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Four-Legged Codependents

Moxie the cat sat in the corner of the kitchen cleaning herself with her paws. She kept a keen eye out for any signs of human activity as she worked; this was after all the place where she received food. It had been quiet all afternoon, and Moxie had just gotten up from her afternoon nap. She was hungry. Suddenly she heard the loud annoying footfalls of her large canine housemate of unspecified breed, Murphy, who bounded into the room with that silly grin on his face and his nose up sniffing for food, his claws noisily scraping against the floor.

"Hiya Moxie," said Murphy, pushing his big snout in Moxie's face.

Moxie quickly jumped out of the way of the giant dog nose. "Personal space, dog," she said, annoyed. Then she stared at him using her angriest look and continued licking herself. Deliberately ignoring the loud beast was one of her favorite games. Murphy hated to be ignored.

"Anybody around, Mox? I'm hungry!"

"So what else is new? You're always hungry." She eyed him briefly, then ignored him again.

"So? What's wrong with that?"

Moxie lifted her face up to look directly at the dog. "So? You don't have to be so obvious about it. Nobody likes a beggar."

Murphy cocked his head to one side. "But I usually get stuff when I beg," he offered.

She looked at him and frowned. "You're such a... DOG!" 

"What?" replied Murphy innocently.

"What?" Moxie repeated, mocking him.

Murphy ignored her attempted insult and began sniffing the floor in the kitchen. Maybe he would get lucky and find a few crumbs. The boys were always leaving bits of food around for him to find.

"That's right dog, eat the trash off the floor. Who cares where it's been, just eat it right-off-the-floor." Moxie shook her head in disgust.  "Man's best friend my ass!" she said to herself.

Murphy was ignoring the cat's insults. He was too busy foraging for something, anything to eat. His belly was grumbling; he needed a snack.
"Ohhh, I'm hungry!!" he whined.

Moxie looked up from her cleaning ritual. "Will you get a grip dog?" she sneered.

Suddenly the sounds of children playing in the next yard filtered into the quiet house. "Ooh, somebody to play with!!" barked Murphy gleefully. He bounded off to the sliding doors that led from the adjacent family room to the back yard of the house and started to whine.

Moxie looked over at him and shook her head slowly. "You have no shame," she said, then padded over to stand next to the door. She glanced around impatiently. "Well?" she meowed to nobody in particular, "We're going outside now." She turned around, then turned around again. "Let's go-ooo!"

Murphy whined a little louder then scratched at the glass door. Scratching at the door ALWAYS got somebody's attention.

As if on cue, the woman strode into the room looking somewhat annoyed. "BLAH BLAH BLAH Murphy! BLAH BLAH BLAH out?"

Murphy whined and lifted his head up, his eyes pleading. Moxie shook her in head in disgust. "I swear dog, you're like a damned puppy!" Moxie circled the woman, making sure to rub her fur against her. "Meoww," she said to the woman.

The woman opened the door and Moxie primly filed out. Murphy hung back, his eyes pleading with the woman. "BLAH BLAH Murphy? BLAH OUT?" she said.

Moxie stopped just outside the open door and looked back at the dog, who appeared to be waiting for permission to go out. "Well, what are you waiting for?" she said impatiently. "I got her to open the door for you, let's go."

The woman waved her arm toward the door, trying to get Murphy to move in that direction. This was the signal Murphy was waiting for, and he happily bounded out past the cat, who was now sitting on the steps leading from the sliding glass doors.

"Why do insist on making that awful show every time?"

"I dunno, I just do."

"Well, I don't like it," the cat said curtly.

"Ooh!" exclaimed Murphy, who ran off to follow a fresh interesting smell.

A sudden scent caught Moxie's own delicate nose and she lost interest in her canine companion, who was already sniffing around somewhere else in the yard. Moxie crept toward a nearby clump of bushes and put her senses to work. Some prey perhaps? She would find out.


It was getting late and the back yard was covered by darkness. Moxie was cleaning herself in the kitchen, keeping careful watch on the woman who was moving about, carrying this object and that, putting things away noisily. Murphy lay on the floor nearby, his snout flat on the ground and his eyes, watching the woman.

"You look pathetic, dog," meowed Moxie.

"Somebody always pets me when I do this," said Murphy, not moving.

"Please. You actually LIKE it when they touch you?"

"Sure, it feels good. Don't you like it when the humans pet you?" Murphy got up to stretch his legs, then lay back down again in the same position as before.

Moxie feigned a shudder. "Ugh, no  I do not."

Murphy giggled. "Yes you do, you tilt your head up and close your eyes when the woman pets your head."

"Hmmph, you are sadly mistaken, dog," sniffed Moxie. "I most certainly do NOT do anything as crude as that."

The woman had stopped clanging and banging in the kitchen and stared down at Murphy. "BLAH BLAH BLAH Murphy BLAH out?" she said.

Murphy instantly got to his feet and grinned.

"Oh here we go," said Moxie rolling her eyes.

Murphy was doing his little half-jump, and the woman laughed and pet him. It felt good. Then she walked to the sliding doors and opened them. Moxie jumped to the floor and sped to the door, getting there before Murphy.

"Come on you dumb dog," she said.

Murphy whined and hung back. The woman put her hands on her hips. "BLAH BLAH Murphy, BLAH BLAH OUT!" She waved her arm toward the open door. Moxie waiting at the opening.

"BLAH BLAH OUT!" said the woman.

Murphy yipped happily, then ran outside past Moxie, who ducked her head to avoid being clipped by the passing canine. "Watch the fur!" she meowed angrily.

Murphy ran out into the dark yard and did his business, leaving Moxie to sit quietly on the step and clean herself. After a few minutes, the dog returned and sniffed Moxie. The cat was looking expectantly into the darkness and so ignored him.

Murphy took a step back and cocked his head. He frowned. Moxie glanced at him. "What?" she asked in her best uncaring voice.

"You're not going out NOW, are you?" asked the dog.

"So what if I am?"

"So... it's kinda late. You should come inside."

"Mind your own business, dog." Moxie looked out toward the black of the night. From the next yard came a faint meow. Her ears twitched at the sound.

Murphy cocked his head again, then understanding finally came to him. "Oh Moxie," he said sadly.

Moxie looked the other way. "I'm such a slut," she thought, and she ran off into the night.

Murphy shook his head. "Oh Moxie," he said softly, then he turned toward the door and began scratching on it. Soon the woman came and let him in.

The next morning when the woman let Murphy out, Moxie had returned as she always did, and ran into the house. Her fur was wet and matted in some places, she walked shakily and she looked tired.

Murphy went outside, performing his reluctant routine as always, and was back at the door scratching withing minutes. Moxie was in the family room, licking herself in the corner. Murphy walked over to the cat and rubbed his nose on her face. "Poor Moxie," he said quietly, and began licking her matted fur.

Moxie closed her eyes and rubbed her face against the big dog's warm body. It felt good.


2009 Michael S. Cohen

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