Tues 24 Nov
Xiao Q is the exception in this locale simply because he’s big. Most of the dogs I see here are toysize. Now the cold weather has come, the little critters are dressed in garish dog coats and carried in their owners’ arms like kitsch prizes. They have spoiled faces and big scared eyes and if Xiao Q plays with them his friendly sniffs knock them staggering.
It’s the cats that are the contenders, serious animals with a job to do. One of them is opposite me right now in the noodle shop, purring at me to see if he can beg some chow mien. He’s a hefty ginger tom with shoulders like a rugby player. He’s friendly but has a purposeful demeanour.
Two days ago I saw one of his brethren carrying a rat with the size of its own head. The cat looked pleased, as if it knew it was earning its keep, as well as eating it. Rats are a constant problem here and cats the Burroughs-ish exterminators, pale eyed and brusque.
Writing this, I feel sorry for Xiao Q. The walks that we take him for are tiny hour-long excursions that hardly tax his huge frame. When he paces thru the shrubs in the University he looks happiest, akin to a big predator. But he has nothing to predate and so he chews his own plastic bowls to pieces, nibbles my artworks to get a rise from me, howls, or places his sad face on our knees.