Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Legend of Zorro-- Chapter 3 A dog-like day

Zorro wasn't too sure about Muscade when he first arrived. But it didn't take long before he started tagging along in her shadow.

A few days after Zorro's arrival:
Muscade, our 11 1/2 year old, 60 pound golden retriever/golden lab mix, and I have our morning routine down pat. She escorts me to the barn and supervises while I do my chores. When I traipse to the manure pile with a filled-to-overflowing wheelbarrow, she trots along behind, pausing to sniff the dewy grass at random.

One morning, on my daily pilgrimage to the pile, I turn to see Muscade trotting happily after me, followed by Zorro. I giggle at the thought of our three-species parade. Empty wheelbarrow in hand, I lead the way back to the barn, and to my surprise, our procession remains intact.

As I sift through the horses stalls for more fodder for the wheelbarrow, Zorro chances a rub against Muscade's front legs. Muscade shoots me a worried, "what am I supposed to do about that?" kind of look, and then Zorro seats himself on the floor beside her, mimicking her erect pose. Muscade backs away and takes up a new seat a few feet further back.

She's right to be leery. She and Ruffles have shared a house for nearly five years now. They have an uneasy truce, which Ruffles violates at will, often rubbing against Muscade, then turning to swat her in the face. Zorro has only been here a few days and his brash move has her confused. She's not ready to trust him just yet.

I make my second trip to the manure pile and am thoroughly amused to see that our convoy continues. Myself and the wheelbarrow, a tail-wagging Muscade, followed by a trotting, mewing, black and white kitty cat.

Later, I tack up Maggie and lead her down to the riding ring. As usual, Muscade follows at a safe distance (Maggie is not particularly keen on K9 companionship), and, behind her comes the ever-curious Zorro. As I mount, Muscade takes up her usual position in a sunny spot on the grass outside the ring. Zorro hops on a nearby fence post for a better view. After awhile, a bored Muscade gets up, stretches her legs, and lowers her nose to explore the tall grass along the back edge of the ring. Zorro leaps from his fence-post position and disappears into the tall grass too.

Over the next few days, Zorro's attachment to Muscade grows. The minute we let her out of the house to pee, he leaps from some nearby shrub where he's been hiding, rubs against her, then follows her. He even sits beside her while she does her business. When she comes back to the house, we look out the window to see her sitting patiently at the front door, with Zorro sitting contentedly beside her. We usually have to shoo him away as we allow Muscade back into the house.

On sunny days when Muscade sprawls on the cool grass, Zorro rolls onto his back just a few feet away. On chilly days when Muscade curls up in the sweet-smelling hay, Zorro tries to tuck himself alongside of her furry belly. Sometimes Muscade allows this, other times she chooses to relocate.

Muscade seems a bit bewildered by this cat's over-friendly gestures. I'm never sure whether she really likes her feline companion, but there was one occasion which makes me think she does care for him at least a little bit.

A few weeks after Zorro arrived, some very good friends came to visit. They brought their adorable terrier mix "Chester" for a play date. In his excitement to meet everyone, Chester (on leash) made an excited dash in Zorro's direction. Muscade promptly interjected and inserted herself between the two of them. I like to think she was protecting her little brother (not that there was any need as Chester turned out to be a perfect gentleman).

It's not just that Zorro follows the dog. He is, in fact, very dog-like: He comes when called, he's the first one to greet you when you pull into the driveway, he adores attention, and he follows people everywhere. He's turned out to be quite an entertaining character. Unfortunately, the only family member he can't seem to get along with is the other barn-cat-- Lilly.

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