In the spring of 2005, my sisters presented me with an angry little ball of fluff which I lovingly christened Dagobaz, named after a battle victorious war-horse in an M.M.Kaye novel. Dagobaz means trickster and the name was aptly picked for though he looked fluffy and dignified in his tuxedo of black & white fur, he was in fact, ornery as hell. Nearly every house visitor was scratched by him at least once and his love was closely guarded & doled out sparingly to only a select few; and luckily I was one of those people-most of the time.
He grudgingly moved from Washington to Los Angeles with me, where his beloved green yard was replaced with a stuffy and sweltering Hollywood apartment. No longer did he have the freedom to roam the outside world at his leisure and in my guilt of cloistering his wild animal nature, a cat leash was bought. To say that was an epic failure of an idea would be a gross understatement. My arms bore testament to his feelings about being leash bound and he escaped from its coils almost as soon as I had heroically wrestled him into it. But then we moved again and Aubrey & Zelda joined us in a bigger, less stifling place so he once again had room to roam about…at least a little. Our plantain covered balcony became he & Zelda’s lair where they would lay, catatonically on the stucco wall and soak up the endless LA summer days.
Then Edgar came and the two of them eyed each other warily and when it was clear that neither of them planned on leaving, a mostly peaceful and, at times, amicable bond developed. They tolerated each other, simply put, though I suspect that a thread of love may have developed over the years or at least a sense of muted affection.
To soon it seems, we were headed North again, leaving Aubrey & Zelda behind-a crime which Zelda has never forgiven any of us for. We were back in the land of green fields & evergreens and perhaps inspired by this change of scenery, Dagobaz took up midlife hunting, bringing in an array of both deceased and very much alive animals. From roof rats to moles and even a baby opossum, it seemed that no prey was immune to his claws including us, his human family. Once London arrived and then Huck, this became a bit of a worry as we never knew when his ornery nature would emerge and possibly scar one of them for life. In truth, he did scratch them both at least once though he quickly learned the error of his ways as Edgar put the Fear upon him & locked him out of the house for a day or two.
The boys too, learned to love or at least appreciate his cantankerous self. Huck especially sought out his love no matter how many hisses Dago sent his way. Never a cuddly animal; I could probably count on my hands the number of times I heard him purr, he became our token guard dog-chasing away actual dogs from in front of our gate and joining us on evening walks around the neighborhood. He would lead the way up & down the block, dodging in and out of bushes, proudly & stealthily showing us the way.
For 13 years, Dago sauntered by my side doling out his aloof but hard-earned love when I needed it and scratching me just enough to keep me on my toes. He was wild & dapper, as regal as a cat could be and my world won’t be quite the same without him. He saw me at my worst and at my very best and through it all, he remained lovingly impassive. He never demanded much from me, aside from the requisite food & water and I appreciated his fierce independence all the more as my life became busier & busier. Yet he always remained my loyal companion, feisty & ornery till the end, and I will always love him for it.