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The Master of Bark

by Beverley, Napier, New Zealand


The Alsatian next door guarded his pitch with military-type enthusiasm. The sound of a mouse breathing on a nearby leaf sent him into paroxysms of hysterical yelling. At nights we were woken by his bursts of venom at passing cars, people walking by and anything else that moved The owners of the Master of Bark seemed to suffer from a peculiar form of deafness and slept through the rumpus. Ollie sometimes watched the dog from the top of a tree on our mutual boundaries. The cat hated any creature having sole ownership of what should rightfully be his own domain

One night the noise was worse than usual. The Master of Bark was going to town in a big way. The barking was punctuated by crashing noises against the tin fence under our bedroom window. There were other strange noises too - clatterings and thuddings and peculiar squeekings. I went out to look. There, on the eave of the house in the light of the moon, sat Ollie. Right below him by the tin fence on the neighbours' side was the Master of Bark.

Ollie always adores the centre stage and even with an audience of only two thought it worthwhile to launch himself into another performance. He galloped to the top of the roof and slid down on his bottom with claws extended - the strange squeeking noise mystery was solved. Naturally the Master of Bark thought all his birthdays had arrived and the cat was going to drop from the eave of the roof right into his mouth. But Ollie was able to stop on a cent piece on the very verge of falling off the roof. The MOB almost turned himself inside out with frustration and rage. He raced to the tin fence and crashed into it trying to climb up to Ollie, who was smirking. The performance continued - the cat pirouetted and pranced, chased his own tail and raced from one side of the roof to the other. I finally managed to talk Ollie down but it wasn't easy - I was also apprehensive - the dog wouldn't forget the 'baiting'. The day could come when the neighbour left the gate open and the MOB would be in to deal with the impudent cat.

Retaliation was swift. A few weeks later the MOB escaped and being unable to find the cat who was asleep in the house on John's bed, threw down the gauntlet. He left a gigantic doggy poo next to Ollie's water dish on the back porch. I could see by the look on Ollie's face that the MOB was asking for trouble. Later that day I was gardening and heard a frightful crashing and yelping noise from the bottom of the neighbours' tin fence. There was a space beneath the fence and through that space Ollie was inserting his paw and giving the bird to the dog.

But it had to happen. The dog managed to get out one day and found Ollie sitting under the Jacaranda tree on the front verge. I was too far away to do a thing. The MOB let out a shriek of delight that said 'I'm going to murder that cat'. I must say that Ollie's performance was a true work of art. He allowed the MOB to get within tooth-touching distance of his tail before strolling up the Jacaranda to perch on a handy branch. I thought the dog was going to do himself a damage. He was practically sobbing with fury and frustration. Then Ollie added the final humiliation. He eyed the dog and yawned insultingly. If the owner of the dog hadn't come out to nab him I think the animal would have had a heart attack.

A week later the neighbour called to see if we had heard any noises the night before. It seemed their car had been pinched from the driveway right under the nose of the sleeping MOB.

Shortly thereafter we noticed that the noise had stopped. It was heaven - uninterrupted sleep and peaceful days. We never did find out what happened to the MOB. The neighbours believe in keeping themselves to themselves and don't socialise. Had the MOB had a fit of apoplexy and died on the spot. Had he bit the owners or nipped the grandchildren. Had the neighbours all been to the doctor and had their ears syringed out. Had the dog's failure as a guard dog had something to do with it.

A day of so later I glanced over the fence at the peaceful garden. Ollie was sitting in the middle of the neighbours' lawn. Then I realised - a new regime had taken over. The Master of Bark had gone - all hail to 'The Master of Meow.'


Editor's note:

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