LUCKY GARVIN: The Death of The Sheriff

Lucky Garvin

Sometimes I feel like I’m Commander-in-Chief of Camp Krazy.

I arrive at work; 7 AM. Maybe a half hour later, I get a call from Sabrina. She’s out of breath. “Gahv! Gahv! Have we ever had some excitement around here this morning! A dog fight!”

But, wait a minute. Let me not get the plow in front of the horse. The story will mean nothing unless I tell you about one of our cats, Ozmitron [or ‘Oz.’]

Oz is colored orange and white, a cat of typical size with a most unusual coat. It’s not fur; it’s hair; long hair. Were you able to attach a handle to him, Oz would make the perfect dust-mop. This is the same mane he brings to Sabrina each morning for a brushing. It is this brushing which has created a most unusual depth of connectedness between he and she; a connectedness we had not fully appreciated.

Another thing Oz does, the significance of which we did not detect: he likes to spend most of his day on the stairs which lead from the kitchen to the cellar. If Sabrina or I use those stairs, we have to go around him; in fact, even our Dobermans step over him. Oz does not move. We missed that significance, until, that is, the morning of the dogfight.

Owning a few dogs, Sabrina and I are used to little scraps – a snap, a growl, and it’s over.

As Sabrina continued to explain, this morning’s aggression was serious; one or both of the contenders was going to get badly hurt. So, picture this: two large dogs going at each other with homicidal intent, the rest of the pack in full throat, this close to jumping in; my Sabrina pulling at two collars to break up the chaos, while pushing would-be participants out of the way.

Then, over all the fray, Sabrina hears, “Budda, budda, budda,” – a running across the floor?- and out of nowhere, something orange and white flashes past her vision, and lands on the dogs! Screaming, biting, and clawing maniacally on their backs… It was Oz, who’d busted through the stair cat-door in a rage, coming to help his momma!

Then, not wishing to be Dobie-Brunch, Oz leaped mightily away, running in mid-air. He hit the hardwood floor and discovered something: be it hasty, strategic, or otherwise, any retreat ultimately hinges on traction. And he had landed on a hardwood floor. He kept running, but now his speed equaled five ‘budda’s’ for every inch of linear progress. By the time he hit carpet, Oz was already in ‘passing gear’ and disappeared as if into another dimension.

But, the dogfight was still on. Oz did a U-turn and jumped back into the fray hissing, spitting, clawing, and biting, only to flee once again. But still the fight continued. As crazy as it sounds, over the barking, for the third time, Oz was in the middle of the melee like a lioness attacking jackals! He was giving those two dogs the business end of a hissy-fit.

Then the fight broke up, the dogs were kenneled, and Oz retired to the stairs uninjured, licking his coat calmly. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Osmitron The Avenger!

Although out-weighed and out-dogged, he was not out-Oz’ed, thus, he had the advantage.  I suspect Oz is going to ‘live large’ for the next few months, thanks to his momma’s gratitude. Sabrina, no doubt, would have prevailed over the dogs, but it never hurts to have a little orange and white back-up.

Oz still maintains his redoubt on the cellar stairs; we and the Dobies must still make our way around or over him. The Dobies walk quietly now. There is a law-enforcement presence in our home. To the Dobies, Oz seems to warn: check your guns at the saloon, boys, no fighting in my jurisdiction.

There’s a new sheriff in town…

Sheriff Dustmop.

I wrote those words in 2012. Today we laid his sweet, valorous soul to rest. He had contracted a form of diabetes that took his health like fire takes dry grass.

Oz came to prefer a life of solitary haunts; some cats are just that way. You might pass him in the hallway; he would sit down, look up at you, permit his ears to be scratched before continuing on his way. The nature of his business was never clear; his devotion to it never in doubt. He came to love our well-lit cellar. Whenever we came in from the garage, there he would sit ‘guarding the rear gate of the castle.’ A little bit of head-loving, and off he would go.

There are two conflicting emotions which play tug of war in the heart of any animal lover whose pet confronts long odds on recovery: “I know you need to go” and, “I don’t want to be without you.” Following the urging of Mercy, we took him to the vet. Several hours ago, we hung up the sheriff’s little spurs; and as for his star? Oz will no longer need one, for today he became one…