Like a scene from the Pink Panther

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Remember Cato from the Pink Panther movies?

Or, better asked, how could you ever forget Cato, played by Burt Kwouk, and how he would spring from closets, behind doors, through windows and even from inside refrigerators to attack Inspector Clouseau played by Peter Sellers. Once you had seen one Pink Panther movie, you just knew Clouseau’s devoted sidekick would exercise that element of surprise leading up to a comical scene of grunting and growling as they chased each other around leaving a trail of destruction.

I was reminded of Cato Friday evening when arriving home.

The scene was I had expected as I had called Carol only minutes earlier. We planned to go out for dinner, so she was upstairs getting ready. The mail was on the kitchen table, so I poked through the pile of catalogs and other solicitations while munching on a few corn chips from a half-filled bag that had been held closed by a clothespin.

“I’ll be down in a minute,” I heard from upstairs.

“No rush,” I responded, going back for another chip.

Then Cato – well, actually it was Ollie – exploded into the room, his nails scraping on the tile floor and ears flying. He plowed into me and just as quickly turned tail, thundering back upstairs.

I suspected what might come next after such an enthusiastic greeting. I wasn’t disappointed. It only took him seconds to find what he wanted. He was back, now growling and shaking his red, green and black pullie. He pushed it forward vigorously, knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist. I didn’t.

Grabbing an end of the knotted rope, I yanked him forward. His feet skidded on the tile and I swung him around until his feet left the floor. This can be dangerous. I knew if he lost his grip, he’d go flying and who knows what destruction might result. But he held on, teeth clenched and eyes wide. With his feet firmly planted again he tugged, grunting and growling, as I held firm.

Cato was holding his ground. I wasn’t going to let go either.

You might say it is a reflection of today’s political environment. Two sides locked in a growling match with no progress to show for it. Only this contest was fun.

Ollie launched the “surprise attack”; now it was up to me to come up with an unexpected parry. He’s all too familiar with an exaggerated growl on my part. He’s not fooled by bravado.

Does that sound familiar? I tried it nonetheless. It simply reinforced his determination. He escalated his growling and stepped up his pulling.

I tried the “sweet routine.” I toned everything down, easing my grip, but not giving in.

“Ollie is such a good dog,” I declared. I could see he was perplexed by the abrupt shift in tactics, but he’s too smart to be fooled.

Ok, I thought, I’ll show a complete lack of interest. I let go of my end of the pullie. He took it as a win, prancing into the dining room, tossing the now slimy piece of rope like a rag doll. His victory was short-lived, however, when I uttered a challenging growl. He was back, ready for another round.

“Are you ready?” Carol asked, appearing from upstairs.

Ollie seemed to know what that meant. He suddenly was deflated, dropping the pullie, watching us both. Would we be leaving him? The answer was, yes.

We made a pact not to talk politics and headed out the door not knowing for sure where we would end up. The wait seemed endless at our first two choices, so we headed home after stopping at Dave’s Marketplace.

I entered the house wondering – actually, hopeful – that Cato might be lurking, ready to pounce.

But no, Ollie is smarter than many; he knows when to take a break.

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