The Ranger stuck his head in the car window and whistled in appreciation, “Nice little coyote you got there!” he said, nodding at the dog. The cat smiled up at him and started to purr from her seat in back beside the dog. Marty and I looked at each other. We tried to comprehend what the man was saying.
“Where’d you get ‘er from? Boy! She’s a beaut!” The Ranger was purely ecstatic.
The cat apparently thought he was complimenting her. After all, she had raised the dog, maybe she was having those proud feelings moms get when their kids are complimented.
The Ranger’s face clouded: “She got her shots?”
We were really getting confused.
Finally, Marty said to him, “My dog is a . . . coyote?” (In Nevada we say “coyotee” instead of how they say the name of this little wolf in other places, “kai-ote”.)
I looked back at Marty and shrugged one shoulder. “We did find her on the porch, you know.”
We’d lived on the far outskirts of town, nothing much between us and the back landing strip of Nellis AFB. Nellis was really a long way from our place, and when we did hear a jet or two, we didn’t really mind. My husband and I, my two horses- Star and Cheyenne, and our cat- Meenie, lived out in the country and were glad to be there. Marty worked in the casino cage at the Flamingo Hotel on the “fabulous” Las Vegas Strip. His salary allowed me to stay home and keep the place up, work with the horses, and put in a garden.
I loved having things right for Marty when he got home in the morning from his Graveyard shift. If we had some shopping or something else to do, we did it together right after he got home. We did everything together that we could, and Marty never let his job get in the way.
We were still newlyweds, hoping for children to come, when Marty found a little tiny grey, shivering, crying puppy on our front porch one morning when he got home from work. He picked it up and brought it in, saying, “Honey, this little guy needs a mom! That and a hot meal. He looks really hungry.”
When he handed the pup to me, I told him the “little guy” was a little girl, but he was right about the rest of the info. We heated up some soup and put some bread in it, and some cat food. Dogs can live on cat food, but cats can’t live on dog food- there isn’t enough fat or protein in dog food for cats.
Meenie had raised the dog, and she had been raised by my parents’ dog, an extremely intelligent Keeshond. The Kees could actually say several English words clearly, including “Hello” and “Mamma”. She said it with true “ell” sounds, not with “arr” sounds, like that dog on cartoons.
Smart as she was, she never figured out what to do with Meenie. As a tiny kitten, Meenie would go into the living room, and get under the sofa, upside down. Then she’d call, “Mee! Mee!” When the dog answered her and came in, she’d scoot and scoot and scoot with her claws in the underside of the sofa, and time it so that she’d shoot out, paws-up and waving madly in the dog’s face from under the couch across to under the chair. The dog would be left standing there with one paw in the air, looking silly.
By the time we got our new pup, Meenie was a very large cat that wouldn’t fit under the tallest couch ever made. But she was still playing tricks: She’d go into the utility porch and call and call until I came in. If I didn’t come in soon enough, then she’d start lifting the lid on the washing machine and dropping it: Mee! Mee! CLUNK! Mee! Mee! CLUNK! CLUNK!, till I couldn’t stand it any longer and I’d walk in. I knew what was going to happen, but she still startled me every time: She’d leap up from the top of the washer, waving her paws like she’d done as a kitten just a hair’s breadth from my face, then drop to the floor, “PLOP!”. Then she’d scamper out. An hour or two later, she’d be back at it. That cat nearly gave up her guts for violin strings! I was close, I’ll tell you!
Well, once she had a pup to raise, Meenie calmed down about that, but she was really disappointed when the pup failed to learn how to pick up the washer lid. Come to think of it, she could never teach the dog to say, “Mee” convincingly, either. She never gave up, though.
As the pup grew, it began to get boisterous, pouncing at the cat, and pulling the cat’s trick of bouncing out from corners and dark spots. Meenie’s answer to that was the old Ninja Flip—she’d whip onto her back, put her hind legs under the dog’s chest and flip the dog over her head. One time I saw the dog do a double flip with a twist. Eventually the dog gave up trying to bounce and pounce and scare the cat—it just never would happen.
As our family finally grew, we had a son, Marty Heim III, whom we called “Trey”. The dog taught Trey to walk: Trey held her tail. The dog wasn’t very tall, but after practicing with his dad and me, Trey got steady enough to just hang onto the tail and toddle along behind. Our coyote was as gentle as I was with our son. No pouncing—thanks to the cat’s tutelage. Our coyote greeted us every time we came home from having been gone. She always greeted Marty effusively when he got home from the casino. She was the same way when Trey got home from school: All over him.
And then we had a little girl. By now, Meenie had passed on, and our dog was pretty gray in the muzzle- gray all the way up into her ears. She gave her best, but she didn’t have a lot to give any more.
With the eventual loss of our beloved little dog, who was only a coyote by a trick of birth, we all decided to sell the horses, sell the property and move into town. Without the two of them, home just wasn’t home any more. Besides, I’d gotten hurt very badly at work, and needed more help than I could get out in the boonies.
Now the kids are grown and gone too, both of them to good jobs and good marriages. We often look back to before the kids came, when we went camping with the dog and the cat that raised her. Those were good times. Really good times. And when we bought the trailer and took two kids and two pets with us- those were the days!
Oh, and yes to the Ranger—she had her rabies vaccination and everything else. And she was spayed. Funny, the vet never caught on. Well, neither did we.
Marty and Cheryl, as they might recall their early marriage times when they found a puppy on their front porch.