Friday, May 20, 2011

Who Murdered Marmalade?


Elbow called me Monday and told me Marmalade was missing. Elbow, whatever else she may be, isn’t the hysterical type, okay, she is at that but she is quite in tune with her cats. Marmalade is my favorite cat of hers; an orange and white tabby who is as affectionate as she is large. Elbow’s two sons have friends who have nicknamed Marmalade “Meatball” because of her girth, but Elbow is worried. She last saw Marmalade Sunday night, under the back porch and Marmalade looked a little distressed. All the dogs went in with Elbow, and she assumed Marmalade would make her way in via the cat door or an open window.
Elbow’s hired hand found the body under the house this morning, and Elbow called me.

There could not be two diametrically different views on raising dogs than the two Elbow and I have. I am the Alpha dog. I am the one person in the house who will end a fight. I see the dogs as members of my family, to be sure, but there will be a certain sense of order. When I yell I expect everything to come to a halt, and now dammit. Elbow sees her dogs as extensions as who she is and she will discuss things with dogs I will not. I have never beat a dog in my life, but there are times a dogs has to know without any question there are very serious consequences to action. Elbow is prone to letting the dogs settle things and I do see the merit in this, but I also won’t have the better part of three hundred pounds of tame wolf making decisions if I can get away from it. Elbow and I do have this in common; we both own damaged dogs.
Her train wreck of a mutt is Frank, the neurotic Border Collie who is prone to herding anything and everything. Frank has killed chickens before. He is also affected by Izzy, the Jack Russell and Meth Lab mix who has been known to torment cats. Elbow thinks that Izzy was pestering Marmalade and Frank somehow became involved. Poor Marmalade was mortally wounded, and had barely enough strength to climb through the hole in the wall and die under the house. My train wreck of a mutt is Sam. This is a dog who has torpedoed his way across the yard and slammed into a full grown raccoon, shaken it hard for five seconds, dropped it, and walked away without a mark on him. Elbow says this is how Frank kills, and she says that Marmalade’s neck was broken.
What she has to do now is exile Izzy. He is too excitable around livestock and small animals. He does not belong around horses. A friend really likes him and wants him, and will give Izzy a good home. Elbow finally says what needs to be said of Frank. He is to be executed. Killing Marmalade is unforgiveable. They have been living together for a decades and if will turn on her like this, what of the new grandchild? I am forced to agree there is risk here. Frank is becoming unstable and unpredictable. He is eleven years old and in bad health to boot. I argue hard, as hard as logic allows, but the evidence against him is damning. I must admit execution eliminates doubt. If Frank will kill a member of the family in fur then no one is safe.
I ask to see the scene of the crime. Under the stairs from which the attack was made shows no signs of a struggle. It’s been four days, but there ought to be something there. I go under the house and look around with a flashlight. I call out to Elbow to get a location as to where she thinks Marmalade’s path might have been, but lo! The opening Elbow thought was there has been closed up by her hired hand many months ago. For Marmalade to have gotten to where her body was found would require she travel over a small wall, and well over thirty-five feet. I can see where the body was removed, but where the body lay, there were no drag makes, like an injured cat might make. Near the body there was some evidence of disturbed dirt, and a second set of tracks, but those might have been made months ago. This is not the last resting place of a cat who was attacked by a dog and drug herself to her final resting place. Marmalade walked here, on all fours, yet once here, she died on the spot after some sort of physical activity. There is no way a cat with a broken neck walks here and dies.
Elbow and I review my findings with a fine tooth comb. No, she agrees, Frank did not kill Marmalade, and neither of us will ever really know what happened. The leading theory now is snakebite, but there is no direct evidence of this so all we can do is speculate.
The fact that Frank is capable of attacking and killing another animal actually rules him out. With Izzy egging him on, there is no way a house cat survives at attach by a dog of Frank’s size, and still goes off to die without leaving evidence of the fight. Frank is exonerated. The issues with him are no longer a mortal issue. Izzy must go, however, simply because he causes too much trouble, and a good home can be found.

Marmalade was my cat, or at least the cat of Elbow’s I could claim when I sat down. She was my friend. She was a talky cat who purred loudly and meowed at me if I rubbed her back hard. She made for a good lap warmer in cold weather, and despite the fact the dogs greet me with much more enthusiasm than she, Marmalade would always come to see me, and let me per her chin. She was a gentle and loving soul who once stood down a six foot long rattlesnake right outside Elbow’s home until Elbow could find someone to kill it. Marmalade was a better person than most people who will make the news this week.

We will never know how she died, but here, in this, I wish to remember her for the life she lived.

Take Care,


  1. So sad. I love dogs & cats, though they do not always get along well. Both species have their unique traits, and should be valued because of their individuality -- much like human personalities.

  2. We still do not know what happened but we do know that Frank did not do it.

    That is not much, but enough at this point.

  3. Too sad Mike... I have to keep mine inside, so I have some idea.
    I got a letter this week, 'we just moved here and our cat is missing' another heartbreak for some family.
    To have a heart is to have it broken from time to time.
    Tell Elbow I am think ing of her and that I wish her peace.

  4. I will, Lloyd. At least she knows where Marm is, and she didn't just disappear.

  5. This is sad on so many levels. For Frank's sake, I'm glad you were CSI.