My Dog Has a Nemesis, the Black Cat Next Door


Riggins has always felt that cats, in general, are his nemeses. Now he has a specific one to focus on next door: Black Cat.

A few months ago, Riggins and I moved to the apartment at a friend’s house. For the first time in Riggins’ life, he has a door that opens up into a backyard. That means all of his “favorite” critters are easily accessible!

Riggins hanging in his backyard. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Riggins hanging in his new backyard. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins is a hunter, and I’m okay with that. I’ve seen a rat hanging out in the backyard who I wouldn’t mind him taking down! At 11 years old, Riggins isn’t as fast as he used to be, so squirrels, possums, and other urban wildlife are safe from becoming his snack.

That doesn’t mean, though, that his friends and he won’t let those critters know that the backyard is dog country. One of my landlady’s dogs, Fredo, is an older Chihuahua. Riggins and Fredo are a great alert team. If a critter gets near the perimeter, Riggins will bark and Fredo’s smaller voice will echo. It’s like a land-based game of Marco Polo. Riggins: MARCO. Fredo: POLO. It doesn’t matter where Fredo is, he will answer Riggins’ call — sometimes I even hear Fredo respond from inside the house.

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Fredo helps patrol the backyard. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I can tell you the exact moment Riggins first realized how easy it was for him to head outside and into the wilds of the backyard. I was watching TV, with Riggins on one side of me and another of my landlady’s dogs, Louie, on the other. Louie is a mini-Riggins and looks up to him as a big brother. If Riggins is going to do something, Louie is going to be right behind him.

I had left a side floor-to-ceiling window open to let in air. A critter made a noise in the corner of the yard, and like a flash of lightning, Riggins was off the sofa and running toward the offending sound. The screen covering the opening to the outside did nothing to stop the bullet that was Riggins, with his faithful sidekick Louie right on his heels. As they ran through it, the screen got pushed out and toppled over the dogs, hitting the wind chimes above before clacking down to the ground. Add a round of intense barking to the racket, and it was an announcement to our new neighbors that we were here!

Riggins and his mini-me Louie. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Riggins and his mini-me Louie. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Back to Black Cat. I don’t actually know the kitty’s name, but she is black so therefore the name Black Cat fits. Once Riggins saw our new neighbor, it became his new goal in life to get that cat! Black Cat normally sits in front of her house, either on the porch or in a chair. She doesn’t seem to care one bit that Riggins wants to eat her. In fact, when he lunges for her as we walk past, Black Cat just looks at him with the disdain that only a lounging cat can give. Every time we cruise by, I tell Riggins, “You leave Black Cat alone!” It’s an empty gesture on my part. I know if Riggins has a chance, he is going after that fluffball.

Once, just once, I dropped Riggins’ leash as I was getting out of the car and told him to go to the front door by himself. He got about halfway and then stopped dead in his tracks. His ears turned a bit to the right, and then his head followed. A half-second later, he was under the hedge separating the house we live in from our neighbor’s. Apparently, Black Cat had been sitting in there — watching. It took all of my strength to pull Riggins out of that bush. Our walk to the door, with his leash securely in my hand, included me scolding and picking leaves out of his coat.

Black Cat guarding her house. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Black Cat guarding her house. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Here what I know that Riggins isn’t fully aware of — the cat will win. Riggins acts all tough, but my money is always on the cat, and Black Cat seems like she could take him down without even fully waking up from her nap! She’s always napping. That and mocking Riggins seem to be her favorite activities.

Riggins has been one-on-one with a cat before, and it didn’t end well for him. My sister’s kitties tend to disappear when we go visit, but once in awhile Riggins figures out where they are hiding. During one visit, he sauntered behind the hot tub. Seconds later, I heard screeching followed by a whimper. Riggins came sulking back to me with cat nails still embedded in his cheek. “That’s what happens when you mess with a cat,” I told him. Obviously he has forgotten that lesson.

Backyard patrol agents, Riggins, Louie and Fredo. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Backyard patrol agents, Riggins, Louie and Fredo. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins and his buddies Louie and Fredo do a good job of patrolling the backyard. I don’t think Black Cat would be silly enough to try and come into their territory. That doesn’t mean it isn’t beneath her to sit just on the other side of the fence and glare at them. She isn’t going to let the new neighbor dog get the better of her — that’s for sure. This is Black Cat’s block, and the sooner Riggins figures that out, the better.

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