The cats are unsettled. They do not understand this strange new creature in the house. So far Ralph has managed, it would seem, not to notice them, though yesterday when he went over to the cat bowls, no cats in sight, he must have caught a whiff of them. Sniff, sniff on the floor around the bowls and Ralph let out a few puppy dog growls rearing back from the empty bowls.

It must be instinctive. I think of all the cartoons and stories about the antipathy between cats and dogs; cats and dogs, like siblings, like brothers and sisters. They fight like cats and dogs, we say. I think it was one of my mother’s expressions.

It is as if we have a new baby in the house. Bill is still not convinced of the dog’s name. He wants to call him Towser. To Bill, all dogs are Towsers. I find the uncertainty of naming the puppy unsettling. I am reminded of those parents who are unable to decide upon a name for their babies, months after the birth. It seems to me it must impact on your personality, your sense of your self, your ultimate identity for the rest of your life. As if your parents in the first instance could not decide for themselves basic things about you. As if perhaps they were looking for the perfect name, to name the perfect baby, who of course does not exist.

If all dogs are Towsers, then our dog deserves a name of his own. Still, I too would like to call him Towser, though Ralph suits just fine. After all we once called a cat Pickles and another Tillie. We once called our rabbits, Muncheros and CCs after particular brands of corn chips and another the obvious, Peter. We once called our mice, Flora and Alexander and that’s only the beginning. We once called a green tree frog, Picasso.

These animals once belonged to individual daughter’s but over the passage of time they have blended in to become part of the folklore of this family. Our memories of them reflect the changes we’ve made. Once our cats were not even allowed inside, now they share our beds. Even our little dog has made it inside, at least for the time.

How much more tolerant we have become with age.

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