Pretty much all my life I’ve been a dog person

Growing up
There’s always been one breed or another
In my house

A. Mutt: Part Collie / Part German shepherd
B. Samoyed Husky
C. Shetland Collie

Indeed
I practically came out of the womb holding a dog
And I’m sure that when I’m on my deathbed
I’ll have one at my side

I can’t quite explain this firm allegiance to Canis lupus familiaris
Maybe my father passed on the dog-loving gene to me
Or maybe when my mom was pregnant with me
She sat too close to the television while watching Lassie episodes

 

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Now mind you
It’s not that I hate cats

It’s just that I’ve never really developed much of a bond for the animal

To me
Dogs have always represented Bob Dylan playing electric for the first time at Royal Albert Hall

Cats: Maria Callas singing Turandot (Puccini)

Dogs: streaking

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Cats: a lovely Sunday stroll in the park

Dogs: James Brown wailing and proto-moon walking across the Apollo stage in 1962

Cats: Barry White coolly crooning “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe”

DogsSteve McQueen in Bullitt

Cats: Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Granted
There’s nothing wrong with Maria Callas, a stroll in the park, Barry White, or Tim Curry

It’s just that I like Bob Dylan, streaking, James Brown, and Steve McQueen much better

Recently, however
My dog feelings have been put to the test

Big time

It started toward the end of last year
Right around the time my girlfriend and I had finished watching Season One of The Dog Whisperer

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We mutually expressed an interest in bringing a pet into our house

We both agreed, however, that a dog would probably be out of the question for now
As our apartment is so small
And we’re both away from home for a good part of the day

“What about a cat?” my girlfriend said. “Would that be a possibility?”

My girlfriend
She was raised with both cats and dogs in her house
It was easy for her to make a comment like that

When it came to those animals she could swing both ways

But as for me
Given my history, or lack of history, with Felis silvestris catus
I balked at the idea

“A cat in the house? No way.”

But the more my girlfriend discussed the idea
The more open I became to the possibility

This openness to having a cat in the house began to concern me
For hours I’d wonder what kind of shift was occurring in my life to allow this to happen

What is it the desire to make my girlfriend even happier?
Was it the desire to take our relationship to the next level?
Was it to see how we’d behave with another living being in our household?

The answers to those questions:
Yes
Yes
Yes

Finally
I told my girlfriend on New Year’s Eve:
“Let’s adopt a cat.”

Even as I was saying those words I could hardly believe I was doing so
Here I was: a once-devout dog person going slightly wuss

“Are you serious?” my girlfriend said. “We can adopt a cat?”

“Sure,” I gulped. “Let’s do it.”

My girlfriend’s face went 1,000 watt bright

And let me tell you
Even though I was uneasy about my decision
It felt great to have said the C-word just to see her smile

She gave me a big hug: “You’re the best.”

Right after the holidays
The kitty search began in earnest

My girlfriend scoured the Internet for cat rescue organizations

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“Look at this site,” she said to me one night recently
“What do you think of these cats?”

This one particular site had literally a hundred cats up for adoption

Some were declawed
Some slightly overweight
Some skittish with new comers

And there were pictures for all of them

“This one’s too mean looking,” said my girlfriend
“This one’s too fat,” I said

Oh we began making assumptions all right

Tons of assumptions about these cats

It got to be like we were on-line dating

“I like this one,” my girlfriend said one night
Referring to a black cat she’d found on one particular Internet adoption site
“It looks like a cat I had as a little girl.”

I went to the computer, checked out the picture
And even though I was more than happy
To allow my girlfriend to relive her childhood pet dreams
I couldn’t completely go for it

“I don’t know. That cat looks feisty. Like she might scratch up the furniture.”
I pointed to another feline. “How about that one?”

“Are you serious?” my girlfriend said

“Yeah.” And I was
The cat seemed like a surefire safe bet

It appeared peaceful to the point of comatose

“I don’t know,” my girlfriend said. “It almost looks like it’s dead.”

“Is that such a bad thing?” I said

There were still other cats
Some, real hard luck cases

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Others had FIV (kitty aids)
Still others needed daily insulin injections

Granted
Those were the cats that probably most needed a loving home
But my girlfriend and I agreed that that home probably wasn’t ours

“Does that make us bad people?” my girlfriend said. “Because we don’t want to give a cat injections or have it be really sick?”

“No,” I said. “It doesn’t make us bad people. Hey, at least we’re trying to do something here. We’re trying to give a homeless cat a place to live and some love.”

That last word—love
I could hardly believe I was saying it and cat in the same sentence

Still
Much to my surprise I’d truly meant it

I was actually warming up to the idea of providing my girlfriend and an abandoned cat
A home filled with lots and lots of

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Coming Soon…Part II…The Adoption Process

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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