Bilbo in his prisonThis time last year when, as you may remember, I was very nearly abducted, I thought things could not get any worse. How wrong I was! This year has been many times worse. I’ve had more visits to the vet than I care to remember, and in the midst of it all we got a dog. Say no more. Well – no, I’m going to say quite a lot more about it in fact, because it needs to be said. But let me start at the beginning…

Due to a pain in my leg, which Mum discovered because I couldn’t help limping, I had to have an operation on my knee, back in spring – my favourite time of year, when mice and little bunnies are plentiful in the field next door. But no hunting for me. I felt rough for a long time after the operation and at first had to spend several days in a cage with a cone around my neck. Oh, the humiliation of it! Even when I felt better the humans kept me indoors for ages and ages. I cannot tell you how boring that was. There is a limit to how long you can watch birds from a window.

When I was finally allowed outside, I tried to make up for all the weeks of my imprisonment by racing around the garden, but after just a short while my leg began to hurt again. Mum started giving me those looks that always end up with a trip to the vet. He said there was nothing he could do about my knee until it had healed some more. That was fine by me. I was just getting used to my limp when, one day in summer, the humans brought home a small, wriggly bundle of nuisance about my own size which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be – a puppy! I was appalled, as you can well imagine. The creature was everywhere: it pounced on me from behind corners; it stole my food and my drink; it ran after me wherever I went and even disturbed my sleep. Mum told me it just wanted to play, but having observed what it did to its toys, I declined politely. Now let me tell you something about puppies: subtlety is not their strength. The puppy did not understand ‘no’ until I gave it a taste of my right paw, and even then, it kept coming back for more. Mum asked me to be patient because it was just a baby and would learn. I told her I never wanted a baby and to get rid of it. But of course she didn’t.

Come autumn, the vet took another look at my leg and decided the pins in my knee had come loose and had better be removed. Another operation – and how was I going to cope with a puppy, now twice my size, running after me? I think the humans had the same worry, and Mum didn’t let the dog out of her sight once I was back home (no crate this time and a much smaller scar, luckily).

Bilbo and the puppyBut amazingly the dog, normally so slow on the uptake, realised I was injured and behaved well around me for the first time ever, letting me lie in his bed and not chasing me. I think this sudden change of mood has something to do with the Christmas decorations that appeared around the house while I was away, with the smell of baking and the music Mum puts on at this time of year. Even a dog notices those things, and how they spell peace and friendship. Now we sit on the hearth rug together when the fire is on. I’m learning to speak some Dog, and the puppy is slowly beginning to understand Cat. My wound is healing well, and I’m back to hunting outside. I’m still limping, but I don’t let that slow me down. I caught a mouse on my very first walk! Just before Christmas we saw a lady who moved a strange, hot stick up and down my leg (I think she may be a witch) and gave me some exercises to do. Mum and I do them each morning, and I get extra Dreamies just for a bit of walking around in circles! How good is that?

I think it’s going to be a good New Year for us, after all. I hope for you, too, and I wish you all the fun, happiness and Dreamies you can get!

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)