Today I decided to take Hetty to the RSPCA kennels she came from. I told myself this was to show her off and let them see how well she was doing. Of course, I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to check out O'Neil, the rough-coated lurcher who had caught my eye. I pulled into the car park and immediately spotted Gladys, the canine match-maker who found me Hetty. Gladys is an absolute diamond. I remember the day she came to do my 'quick home-check', she ended up staying 3 hours. She can certainly talk. Gladys still pops in for a cup of tea every now and then, and she always brings Hetty a treat: a silk collar, a bowl of chicken and rice, a squeaky toy. Like I say, Gladys is a star. She devotes her life to looking after animals. She has a particular love for elegant and graceful sighthounds: lurchers, whippets and greyhounds.
'Ooooooh! It's Miss Underscore and Hetty!' she squealed when she saw us. 'I was just talking about you both!' (Hetty and I have become something of a RSPCA case-study, proof that lurchers and cats can live together harmoniously).
I asked about O'Neill.
"Oh, Miss Underscore, he is gorgeous! You wouldn't believe the amount of interest in him. There are 5 people who want him already, and he has only just been put on the website. But, you know what, if you want him I'd give him to you. I'd trust you to look after him and love him.'
We went to see the handsome creature. He was beautiful. But, he was also rather boisterous and lively. As much as I loved him I just couldn't imagine him fitting in with placid, gentle Hetty, and deaf OAP Dalmatian Kipper. He also had a certain glint in his eye, something told me he'd be a committed and enthusiastic cat-chaser.
I turned him down. But, I did make a decision. I have decided to foster a RSPCA lurcher over the rest of the summer holidays. As usual, the kennels had lots of lovely lurchers in. I was quite taken with number 58, a cashmere-soft, black and white youngster. She only had half a tail, and seemed very gentle and friendly. I'll call back this week to take a closer look and let her meet Hetty.
Now, on to Atticus. I got home from the kennels to an invitation to go out for drinks tonight. Christ. He is a fast mover. I turned him down, explaining I was planning on staying home, drinking tea and watching 'Man on Wire' on BBC2.
'Maybe we could watch it together, after a walk on the beach?' he replied.
I know it seems ironic for me to say this, as he first contacted me 2 years ago, but he is rushing things and that is freaking me out. I am sure I will meet him, but I need to ease myself into it gently. I estimate I need at least 2 weeks for fretting, another 2 for agonising and maybe 7 days of good old-fashioned worrying. So. . . . mid-September sounds good to me. . . .
You know, maybe I should have a word with Gladys, the canny, canine match-maker. Maybe she could use her skills to find me a two-legged mate. Or at the very list, put Atticus through one of her 'quick home-checks'.