Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Mishmash: A Furry Meet-Cute

Sometimes, it seems that, despite a film degree from Northwestern, I missed a few cinematic concepts and terms during my college education. “Meet-cute” is one such example, and I have the recent film The Holiday (2006) to thank for my newfound knowledge. As Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach), an adorable screenwriter from the “golden days” of Hollywood, explains to Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet), “Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in and both go to the same men's pajama department. The man says to the salesman, ‘I just need bottoms,’ and the woman says, ‘I just need a top.’ They look at each other and that's the ‘meet cute.’”

Well, in my world, a “meet-cute” has been a long time in coming. It’s not my meet-cute, of course. It's Ruby's. You see, for months now, Dan has been trying to get Ruby Azazel – our feisty, one-year-old cat, with a need for affection and a mind of her own – to interact with Gypsy – his in-laws’ sweet-tempered, bird-hunting, eleven-year-old wirehaired pointing griffon. The reason is simple: Despite my fervent desire for a kitty in my life – and Dan's willingness to appease said desire last year – he's made it quite clear that he just as fervently wants a dog. Hence, the need for a meet-cute – to see how Ruby might get along with a future canine in the family.

The problem, of course, is that, even as a kitten, Ruby was not fond of canines. On the few occasions that I had to transport her between the apartment and the car and back again, she would crouch down in her kitty carrier and observe the world around her, seemingly searching for enemies everywhere. Whenever she spied a dog – be it an obnoxious terrier or a pleasant labrador – she would hiss loudly until it went away. So, I had my doubts that Ruby would express anything but scorn toward poor Gypsy, sweet as she is.

Earlier in the summer, when Dan began bringing Gypsy over to the house, ostensibly to interact with our indoor kitty, things went roughly how I thought they would. As soon as Gypsy crossed our threshold, Ruby would come running from wherever she’d been napping to watch as Gypsy sniffed her toys, attempted to sample the food in her bowl, and tried to edge nearer to her furry little neighbor. But, despite her own curiosity, Ruby would never let Gypsy get very close to her, and if Gypsy ever stepped over the imaginary line of tolerance, Ruby would let her know with a tail puff, a hiss, and a swat, normally signaling the end of the visit. Over the ensuing months, Gypsy figured out that staying clear of Ruby, at least for part of the time, was advisable.

But, perhaps due to their ever-growing familiarity with each other, recent visits have proven to be a wee bit more promising. Ruby seems less wary of Gypsy’s presence and more, dare I say, eager for it. If she’s sitting up in our bedroom window (one of her favorite spots) and sees Dan and Gypsy headed for the house, she comes pounding across the second floor so quickly, it sounds like a sudden thunderstorm has descended upon the forest. Over the past few weeks, she and Gypsy have touched noses, sniffed each other’s rear ends, and alternately stalked each other around the house. Ruby even hisses less than she once did, reserving that unpleasant behavior for the moments that she feels really cornered.

Recently, I’ve noticed yet another change in Ruby’s behavior. A month ago, she would flop onto the floor and roll around on her back, as if inviting Gypsy to play with her. As soon as poor Gypsy would lumber over toward her, however, she would hop onto all fours and brace herself for the puff-hiss-and-swat routine. Devious as a, well, cat, she had obviously been luring the dog into a classic feline trap. But, during today’s visit, when Ruby flopped onto her back, she actually allowed Gypsy to get close enough to lick her belly – if the dog had been so inclined. Finally, a real meet-cute! For once, I had hope that we would one day be able to welcome home a dog of our own. I refuse to think about the obvious – that it’s a lot easier for my temperamental kitty to interact with an elderly dog than it might be for her to tolerate an energetic puppy. Guess we’ll just have to enjoy these interactions for the next couple of weeks – and cross the puppy bridge when we come to it.

19 comments:

Kaite (@TheBusyMystic) said...

puppy is sooooo much easier to dominate than a grown up dog (who has size and experience!) - my puppy learned in a week. Now she will go out of her way to avoid the cat. If and when the cat has to remind her, he doesn't bother with puffing up or using claws. He just growls a little and bats at the dog without using his claws. They have a detante of sorts! Puppy wants desperately to play with cat, but cat won't allow it. Puppy respects that!

