Chapter 2 – Meet Tasha
One day in April Honey brought home this white ball of fur. She was HUGE. I see Honey bringing this thing out into the barn and asked Honey who in the heck this is and why is this monster here. Honey grinned at me and said, “Stripe, I want you to meet Tasha. She is only three months old.” I about fell off the bale of hay I was sitting on as I gaped at this puppy. Surely Honey was joking with me. I looked at the puppy and then back to Honey to see if she was indeed laughing at me. But she wasn’t. She bent over and hugged the puppy and then looked up at me. “Stripe, Tasha is a Great Pyrenees.” Well, I’ll be. Never heard of that kind of dog before. So I asked Honey, “What is she for? I mean, you already got two dogs.” Honey and the Sheriff have Shot-zee, a Rat Terrier, and Beanie, a Chihuahua, I thought that was plenty and yet here Tasha was. Good Grief! Then Tasha lifted her head and looked at me with those big soft brown eyes and I fell in love. I mean, I know she is a puppy, a big puppy who will be a great big dog but she looked so sweet and soft and squeezable. I grinned a silly grin at Honey as she straightened up. Honey said, “I know Stripe. She effects everyone that way. She is just so sweet.” So Tasha became my best bud there and then. It was a strange friendship between a scarred cat and a soft, squishy, H U G E puppy. But there it was. I knew we would be friends for life.
I asked Honey if I could take her around and introduce Tasha to everyone. Honey said, “Oh, Stripe that would be so sweet for you to do that.” I ducked my head at that. I feel funny when Honey says things like that to me. After all, I am a tough barn cat. I keep Barn Town safe, well with the Sheriff’s help, I keep it safe. However, when Honey says things like that to me I get this funny feeling rolling around in the pit of my belly like butterflies or a June bug fliting around and I make this purr sound kind of like the rumbling, low growl of a bull elephant. But, I am deputy and all that mushy stuff is inappropriate for my job.
The first place I decide to take Tasha to was to meet the chickens. They are a nervous bunch. Fliting here and there. Always on the run and the biggest bunch of gossips I have ever met. I catch the eye of C.J. out in the duck yard and mosey over his way. He is the head rooster here. To be truthful, he is the only rooster but I always tell him that he is the head rooster which makes him poke his chest out. C.J. is really not so bad. He is a white leghorn with a really snappy red comb on the top of his head. His feathers are always in place and his tail feathers are a beauty to behold. They make this big arch and wave ever so slightly in the breeze. He picks his feet up real high when he walks. It gives him a short stilted military strut like I saw once on the TV.
As we were walking to where C.J. was standing, I tell Tasha, “C.J. is on guard duty for the hens so you need to be quiet.”
She looks down at me and in a soft little girl voice whispers, “What do you mean guard duty?”
We continued walking and as I started to answer her C.J. turns his head around briefly to look at us. One glance and he had all the information he needed. He is quick like that. C.J. swiveled his head back around to check on the hens. His head is constantly in motion or at least his eyes are. He watches the hens, the ducks, the geese, the goats, the sky, the ground just round and round and back and forth.
C.J. says to Tasha as his eyes continue to move, “Little girl, I watch for danger to my flock.” How did he know Tasha was a little girl I wondered?
Just as I was about to ask, C.J. says to Tasha, “I am C.J. and what would be your name?”
I quickly remember my manners and introduce Tasha to C.J. He nods his heads in acknowledgement but doesn’t stop his vigil of watching out for the flock.
Tasha asks C.J. in that soft little voice of hers, which continues to surprises me because she is so big, “What are you looking for? Could I help you find it?” She is sweet like that I think.
C.J. looks up at her for a minute and then back to the sky. “I watch for hawks, foxes, and other dangers to the flock. It is my job to let the hens know if there is a danger to them.”
“Oh”, Tasha said as she looked around quickly and then slowly said. “I don’t see any of those things.” She continued very earnestly as she looked down at C.J. “I have really, really good eyesight, too.” C.J. and I just grinned at each other. I let C.J. know that Tasha would be living here now. C.J. just nodded again and stepped a little bit over to the barn and continued his job.
