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Dixie was watching us work. One of her hobbies. And, naturally, running around yard. When she saw bicycle pass in front of house, way up front along street, she took off like a shot. She didn't bark, though. She didn't want to scare it away.
I think that bicycle moved faster than my old truck. Clint and I fell on ground laughing. It was all I could do to catch enough breath to whistle. One single whistle was all it ever took. Dixie came back, smiling and wagging her tail.
Meanwhile, I think of woman on bicycle. She was a large woman, what folks down south would call a "corn-fed woman," simply out for a bit of exercise. She had to pass my house again to get home, since there were no other roads leading that way. I don't know how she got home, but it wasn't by bicycling along that road. Maybe she called someone to pick her up.
Not much of a story in telling, perhaps, but it was hilarious to see.
After Clint and I finished our work, I turned remains of that dirt pile out back into a garden. It was common for Dixie to run into garden, pull out a white radish, and eat it leaves and all. She never damaged other vegetables, though, and I'd grown far too many radishes, so that was fine with me.
I had a lot of gum trees, and she loved to eat spiny balls that fell from them. I told a co-worker about it, and she replied, "Oh, and I'll bet she chews tin foil too." As a matter of fact, she did.
A few months after I adopted her, I picked up Dixie from veterinarian after she was spayed. She was so full of drugs that she threw up in car and passed out on way home with a loud thump. I carried her, seventy pounds of dead weight, into house and laid her on floor.
At sight of her, Witchie ran like heck toward kitchen. Same as always. Then she realized she wasn't being chased, and checked on Dixie to make sure she was all right. It was very touching, as well as surprising. A few hours later, Dixie woke up and growled at me. This was one night she didn't sleep with me. She didn't want to climb stairs and she was too cranky for me to bother carrying. The next night, Dixie slept with me again as if nothing had happened.
At some point, Lisa decided that Witchie and Dixie weren't enough. She wanted another Siamese cat. I didn't mind at all. I love animals. We wanted a boy this time, knowing that owning two female Siamese simply isn't possible. For Christmas, we visited a Siamese breeder.
As we looked at kittens, we agreed that we needed meanest, toughest little monster they had. Witchie would hate him at first, and Dixie's reaction was anybody's guess. The whole litter looked pretty aggressive, fighting and wrestling and scratching and biting. But one kitten always ended up on top -- smallest one. It was a boy. We took him home.
When Witchie saw new kitten, she let out a mighty howl and charged at him with fire in her eyes. Dixie quickly ran over to them. One swat of a massive paw sent Witchie reeling. While Witchie looked on in rage and utter confusion, Dixie licked tiny kitten. He wasn't much larger than her tongue.
Imagine a seventy-pound dog sitting on floor. Facing her, an undersized eight-week-old kitten is standing on a coffee table. They are batting each other's faces, him aggressively and her like a gentle giant. They're biting, mewing and growling. Her tail is wagging. She opens her massive jaws and seems to swallow most of kitten. Like a cartoon, only part sticking out of her mouth is his tail. He wraps his claws around her tongue and bites down into it. Her mouth opens, and batting and biting resume.
The kitten quickly became known as Taz. He loved to run up and down stairs making weird wild noises like Tasmanian Devil cartoon. Dixie was his mom, protecting him from that evil Witchie. Taz slept on my chest every night, surrounded by a big black dog paw.
Witchie wasn't completely evil, though. Once in a while, she sniffed my hair and bit it, then climbed into my lap and purred contently. Much like Dusty, she preferred me to Lisa.
The only other person she ever purred for, and this surprised me, was Cousin Clint. She did that on his first visit. Okay, so maybe animals aren't such excellent judges of character. (I hope Clint's reading this.)
When Taz first arrived, house contained several large plants. Some were two or three feet tall. Within three days, they were gone. The leaves were food and soil provided a lovely natural litter box. By time I discovered effectiveness of a squirt gun, it was too late.
We quickly decided that, as long as we owned Taz, all plants would remain on porch. As Taz is still alive and well, we obviously never kept plants in house.
Taz also loved fish. When I say this, I'm not referring to food. I'm talking about aquariums.
Beta fish, also called Siamese fighting fish, are known for being tough, able to survive anything, so mean that you can't put them with any other fish or else they'll kill them. But alas, a Siamese fish is no match for a Siamese cat.
Fish Number One lived in a small tank shaped like half a sphere, mounted high on a wall between two windows. After a week or so of careful planning, Taz ran up blinds and grabbed fish. Then, unsure how to cope with success, he watched it flop around on carpet. He was staring at corpse when I got home from work.
Fish Number Two lived in an identical tank. It was mounted high up wall on landing between first and second floors. Taz spent hours perched on railing, staring at it, wondering. He never found out how to catch that fish. I found it floating in tank, dead. I assume it died from stress.
Taz spent hours staring at aquariums, trying to devise a way to capture fish. Years later, I took great joy in building a tall scratching post, complete with caves, and positioning it so that he had a fine view of fish that he could never quite reach.
Most intriguing to him was large albino Oscar. Oscars are meat-eaters, and Taz especially loved watching my Oscar at feeding time. When Oscar grew too large for twenty-gallon tank, I moved it to a fifty-gallon tank. Taz sat in empty tank daily until I finally sold it.
When Lisa and I separated, she took Taz and Witchie to Florida. At age seven or eight, Taz still looked and acted like a crazed kitten. I presume he always will. He has a special place in his heart for black dogs, because that's what his Mom was. Big Dixie. Woof!
Michael publishes a free weekly newsletter, WHO MOVED MY RICE?, which is dedicated to proving that you can't eat grits with chopsticks. http://www.chinarice.org