They Call It Puppy Love

There was no intention on my part to bring home a kitten that day. I had gone to visit a neighbor whose cat had delivered a large litter of kittens several weeks before. She was concerned for their welfare.

"Please consider taking home a kitten," she pleaded. "I'm going to have to take them to the shelter eventually, and after that, who knows what might happen to them?"

Of course, I couldn't help noticing how adorable these kittens were. She immediately sensed my interest. "The mother has already trained them to use the litter box."

"Really?" I asked. "But they're so young!"

"Oh, they still have accidents, but they do know they're supposed to use the box," she added.

"They are cute, and I know my two children would adore them," I said. "But I have a dog who is a notorious cat-chaser; there's no telling what he might do to one of these babies."

"Well," she said thoughtfully, "take one home and see how they get along. And if they don't, just bring the kitten back."

That sounded like a plan. I couldn't admit these cute little balls of energy had already won me over.

Before I'd even attempted to pick one out, a little calico kitty crawled onto my lap and started purring. One of them had already chosen me. So home we went to meet our dog, Scamp, a cocker spaniel mix, known as the neighborhood cat-chaser.

I didn't want to just put them together without a clue as to how Scamp would treat this little baby. As our family gathered around, I held the kitten close to Scamp so he could examine this new arrival. He was very interested, and a little puzzled, for this kitten was not afraid of him in the least. He just stood there as this little ball of fur rubbed up against him. He sensed that she was just a baby, I'm sure, and was very gentle with her.

Before the day was over, Scamp had adopted the kitten. He'd tried to wash her several times (maybe to get rid of that persistent cat smell), and was very protective as she slept under his chin between his two front paws.

We were surprised, to say the least.

AS the days went by, the two became fast friends. The calico, whom we named Kate, had a favorite game. She would run up to Scamp as he slept, smack him on the nose with her paw, and run. That resulted in a chase through the house until Kate could jump up on something just out of Scamp's reach.

When Kate came into our lives, we were living in Florida. It was necessary to give Scamp a bath at least once a week to control the flea problem. One afternoon, as I had Scamp in the bathtub, Kate came to investigate. Before I could stop her, she had jumped into the tub with him. I'd always thought cats disliked water, but Kate seemed determined that if Scamp was going to have a bath, she wanted one, too!

Scamp, who already knew the word "No!" very well, was very attentive when we tried to teach Kate not to claw the furniture or curtains. "No, Kate!" we'd say as she sank her claws into the drapes.

One day, Kate didn't listen. I jumped up to stop her, but Scamp reached her before I did. He picked her up by the scruff of her neck and gently shook her. After that, if she even attempted to be naughty in that way, Scamp was right there to correct her. She stopped this clawing altogether.

Kate followed Scamp everywhere. We knew that the bond between them was set for life when we looked out in the backyard one day and saw Scamp and Kate sitting together beneath a tall palm. High up in the branches was another cat they'd treed.

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