama and Daddy have more than enough rubs to go around!”
The snow crunched when I stepped from the porch. My warm paws made some of it stick to my feet.
“Well, it worked didn't it? The puppy is out!”
Callie's tail flipped from side to side. “I guess it did! But we're out, too!”
Callie's glare followed me as I walked toward the pine trees. I would take a quick mouse hunt. Mama would be happy to find a nice trophy on the porch!
My ears perked as I crept closer to the trees.
The mice were hiding under the pine needles and snow. Crouching as low as I could, I wiggled my body closer to the soft mouse sounds. One little mouse was snuggled near the tree trunk. He stayed hidden under the brush. I slapped at the spot where I thought the mouse was. He must have been fast, as I only scooped up sharp needles into my paw. It hurt. With my teeth I pulled the things out. I backed up and shook the snow from my fur.
For a long time I chased mice in the pine trees. The thick blanket of needles and snow helped protect the few mice that were hidden there. When I grew tired, I headed back toward the porch.
The tip of Callie's tail was all that I saw disappearing into the house. The door shut behind it. Jumping up on the window ledge, I meowed as loudly as I could. The fireplace was crackling inside. I tucked my face behind my paws.
I thought about what Callie had told me. The dog was outside, but here I was, outside, too! I could hear the puppy yapping in the backyard. If he kept that up,
would get to go back into the house. I would be the one stuck out here on the porch all night.
It was nearly dark when Mama finally let me in. I rubbed her leg. Putting my face near her knee, I pressed my whiskers against her. She
picked me up and laid me on my back. I relaxed in her arms. Mama rubbed my tummy, chin, and face. It felt wonderful.
When she finally set me down, I ran for the food bowl. It was empty! Callie had eaten every bite! I meowed as loud as I could, then I trotted to the living room to tell Mama.
“Poor Gray! What's wrong with you?”
Mama followed me back to the kitchen. She found some scraps of meat and warm milk to put into the bowl. I gobbled it down, then headed for the bedroom. Callie had some explaining to do!
I hopped on the bed. All I could see was Callie's back.
“Hey, why didn't you leave me any cat food? I've been out in the cold most of the day. You always leave me plenty of food!”
“Bad Cats don't deserve good cat food!” Callie didn't even lift her head.
“I'm not a Bad Cat! You're the Bad Cat!” I whined.
Callie stretched slightly and looked me in the eye. “Do you know where the poor little puppy is?”
“Out in the cold, I hope!” I meowed.
“Guess again, Bad Cat! They put him out in the barn! He's so littleâ¦. The barn is so big
and empty” She turned her head to look at me. Her eyes narrowed. “It's all your fault, Bad Cat!”
A sudden chill raced from the base of my tail clear up to my ears. It was warm and cozy in the bedroom. The chill shot up my back again.
“Did you say âthe barn'?”
“The barn!” Callie repeated with a twitch of her nose.
My eyes flashed. I leaped from the bed and raced to the front door.
“Mee â¦ ow!” I yowled. “Let me out. Let me out now!”
I ran to the playroom door. Mama was curled up on the couch with papers in her hands.
“Mee â¦ owwww!” I howled.
“What is wrong with you, Cat?” Mama stood up and walked toward me.
“Let me out!” I led her to the front door.
Instead of opening the door, Mama picked me up and headed back toward the playroom.
“Mee â¦ owwww! Let me out!” I struggled to get away from her. Twisting and turning, I managed to drop to the rug. I raced back to the door.
Daddy laid down the magazine he was reading. “He must be too hot with the fireplace going. Let him out. He'll want back in pretty quick!”
Callie appeared in the hall, trying to see what the commotion was.
I clawed at the wood on the front door. As soon as Mama opened it, I shot out. The icy air hit me in the face, but I scooted toward the lilac bushes.
Tiny whimpering sounds came from the barn.
fault! I had to do something! I just hoped I wasn't too late.
ce covered the long branches of the lilac bushes that lined the driveway. The wind made it crackle as I raced by. I stopped at the barn, listening. There was no sound except for the puppy, whimpering inside. I gently crept toward the doorway. It was shut tight.
I raced around to the side of the barn. There was a hole, big enough for me to get in. I squeezed through and peered inside. Dark shadows were all that I could see. My ears perked, twitching and listening.
Soft whimpers came from the hay room. Watching for the rats, I wiggled my way through the opening and out of the wind.
Cautiously I wove between the piles of hay bales. Ratty scratching sounds came to my ears.
I called softly, “Meow! Where are you?”
Only limbs scraping against the walls of the barn answered me back.
“Puppy, where are you?” I called a little louder.
“Gray, is that you? Help me!”
I followed the soft sounds toward the back wall of the barn. I hopped up on top of two hay bales that were stacked there. I looked over. The pen was made out of hay. The barn served as one wall of the thing. Hay bales, one stacked on top of another, made the other three walls. Big brown eyes looked up at me. The puppy was shivering in a fuzzy, white heap near the back of the small pen.
“I'm so scared. Get me out of here!” He scooted even closer to the wall of hay. His whole body shook.
My slit eyes blinked, adjusting to the light in the barn. Nervous, I looked around. There were no signs of the rats.
The puppy whimpered again. “They've been watching me. They run past and show their ugly yellow teeth. Can you see them?”
Squinting, I looked into the cracks between the hay bales around the room. Small beady eyes gazed back. When I saw how tiny and frightened the eyes were, I almost purred.
“Mice â¦ it's just mice!”
The puppy's tail gave one little wag. Then he
huddled down, trembling. He looked so small and helpless as he pressed himself between the hay and the huge wall of the barn.
“Gray, come closer to me. I am so scared. I want out of here.”
I flipped my tail. “I'm watching for the rats. I don't have time for puppy games. You would wiggle and squirm all over the place.”
“No, I won't! Please come down and help me get over the shivers.” The puppy shook hard as he looked at me. “I'm so scared!”
“No puppy games! I've got to figure out what we are going to do.”
“I promise! Just come closer and snuggle.” The puppy's tail gave another wiggle, then stopped. He trembled all over.
I sprang quietly to the floor of the pen. Fluffing up my fur, I moved close to the pile of white. The small body nestled near me. Shivers came from him. After a time my body relaxed as the little pup fell asleep.
Helping him made me feel better, too. Maybe there was really nothing to worry about. Maybe the rats only came in the daytime and only ate the grain. Maybe the worried and scared I sensed was all for nothing.