Yesterday, as I was going into the studio, Smokey darted in with me. Smokey is a lovely lilac-point Siamese that Kevin trapped last year,* loves everybody. He walked through, bumping heads with Ben and Angus, and left again while they were still going "...who was that Masked Cat?"
Next time I went into the studio, Gir the beagle was clinging tight to my heels. "Fine," I said. "Might as well see how it goes."
Gir weighs maybe thirty-five pounds. Ben's nearly twenty (he's gotten fat in the last two months, which is entirely my fault for leaving him alone for the weekends and dumping too much food in the bowl to tide 'em over, and his diet/workout regimen begins NOW.) You would think that this would mean that Gir is nearly twice Ben's size, but when they're facing each other, you realize that no, these are two comparably sized animals. Ben is practically Gir's size, and only some of that is personality.
I suspect that Gir, who lives with a kitty rescuer, after all, and has seen many cats come and go, had come to think of them as small, fast, pointy objects that get even more pointy when you attempt to snuffle them. He had never before, in his wildest doggy imaginings, concieved of a cat that fought in his weight class.
Gir came in on my heels, looked up, and saw Death.
Angus let out a brief singsong growl and backed away, more out of surprise than anything else, I suspect. But Ben looked up, and said "You're a dog. I know EXACTLY what to do with dogs."** And got up. And advanced.
I sat down to try and mediate, although what I was going to be mediating, other than severe lacerations, was anyone's guess.
Some cats fluff up to try and make themselves look bigger. Ben just hulks like a linebacker. His ears don't flatten, his tail doesn't puff, but he does get a line of bristled fur along his spine.
He advanced farther. He opened his mouth and hissed.
Gir said "Ohmygod, it's the devil," and dove behind me, turning into an improbably tiny little ball of beagle and cramming himself into the corner of the room.
Ben continued to advance.
Gir shoved his chest into my back and tucked his head under my arm so that he could watch the feline menace without actually making eye-contact. I patted him.
Ben hissed again, possibly because the dog was touching his human, but halted. I suspect he was unsure of how to attack without going over the top of me, and was weighing the cost-benefit analysis of taking me out as well.
Unwilling to be collateral damage, I opened the door and Gir fled into the hallway, away from the horrible beast that looked like a cat and was the size of an aurochs.
A few hours later, I opened the door again, and Ben poked his head out.
The welcoming committee was arrayed on the landing outside the door--Sami, the black dominant female cat, Smokey and Gir. And just to one side, at the top of the stairs, not quite visible from inside the room, lay Brandon the border collie.
Ben looked from one to the next, dismissing them with feline contempt. Sami--"I can take you." Smokey--"I can totally take you." Gir--"I will destroy you and sow your bones with salt." (Gir whined and retreated down the hallway from the force of that glare.)
Then he poked his head around the corner, and saw a wall of border collie. (Brandon is a freakishly large specimen, weighing in at seventy pounds, none of which is fat.) Brandon turned his head and looked at Ben.
"Whoa." Ben stepped back into the room, trying not to look alarmed. "I don't think I can take you."*** He looked at me, looked back out into a world which contained gigantic fluffy dog things, and allowed as how I could probably close the door now and that would be okay.
At the time of this writing, Gir is crashed out at my feet, and Ben and Angus are cautiously exploring the house. The studio is now Their Turf, and they retreat here, but so far, everybody seems to be getting along fine. The day will undoubtedly come when Ben drops on Gir like the angel of death and rides him around the house, whooping, but it hasn't happened yet.
So far, so good...
*He's part of a local feed-trap-neuter program. They've run out of space at the moment, so they're doing fix-and-release trapping. Mind you, if anybody wants a rescue kitty, we've got two here that could use new homes...
**All translations from Feline and Canine approximate.
***The irony being that if he smacked Brandon, Brandon would say "...okay. I suppose I deserved that," and hang his head, and go find a human to reassure him that he is still a good dog.