John Walker's Electronic House


by on Aug.08, 2007, under The Rest

One of Dexter’s most delightful and infuriating habits is to follow us when we leave the house. While completely independent, and capable of taking care of his own matters outside for hours at a time, he’s also always up for coming on any journey, no matter how inconvenient.

A number of buses have been missed after reaching the end of the road and hearing the jingling of his useless bell. Turning around I’ll see him gambolling along as fast as he can, crying, “I’m coming! Don’t worry!” He’ll not turn back no matter how far you go, so the only choice is to turn around and walk back home, and shut him inside. By which point the bus is a speck on the horizon.

Shorter journeys on foot, such as to the off license near the bus stop, don’t seem worth the hassle. If you’re lucky a scary man will walk near him and he’ll run off, but if not he’ll come all the way, and then trot into the shop with you. Interestingly, people in shops don’t seem to object to a feline customer as they might a canine. The novelty seems to win them over, and Dexter’s meowing complaints at being held, and at his not being allowed to roam free behind the counter to sniff out the finer booze, are interpreted as sweetness.

He is now a recognised patron of the newsagents on our road. Since the monsoons ended, Dex now follows me every time I go there, politely lying down outside the shop door while I buy things. Until he gets bored, starts crying, and then sneaks in and tries to explore. Unlike frantically losing him to catch buses, this is fantastic. The looks you get from passers-by as you walk out the shop, say, “Come on Dex!”, and then have your cat trot behind you as you walk home, are fantastic.

Now, it’s important to note that Dex isn’t like some faithful dog, staying to heel. He’s far too cool for that. It’s essential that he be either a long way behind sniffing something in an independent fashion, or far ahead after scampering to catch up and then lead the way. Should he lose sight of me, he immediately starts whining, but that in no way implies that he needs me at all, no sirree, not one bit.

I’ve taken this to the next step, deliberately taking Dex out for walks now. He’s obviously limited by the reaches of his territory when going on his own expeditions, but with me he can brave farther lands. Today we went for an explore down the road in the opposite direction we’d normally walk, and found some woods to explore. This was excellent, as Dex was immediately able to use all his jungle instincts, and stalk a bush until it was out of breath, then viciously attack it. I climbed a couple of trees while he rushed around chasing bugs and sniffing many new smells. Then he wanted to explore further, and made the rather terrifying discovery of an abandoned chainsaw. I might pop back and recover that later, lest some other small creatures with opposable thumbs stumble upon it.

Being too scared (not that he’d admit it) to be left on his own, getting home again is simple – I only need walk back to the road, and he’ll chicken out and sprint to catch up with me. But I often find myself in the position of a mum with a toddler, having to pretend “I’m going home now and you can stay here forever”, and walking off. Eventually he’ll let out a mighty “MEOW!” then appear around a wall and bound toward me.

Today he also tried to punch a greyhound in the face.

EDIT: Chainsaw recovered, with Dexter getting a second, and much more ethusiastic runaround.

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