Sunday, January 25, 2009
This is Gregory Pike and his dog, cat and rat. He walks around San Francisco every day, talking to people and allowing them to take pictures.
He and his pets live on donations, which are badly needed for food and accommodations.
The animals seem quite happy with their travel arrangements. Even when the dog lies down, the cat and rat hold their positions on her back.
Mr. Pike set out to prove that our differences don't have to divide us.
"Why can't we all get along?" he says.
The dog's name is Booger, the cat's is Kitty, and the rat is called Mousy.
"He's really a rat, isn't he?" I asked.
"Yes, but 'Ratty' doesn't sound so good," he said.
There are actually three rats, all male. The dog and cat are both girls.
The animals are not tranquilized in any way. As we sat talking outside a coffee shop today, Booger barked a warning at a couple of other dogs who came too close.
Mr. Pike shushed her and explained that this was a new behavior since a Pit Bull recently attacked Kitty. Booger went for the dog's snout, although she was several times smaller than the attacker, and held on until they were separated. She then lay down next to the scared cat and licked her repeatedly until Kitty was calm enough to jump on her back again.
These unusual friends remind me of the old Grimm's folk tale, The Musicians of Bremen, in which a dog, cat, donkey and rooster, all past their prime and usefulness and in danger of being slaughtered by their owners, set out together for Bremen, a city known for its freedom. They decide to become musicians and take care of themselves.
On the way to Bremen, the four friends see a lighted cottage with a band of robbers enjoying their stolen goods inside. The hungry animals decide to scare the men away while there is still food on the table.
The donkey stands with his hooves on the windowsill, the dog jumps on his back, the cat balances on top of the dog while the rooster perches on the cat's head.
When they are all arranged, they begin to perform their music: the donkey brays, the dog barks, the cat mews and the rooster crows loudly.
The robbers are convinced that demons are attacking them and run for their lives into the woods, whereupon the animals go inside, eat a good meal, and settle in for the night.
Hours later the robbers return and one of them enters the house to investigate. He sees the cat's eyes shining in the dark, thinks they are coals from the fire and reaches over to light his candle. The cat hisses and swipes his face with her claws, the donkey kicks him, the dog bites his leg and the rooster chases him out the door, screeching.
The robber tells his companions that he was attacked by a horrible witch who scratched him with her long fingernails, a man with a knife stabbed him and a monster clubbed him while the devil screamed from the rooftop.
The robbers abandon the cottage and run away as far and as fast as they can, and the animals live there happily for the rest of their days.
There are several You Tube videos of Gregory Pike and his little band of animals, (posted as dog, cat, rat) who are in dire need of donations. If anybody is so inclined, please email me for his address. Thank you!