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Simon Meets Eclipse
Seattle dog takes solo trips to the park via city bus
A black Labrador named Eclipse has been riding city buses without her owner to a local dog park, according to local transportation officials ...
The bus trips ridden by Eclipse, the black Labrador, are occasionally shared by a pet cat named Simon, who himself has a shiny black coat quite comparable to that of Eclipse. Unlike Eclipse, however, Simon is always in a carry-on transport cage accompanied by his ‘hostess’ owner while on his way to receive regular veterinary treatment in the form of monthly injections for an undisclosed ongoing ailment.
Perhaps not surprising, Simon is secretly envious of Eclipse’s very unconventional liberty, regardless of Simon nevertheless being much too typically-feline nervous to take advantage of such unprecedented freedom had it even been offered to him.
Contrarily, in fact, Simon takes considerable comfort in his great sense of travel security as long as he’s in his locked cage, itself held firmly by his owner.
As for the lucky dog, every time the cat witnessed Eclipse stop the bus and board entirely on his own, Simon felt pity for the dog’s master who could at present be needlessly worrying about his pet canine.
At any rate, during their first shared bus trip together nothing specific was communicated between the two animals (which would be telepathically translated into animal terminology, of course). On the second trip, however, they intently acknowledged one another and exchanged their names as well as the following thoughts of theirs.
Simon: [wide-eyed] You sure are one lucky dog, the way you get onto the bus and nobody does anything about it—except, of course, smile and giggle and gush with their adoration for you and your persistence and … and … Hey, your coat’s a gorgeous shiny black, by the way. But I bet you get told that a lot, huh.
Eclipse: [also wide-eyed, though solely due to anticipation of another great day at the dog park] Shiny or dull; black or white—I don’t put much stock in such superficialities [she briefly glances at Simon before resuming her watch for her approaching bus stop at the dog park].
Simon: Where exactly do you go in there, anyway? I mean within the doggy park’s grounds? To its doggy playground? Its doggy water fountain? Where, exactly?
Eclipse: Just about everywhere within the park. Once there a dog can go anywhere in the entire place.
Simon: Why don’t you wait for your host to come along with you on the bus?
Eclipse: [Blinks with some guilt as she again briefly looks at Simon] Because he was too busy smoking back at home. And why do you refer to him as my ‘host’?
Simon: Well, do you consider him to be your owner or ‘master’? And you should be grateful to have such a fine host in the first place—‘He was too busy smoking,’ you say. Why should he have to hurry himself or his cigarette just to accommodate your typical hyperactive canine rush to get to your doggy park?
Eclipse: I don’t expect him to hurry himself or his smoking for me, although I really do wish that he’d permanently quit the terribly stinky, toxic habit (it sometimes even stings my nasals). I just feel like getting an early start for the park, even if it’s on my own; I really need my exercise, you know. And I prefer ‘master’—not ‘host’, thanks anyway.
Simon: [squinting] Fine, ‘master’ then it is. But perhaps you should be thinking ‘host’. He may pick up your new sense of independence and appreciate it and cherish you all the more if you behave more like an equal. That’s assuming, of course, that it’s even possible for him to cherish you any more than he already does. I’ve learned all of that for myself [he briefly turns his head back for a glimpse of his hostess as he murrs to her through some of the many small openings in his carry-on transport cage].
Eclipse: Master or host—whatever; he’s still the one who shelters and feeds and adores me, and he spends so much quality play time with me … Anyhow, the next stop is mine. I’ll await my master there [she steps up to the bus doors and commences wagging her tail, during which she’s followed by verbal adoration from passengers as she hops off and runs into the park].
Simon’s next visit to the veterinary clinic happens to coincide with another of Eclipse’s bus rides to the dog park, again independent of her master’s presence ...
Simon: [Awakens, yawns, then notices that he’s feeling somewhat on the sarcastic surly side that afternoon. He turns his head to look at Eclipse and the dog glances back] Another day at the park? I take it that your ‘master’ again couldn’t keep up with you. Is he always so slow or does he not even realize that you’ve taken the liberty to go on your own?
