A Decade with Dusty, Part 2: A Bond Forms
Though Dusty did not much like small children, as evidenced by his proclivity toward disappearing when kids would come to visit, he was always good with them when he was cornered or otherwise presented without choices other than accepting or hurting them. I’ve painted him as a very tough-guy cat with a dominant personality, and he was. He was also, however, the most adaptable cat with whom I’ve ever been associated, and was always gentle with children right up to the point where he saw an escape route.
There was a time just before we moved from that first apartment, when a high school friend was leaving the Air Force and wanted to move to St. Cloud with his wife and their two children. I invited them to stay with us for a few weeks while they looked for work and housing. The kids were, if memory serves, seven years old and about twenty months old, both boys. They were generally good kids, but they were kids, so there was much more activity and energy around the place than Dusty and I were used to. That first night that they were with us, he came out from under the bed as I prepared to lie down and read, jumped on the bed and sat on my pillow. It was obvious that I was not going to be continuing the adventures of a Heinlein character without first having to face a difficult conversation with Dusty.
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We spent a little bit of time on chin rubs and ear scruffs and head dives against my hand and ribs, before he finally stood with his front paws on my left thigh, touched his nose gently against my jaw, and asked; “Blert?” What could I tell him other than the truth? I explained that they would only be with us for a relatively short time, and that I understood his concern about the small amount of space in our apartment, while he listened with solemn attention. He then walked to the foot of the bed, sat, and began grooming his paws and legs, and I lay down on my left side to begin reading. I managed to finish two whole chapters about a teenage young man on a survival test on another planet, before Dusty decided it was time to sleep on this new situation. He came and sat on my book and touched my forehead with his nose. I nudged him off the book, closed it with a bookmark and set it on the floor before shutting off the lamp next to the bed. After I settled myself with pillow and sheet, Dusty stretched out with his head on my shoulder and purred me to sleep.