Christine H said...

I love that movie, Laura. It's one of my favorites!

We tried the dog/cat thing, but ended up not being able to reconcile the cat and the dog, and the cat had to live somewhere else.

Martha W said...

Ooohh... I love that movie! and I always look for the 'meet-cute' when I watch a movie now.

It was a good idea to introduce an older dog first so that Ruby gets used to the canine variety but the puppy thing is going to be a whole new experience any way you cut it... ;)

Keep us posted because that drama could be hilarious!

Becky said...

All I can say, as a new-dog-owner-who-first-had-a-cat is that taking care of a dog is 10 times harder and more complicated than taking care of a cat.

With your nomadic lifestyle, you'll have to be very careful about what kind of dog you get. I know of some for instance that can be litter box trained. And yes, puppies are great in many ways, but much harder in others. That said, it's much easier in situations like yours, where you have someone home a lot. We didn't dare attempt it until I was a stay-at-home-mom.

Also, traveling with a dog is much harder. Maybe you could be a "foster dog parent" first to get a taste for it, or just give your in-laws a break and dog sit for a week-end.

Glad the 2 critters get along so well. Gypsy is cute! Also, as in "Marley and Me", it could be the makings of a really fun story!

Stephanie Faris said...

Awww. Well, I'm told a dog rolling onto its back as its owner approaches is a symbol of submission. I'm assuming it's the same with a cat too. Now the cat is submitting...?

We always talked about "meet cute" in romance workshops but we called it "cute meet." I wonder if it's different in the film industry.

Laura Martone said...

Thanks for your perspective, Kaite. That gives me hope that I might be able to introduce a puppy to Ruby after all. I always assumed that Ruby would end up dominating the situation - and that the puppy would learn quickly when to avoid her. But we'll see.

Laura Martone said...

Christine - Yep. I like that flick, too. The four leads are adorable - even Jack Black! - and Eli Wallach is cute, too. As for the dog/cat thing, I sure hope it can be reconciled - for Dan's sake more than anything - 'cause the cat ain't going nowhere!

Martha - Yeah, it's a great movie, and I, too, always look for the "meet-cute," even with my furry pals. We knew that introducing an older dog to Ruby was a good idea - but we're prepared for "a whole new experience" with a puppy. I will DEFINITELY keep you posted. Pets are terrific fodder for blogging - they're hilarious and adorable and frustrating all at the same time!

Laura Martone said...

Becky - Oh, I know a dog is way more high-maintenance than a cat, especially an indoor cat. All I have to do is fill her food and water bowls, take care of her litter box, brush her coat periodically, and apply her flea medicine. She's pretty easy to take care of. Whenever we dog-sit for my in-laws, as we're doing this week, we find ourselves doing a little bit more for Gypsy - and she's already trained. And, yes, the nomadic existence is an issue, but we'll work it out. I have faith! :-) And, incidentally, I loved MARLEY AND ME (film and book), but it really upset me and Dan. Curse of having had to put our other kitty to sleep.

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Steph. Yep, I'd definitely say that when a dog or cat rolls onto its back, it's usually a symbol of submission. But, in Ruby's devious case, she was definitely baiting poor Gypsy with that move... until recently, that is. Heck, she STILL baits me. I'll go up to her, thinking she wants her belly rubbed, and instead, she leaps up and bites my forearm or thigh or arse or whatever else she can reach. Sigh.

I'm sure a "cute meet" is the same concept as a "meet-cute" - if, in romance books, it also means the contrived (often comical or romantic) intial meeting between the two would-be lovers that launches the rest of the story.

Laura Martone said...

Oops. I meant "initial" meeting. My kingdom for a spellcheck!

Strange Fiction said...

Ah, they're both so cute! Hope you can find a dog to fit into the fam. I love my dogs but I have sworn off starting with a 'puppy'. (until the next time :)

Maybe that's because our last pup was a border collie. I totally love my Blue Dog, but I so wouldn't recommend that you adopt a collie...