Eclipse: [Keeping most of her attention intently focused ahead while ignoring though maybe also reciprocating some of Simon’s sarcasm] Oh, he knows when I’ve moved on ahead of him and taken the earlier bus. He was busy cleaning out the garage at home when I left. I see you’re in your box again. Where’s your host taking you this time? To some other animal park along this bus route? A kitty park, perhaps?
Simon: [very seriously] She’s my hostess, not host; and it’s my ‘carry-on cage’. And, no, I don’t wish to go to any park; I don’t much care about running through green grass and big bushed and such stuff. Although, I do love galloping up and down my hallway at home when I’m feeling especially good. [Simon suddenly loses his attitude] Actually, my hostess is taking me to the vet’s for my usual injection, something that’s supposed to keep me healthy. But I feel fine, really. Hey, have you ever noticed that there’s something about how a vet confidently handles your body when on the examination table that seems almost hypnotizing, if not even somewhat paralyzing? Sure, I can still move and all, but … I guess it’s kind of hard to explain exactly what I mean. Maybe it’s because the vet is so confident and authoritative with his patients; I heard that somewhere.
Eclipse: It probably all works out for the best. I’ve pretty much had all that you’ve just mentioned happen to me at my vet’s—the check-up, etcetera—but I don’t need to be paralyzed, hypnotized, or whatever you said your vet does to you and other patients. It’s because I just sit there as still as a log in the first place and move about only as my doctor handily directs me to move.
Simon: I think that’s at least partly due to your collective nature, and I mean that of all you canines; you’re naturally more docile than us felines, generally speaking. Not all canine breeds, mind you, but I’ve heard that most are. Plus I—
Eclipse: [With her thoughts wandering for lack of interest in Simon’s observations on the matter, she unwittingly cuts off the caged cat who seemingly likes to hear himself think] I sure hope the park’s water fountain has been fixed. The last time I was there it wasn’t running. I was sure left thirsty until I got home. In fact, I was rushing my master back onto the bus home.
Simon: [Eyes open wider] Oh, yes, do I know thirsty! Two nights ago my hostess told me how ‘precious’ I looked as I sporadically twitched and squeaked while dreaming next to her on the couch. She said it was the first time ever that she’d watched a pet cat dream while repeatedly moving about his tongue in and out of his mouth exactly as he would while lapping up his drink. She said that I did so on and off for about five minutes until I awoke, yet still very thirsty at that; then I immediately got up and took a long drink from my fresh-water bowl. I couldn’t remember ever being so thirsty that I so vividly dreamt about it. But then again, it was a really hot day and by the time I fell asleep I … [He suddenly stops to mention an aside about which he’d heard from his hostess that was of importance to him as a cat] By the way, did you know that we felines actually have a form of ‘sleeping fluid’ in our spinal cord that enables us to actually fall asleep within a few seconds’ times and then however much time later wake up fully alert almost instantly? Unfortunately, though, I’ve also heard that such fluid is extremely painful to have extracted from the spinal cord of the cat lab-test subjects, done so in order to test and perhaps from which to eventually find a remedy for people’s insomnia. When my hostess is simply too busy or too tired from work to fully attend to my boredom or playfulness, I soon end up sleeping deep, and it’s so easy for me to—
Eclipse: [Sees the park approaching which was the only thing she had in mind] Yeah, you were ‘precious’. Anyway, my stop’s next. See ya.
Simon: [Still staring straight ahead and totally unaware that his monologue had just been abruptly cut off by Eclipse who’s already departed the bus] —do so. And unlike with some other pet cats, my hostess has informed me, a brief few seconds of scratching or token petting on my head doesn’t suffice for me as sufficient attention. I require a combination of fine, firm petting and talking-to, such as her repeated assurances that I’m a really good boy, or cat. Oh, and it’s complete bliss when she gives my neck a good scratching with her long finger nails—all around my neck muscles as I slowly turn my neck this way and that, firmly though not too firmly but rather just right, just perfect; and that’s all usually a prelude to ... ■
Frank G Sterle Jr