The Cat woke up in her tree and took a long stretch before looking around. The sun rose over there and that was right. Birds, delicious birds, flew over there, and that was right. The Dog was sniffing under her tree, and that was wrong.
She sat on her branch and cleaned first her paws and then used her paws to clean her face. She looked again. Yes, he was still there, snuffling and whuffling like a dog-shaped vacuum cleaner. She shuddered to think of it. And so she washed some more.
Finally, the Dog did not seem to be going away so she jumped down to a lower branch and inquired politely, “What are you doing?” She didn’t expect any sort of sensible cat-type answer but some kind of doggy nonsense.
The Dog looked around to see who had spoken but didn’t see anyone so went back to his snuffles and whuffles.
The Cat snickered on her perch. One of the most delicious things about dogs was most of them never learned to look up. “Up here,” she said, smiling with a purr. “I’m talking to you.”
The Dog sat down and looked up. “A cat!” he said. “You’re a cat!”
“Yes,” said the Cat. “And I was asking–”
“A cat!” exclaimed the dog. He stood up. “You’re a cat!”
“Yes, said the Cat. “I–”
“A cat!” shouted the dog. “You’re a cat up inna tree!” He ran in circles, excited by this discovery apparently.
“Yes,” said the Cat. She twitched her tail and reminded herself to be patient.
After a while, the Dog calmed down and said, “Hello, cat-up-inna-tree.” He smiled with a wag.
“Yes, said the Cat. Contrary animals, dogs are, she thought. “What are you doing so industriously whuffling and snuffling under my tree?”
“Your tree?” said the dog. “Did you mark it as yours? I didn’t smell any marks with your name on it.”
“Um,” admitted the Cat. “I’ll take care of that later, after you leave but yes this is my tree.”
“Okay,” said the Dog, “but you really ought to mark things that are yours so that, you know, other people can tell.”
“Yes,” said the Cat.
The Dog stood up, wagging his tail like a small dog-shaped reciprocating fan. “I can show you how to do it and we can go around the neighborhood and mark things as ours!”
“Uh, no,” said the Cat. “I just want to know what you’re doing sniffing around my tree so busily this morning.”
“Oh,” said the Dog, sitting down again so he could more easily look up. “It’s a long story.”
The Cat yawned. “Well, in that case–”
“I could tell you all about it,” said the Dog.
“Don’t bother,” said the Cat, tail twitching. “I’m curious but not that curious.”
“Last night,” said the Dog, “we had a party at our place.”
“Mm,” said the Cat, not hiding a yawn. The Dog lived in the house on the front end of the Cat’s property where a fence marked off the Dog’s territory and kept little people from falling into the swimming pool.
“A barbeque party, out by the pool, with a fire and meat burning and all kinds of wonderful things to eat,” said the Dog.
“Uh, huh,” said the Cat. She had attended a few such parties. Not too bad as long as you didn’t get your tail stepped on. “I was invited but I didn’t go.”
The Dog looked up, wagging his tail. “Next time, I’ll be sure not to invite you so I’ll know that you’ll be there.”
“Huh?” said the Cat. Was the Dog making a joke? Dogs are always funny, the Cat knew, but they don’t know how to tell a joke.
“Anyway,” said the Dog. “My master lost a contact lens at the party last night. I’m hunting it for him.” He got back to the business of sniffing every inch of the ground under the tree.
The Cat knew the Dog’s master, he was one of her slaves and sometimes left exceedingly tasty morsels for her on a shelf high enough that the Dog could not reach it. She looked at the house, at least three leaps, a bound and a scuttle away beyond the rosebush.
“Where did he lose this contact lens? Up by the house, near the pool?” asked the Cat.
“Yes,” said the Dog. “That wasn’t that long of a story after all, was it?” He wagged his tail like a dog-shaped Buddha if Buddha had a tail.
“Not nearly long enough,” said the Cat. “If your master lost his lens up there by the house, why are you hunting for it under my tree?”
The Dog sat down so he could look up again without straining his neck. “It’s clear that you’ve never tried to hunt for anything.”
The Cat twitched her tail. “I hunt birds. I’ve even made your master a present of a few I’ve caught.”
“Birds,” sniffed the Dog. “You wait till someone shoots one and then you go get it.”
“That’s not how I do it,” said the Cat.
“Well, I’m hunting a contact lens and no one is going to shoot one of them for me,” said the Dog.
The Cat paused to clean herself and so she would not spit angrily at the Dog. Finally, she asked. “So, if your master lost something down by the pool, why are you hunting for it up here under my tree?”
“Cats,” sniffed the Dog. “I’m hunting up here because you can’t smell anything next to a swimming pool except chlorine!”
Did I mention that the Dog was shaggy?