And then there was Trout
Rebuilding the team after a couple of tough losses
By Mitch Mode
Special to the Star Journal
“Trout.” The word hangs in the air on a January afternoon as the winter sun holds in the sky of the month of chill and darkness; there is substance, both the word and the sun, but both evoke another season. Trout.
I ask Sally: “What do you mean? Trout?”
I am fully aware that a cottage industry has grown up over the inability of men and women to communicate effectively in simple terms. Words that seem clear to one are baffling to the other. More than that, ideas and concepts and grand visions that seem crystal clear to one side are curtained in incompressibility to the other. It as if one peers from a window and sees what one sees and then breathes on the glass and the sharp image is fogged over and nothing is the crystalline no matter what words are used to describe the scene.
Trout. The word has meaning; of course it does. But I was under the impression that we were discussing possible names for a cat. Have I missed something? It seems likely that I have.
We brought a cat into our house this week. We wanted a companion for Fenway who seemed adrift and out of sorts after Thor died earlier this month. When Sally brought the odd looking Boston terrier, Fenway, home at 8 weeks, we had a cat, Lady, and two dogs, Riika and Thor. The foursome had some work to do but they got it done and after some scuffles and turf issues, hissing and barking, they worked out the pack hierarchy.
We had good years, the small cat, the small dog, Fenway, and the big dogs.
Lady died a year and a half ago. The dogs missed her, all three of them. They adapted. They did well. They were a pack.
Then Riika died in June and it was all over. The threesome was now two and Thor and Fenway were unsettled. Thor took it the hardest; he never came back to where he had been. Summer and autumn came and went and our big guy just gave ground. He was tight with Fenway but Riika was the dominant dog and when she was gone Thor was heartsick.
Thor died in early January and Fenway took it bad. His pal was gone. He looked for Thor every day. He seemed older and more somber. In truth, Sally and I did as well.
We researched dogs, looked at hunting dogs, versatile breeds that would hunt upland birds and ducks both. But these things take time and Fenway was clearly unhappy.
We called a young friend who had expertise in cats went to the animal shelter. We came home with a cat.
The cat is small and delicate, black and white and in that matches Fenway. We brought her home and put her on the counter where she curled in tight, anxious ball of fur and regarded Fenway on the floor. He was very interested in her. They faced off. We kept them apart, the cat high on the counter, the dog on the floor. At night we planned on locking her in a room downstairs where she would not have to deal with Fenway. They’d need time to adjust.
The cat lay on the counter for nearly an hour then stood, stretched and jumped to the floor, face-to-face with Fenway. He leaned in, nose quivering. She let him come close, then swatted him with her paw and ran. We did not see her the rest of the evening.
I saw her next at 3:00 in the morning when she climbed on the bed, snuggled against my head, purring all the while. I told her she was a good cat. I rubbed her ears and then told her to go away. She did. For an hour. At 4:00 she was back. Again at 5:00. Over morning coffee Sally told me I looked pretty ragged and I told her I was ready for a nap. The cat was nowhere to be seen. One could only surmise she was sleeping after a night on the prowl.
Two days later we did not have a name. We did, however, have a better idea of what she was. Over dinner Sally had shown a photo of the cat to a friend who said, “She’s a Tuxedo” and he’d owned them and they were very special. A Tuxedo, not a true breed but named so for their black and white colors. So we had a Tuxedo. But still no name.
I began referring to her as “The Cat With No Name,” though at times I slipped and called her Lady, the memory of our sweet cat rising up to me.
I offered up the opinion that a name did not matter; cats do not respond to names, seeming to consider that beneath them, a trivial matter best left to dogs. Sally did not agree.
“What do you mean?
“The name for the cat: Trout.” She seemed to have a certainty about the name as if it was the most logical choice for a black and white cat. What else would one name a Tuxedo? I was baffled.
The name was offered up by a dear friend when Sally reached out for suggestions. As one might surmise the name made no particular sense nor did it follow any particular logic. The friend, years ago, had a black and white cat show up at her house. It was a stray, shy and it took some time to get the cat comfortable enough to come inside. One day it did and Sally’s friend looked up from what she was doing, saw the cat inside and for some unfathomable reason said the first thing that came to her mind: “Hi, Trout.”
So we have two black-and-whites now, Fenway the Boston terrier, and the cat.
The cat is on the bed. I look at her and say, “Hi, Trout.”
She ignores me.
An assortment of outdoor products is available at Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander. Call 715-362-5800.
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