In a popularity contest between cats and dogs, history has always been kinder to the canine. Consider that of 44 presidents, 35 had dogs at the White House. The Clintons had a cat, Socks, that became a media darling until Buddy, a dog, arrived, and then Socks quickly became a historical footnote. Over the years, I’ve written many columns about Bernie and almost none about our cat Sunshine, who flunked the Dale Carnegie course and then tried to scratch Dale himself.
But Sunshine most certainly has her supporters — actually one: our daughter, Maggie. She points out that Sunshine was a rescue, has co-existed with a bumbling 50-pound, high-energy inhabitant who hogs the common areas and eats her food at every opportunity. But Sunshine is not simply anti-social — in our home that puts her in good company. She’s, well, can I say it? Mean.“Just to you,” Maggie reminds me.
And if I ever get to heaven, my fear is that when I arrive, what will happen will be akin to a dream like this one: A man greets me at the pearly gates. His name tag says St. Peter. Dressed in all white satin, he has a skeptical look on this face.
The conversation will go something like this:
St. Peter (SP) says: Mr., uh, (reading spreadsheet), Keenan, what have you done to deserve heaven?
MDK: She is a cat. A rescue. She was taken from the streets and placed in our home. We welcomed her, uh, him without knowledge of her gender or social status. She’s been family for 10 years. She is temperamental, difficult and disengaged. I think she is a she but we don’t know but we’ve treated her like the other women in the house.
A: She gets what she wants.
SP: I see. Go on.
MDK: We tried to domesticate her. But she still bites, claws and scratches. She leaves for days at a time and goes to the neighbors’, where they feed her, comfort her and allow her to take over the house.
SP: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
MDK: There is more. Bernie doesn’t like her.
MDK: She’s our dog. Bernie sits on the landing in the stairs and it’s a barricade, separating our rental in two parts. So we carry Sunshine over the stairs because Bernie has low tolerance for pampered pets. (SP paused, looked to the clouds, as if he were receiving direction. Suddenly, I need Depends.)
SP: It’s not your time. Sunshine needs to be moved down the stairs. Continue to oblige her.
SP: Is that all you have? Have you done everything else the Dominicans instructed you at St. Patrick’s? Those things Sister Mary Rose mentioned to you?
MDK: Sister Mary Rose! How is she?
SP: She is busy guarding the other gate. She hasn’t mentioned you. Only your brother Marty. Apparently he’s past due for a confession.
MDK: OK. I have more to tell you. I have this Powerpoint. Do you have a projector nearby? With a surge protector?
SP: What have you done for the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, and the depressed?
MDK: I’m a KU football season ticket-holder.
SP: That’s not what I had in mind.
SP: Sunshine has three sisters, two brothers and five of unknown gender. They need a home. Go to Wayside Waifs and rescue them. Give them what they need and keep Bernie out of the way. And then we will talk.
The dream suddenly ended. I woke up and I jumped out of bed. Lori asked me, “What’s wrong?”
My response was quick: “I’m going to hell.”