Well, I thought to myself, guess that is that then. “Tasha,” I said, “let’s go meet the dogs next door since we are already outside.” Tasha nodded her head and followed me as we went out of the duck yard and into the east field. Tasha had to shorten her steps in order to walk with me and I stretched out my steps as well.
When we got to the fence the neighbors dogs came charging out to the fence. I told Tasha, “Just stand still and don’t move. I’ll do the talking, OK?” and then I looked up at Tasha. She was looking down at me and nodded her head.
Spike, a cocky, massive, heavy muscled Rottweiler was wearing his traditional, black, biker, spiked collar with the chains that were on it swinging as he came swaggering up to the fence. I never saw him without it. He also had a very nasty temperament. Maybe that was why his yard had this really tall fence around it with two strands of barb wired at the top. He was not one of my favorite neighbors but I wanted to make sure that he would be nice, or as nice as he could be, to Tasha.
Right on his heels was Jonesy and Mac. Jonesy, a mostly white, nervous, fast talking wire haired terrier who was a rescue dog that Spike’s owner had brought home about three years ago. According to the chickens, who seem to know everything that is worth knowing, Jonesy had been somehow traumatized as a puppy. Guess that explains why he shakes from head to toe all the time. If you ever want to know anything about anybody just ask a chicken. They have all the tasty tidbits on everyone. Heaven knows what they say about me.
Anyway, as I was saying, on the other side of Spike is Mac. He just showed up one day the chickens told me. He is a street dog they say. I don’t know why Spike let him stay but I guess he has his reasons. Maybe it is because Mac never says a word, about anything. He just follows Spike everywhere. He is a patchwork of colors of undetermined heritage small dog. Even the chickens do not have much to say about Mac.
I sat down waiting for Spike to stop his show of how important he is and how busy he is. I started grooming my paw and told Tasha to relax. I had one ear turned toward Tasha and one ear turned toward the fence. I slowly wrapped my tail around me as I became the pictures of laziness while I really was on high alert. Tasha was standing by me, slowly wagging her long white tail back and forth. She had such a sweet baby face and she was trembling slightly as we waited for the talking to begin.
Spike, after making a big production of checking the yard again, looked over at us. He stepped up to the fence, pushed his chest out and glared at us. Jonesy and Mac were on either side of him. They would look at us and then at Spike ready to do whatever he said. I ignore his two yes men and looked Spike directly in the eyes.
“Spike’, I said nicely, “this is Tasha and she will be living here.” I waited for Spike to make his usual sarcastic reply but all he said in a deep gruff voice was, “Where’s Shot-zee”.
Shot-zee, I think, Shot-zee? “I don’t know. Probably in Village House, why? You need him for something?”
Spike’s lips curl back and sneered at me. “Just wanted to be sure, you little weasel”, and then nodding at Tasha, “that you hadn’t gotten rid of my friend for her.” Tasha drew a sharp breathe in almost a whimper due to Spike’s hateful words. While Spike is speaking, Jonesy is busy repeating everything he’s saying and shaking from head to toe. He is almost unable to stand due to this action. Mac, however, is just standing there like maybe he’s asleep or something. I think that those two need a lot of help: medical, mental, something.
I flick my tail and take my time answering Spike. I reach over to Tasha and pat her paw to comfort her. Very dismissively I say to Spike, “I have no idea why you would say that. Honey takes very good care of that boy. There is no way on God’s green earth she would get rid of him for any reason.”
“Hump”, Spike growls. “Well that had better be true.” Jonesy, the repeating parrot, is right on cue and Mac still hasn’t moved. I really worry about those two but they have been that way as long as I have known them. Guess they won’t change.
“Well,” I say to Spike, “just wanted to introduce you to your new neighbor.”
While I was still speaking, Spike and his crew turn around and prance back to their porch where they spend most of their day when they are not patrolling their yard. Spike’s owner, boss, likes Spikes hard. They just lie for most of the day on their sunny porch and at night go into their house.
It’s getting late in the day and looking at Tasha I can tell she is tired. She may be as big as a grown boxer but she is only three months old and needs her nap. So I lead this big puppy back to Village House so she can rest. The remainder of the intros to the residents of Barn Town will have to wait. My girl needs her nap.