Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cats and Dogs

I am not much of a cat person. For me (and I know others disagree or could care less), man's best friend is a good dog.

There are always exceptions, of course. Socks the cat, who has adopted Saint Meinrad Archabbey as her home since late last summer, is one of those exceptions. As I've mentioned in previous posts, she showed up one day as a scrawny kitten, lapped up the attention by monks, guests, and students, and now earns her keep catching mice and enertaining guests. Guests to the monastery have made donations to help feed and spay her, and Br. Zachary has supplied a "cat igloo" on the guesthouse porch for the cat to take refuge from the wind, snow, and rain.

Socks (perhaps we should call her Scholastica,which would be more fittinging in many respects) is such an exceptionally friendly, playful, people-loving cat that she almost seems like a dog sometimes. On this sunny, unusually warm February Sunday afternoon, I took a walk outside. Waiting for me, it seemed, outside the monastery door near the rock garden was Socks, who ran to greet me. I sat down on the steps for a minute, and she wasted no time hopping into my arms to have her neck and ears scratched. Within seconds, she was purring contentedly. When I got up to continue with my walk, she began prancing around and showing off atop the retaining wall, so I stopped to take a few pictures (I had remembered to grab my camera before going outside). Naturally, this prompted her to become even more animated. What a ham.

Below is Dixie, the dog I had for 13 years before coming to the monastery in 2006. Giving her up (to a good family) was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I never saw her again--she died almost three years ago. It may be difficult for some to understand, but Dixie taught me a lot about life. Although I "saved" her from the pound when she was a very sick, scrawny, and timid puppy, in very real ways Dixie helped "save" me. I will probably always miss her.

I doubt she would have gotten along too well with Socks. Then again, for Dixie, Public Enemy No. 1 was not a cat, but the S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L.

Dixie (1993-2008) on squirrel patrol in our former back yard.


Anonymous said...

Socks is quite the cat, and I too have never been a cat person. I intern there in the summer with the OBOC program, and brought some friends to visit the Archabbey around New Years.

Apart from being like a dog, she is also like a parrot. She had no problem climbing up onto my shoulders and perching there as I tried to walk around!

John said...

Very nice post. I've seen this cat outside my window quite often. Your dog looked like he was a good friend.

Br. Francis de Sales Wagner said...

Thank you Suaso and John.

I have heard of Socks' parrot imitation but have not experienced it myself. Quite the cat.

Yes, Dixie was a good friend. One of the best.

Br. Francis

Matt Scheeser said...

Last night I said goodbye to my cat of seven years, Georgia. Like you, it was one of the hardest things I've had to do. While I still have time before I come to the hill, I thought it prudent to start the grieving process now.

Hope you are well!

Br. Francis de Sales Wagner said...

Matt, I feel for you. It's never easy to make a choice between two goods. I still miss Dixie.

... but "there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive back an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come." (Lk 18:29-30)

Not the same, but Socks will also never get enough attention around here. The cat owns the place.

Br. Francis