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Deb!

They are cuties, aren't they? I hope we can squeeze our own pup into the mix, too. Now, we have to decide what the puppy in question will be. I want a beagle (as I had when I was little), while Dan wants something bigger like a German shepherd or a, yikes, mastiff. We'll see how it goes...

P.S. Hey, how's the writing going?

Strange Fiction said...

They are:) Our older dog, Odie, is a 10 year old german shepherd cross--we've had him for 8 years and he's been a perfect companion. Smart, gentle, loyal, obedient, travels well, protective (when I need him to be, and I have)--always easy to be with--total soul dog. Beagles are awesome too:) Personally I like larger dogs but they do take up more space, eat more food, and require more walking...

The writing is going.. Actually, it's consuming my life at the moment :)

Lazy Writer said...

Great pics of the animals. I'm happy with the one dog we have. Any more pets might send me over the edge. Especially a puppy!

Becky said...

I love bigger dogs too, but I tell you, we probably spend $50 a month feeding our 50 pound dog! Bigger dogs need more room, which would be a great match up here in N Mi, but not so great in an apartment in the French Quarter.... There's a friend of mine here in town who has a mastiff/pit bull cross, as well as a German Shepard. I must admit they're both great dogs, but BIG!

Chris says you can have our dog ;-). At times I'm tempted to find a new home for him, but they really have a way to forge a strong bond with you :D.

And our puppy/dog is a wonderful dog, but even with me home most of the time, he's still had to endure the occasional long day all alone at home. He's run up quite a bill of things he's destroyed. But I must admit, one reson we got him is for protection, since DH travels a lot, and I do feel safer with him around! Plus dog+boys=happiness!

Oh, and Chris says that in some ways dogs are more challenging than kids. You can take kids almost anywhere, but not dogs. Maybe you and Dan should have a kid (wink wink).

Laura Martone said...

Sorry, Deb & Susan, that I missed your comments last night. I actually went to bed before midnight. Can you believe it?!?

Anyhoo, Deb, I'm glad to hear that Odie is a good dog. I'm really curious about the German shepherd breed. I really like them as a rule - they're beautiful dogs (although the black variety freaks me out a little - and the OMEN remake didn't help matters) - but I've known some rather cunning ones... too cunning, if you know what I mean. I like the idea, however, of having a smart, loyal, protective dog - which a spastic beagle might not be. Loyal, yes. Smart and protective, not so much. I tend to like mid-sized dogs. Small, yippy lap dogs are not my thing - but giant ones, like a mastiff, might be harder to travel with... and more expensive to take care of. P.S. Good luck with the writing! Wish it were consuming my life right now, but I have too many balls in the air to concentrate on my novel. :-(

Oh, and Susan, glad you enjoyed my pet photo ops. And I know what you mean - I'm happy with my cat right now. Don't know what I'd do with a puppy, which would require almost as much attention as a baby (if not more). ;-)

Laura Martone said...

Becky - Yeah, money and space, not to mention landlord approval, are some of my concerns with getting a dog. It would be different if we owned homes in each of our "towns," but we don't. :-(

What? Take Biko?! I couldn't take your dog from you... dogs and cats become family members - they shouldn't be able to be traded so easily... though I know plenty of people who have done just that. I couldn't imagine anyone else raising li'l Ruby - even though she drives me bonkers sometimes.

Dogs can be a great source of protection - and you're right, boys do love their dogs!

As for kids, well, uh, that won't be happening for a long time - if ever. :-( But I imagine Chris is right - kids are probably easier than dogs to travel with and take care of. I wouldn't know, though. ;-)

Becky said...

Cher, it was a joke! He was kidding! If you do get a puppy you'll understand the joke better LOL!

Laura Martone said...

Oh, Becky, I knew it was a joke! LOL! At least, I'd hoped it was... your "offer" just made me think of all the people who HAVE traded their pets.

Haha, you said "cher" - you really ARE from Louisiana!