Standing Guard

The Sentinel

Chester is our sentry. He patrols our home as a cat army of one. Because of this, he can go by any rank from private to five-star general depending on the job needed to successfully execute the mission.

And what is this mission? To protect our castle from the barbarians at the gate. And who are they? The Visigoths? Vandals? Let’s Make a Deal contestants? No, they are the ferocious creatures of nature who roam on the other side of the parapets; small birds, squirrels, chipmunks and whatever else scurries or flies outside.

Unlike the Spartan 300 at Thermopylae or Davey Crockett and his fellow defenders of the Alamo, Chester really doesn’t have to worry about a last stand against the pagan hordes. But he does his duty anyway.

U.S. Army doctrine stipulates the overall goal of defense, is “to regain the initiative from the attacking enemy. The defending commander uses the characteristics of the defense—disruption, flexibility, mass and concentration, preparation, and security—to help accomplish that task.” In Chester’s mind, he’s an expert in all of these areas.

To achieve the overall goal of defending our home, Chester will occasionally go upstairs to get a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield around our home. Other times he’ll peer from the one basement window he climbs up to; that gives him a very limited view. But the first floor is his command and control center. It has the sliding back door glass and multiple windows to peer out of for spotting stealthy terrorists. It’s also easier to maneuver around. This allows him to quickly run back and forth to keep real time eyes on the foes while leading from the front.

If Chester were tech savvy, he could use drones to spy on the unsuspecting raiders. I must admit it would be cool to see him smoke a squirl with a Hellfire missile. I’m sure our home insurance rate would go up; but such is the price of war.

“Take no duty of the Guard lightly.”

David Petersen

Chester is both the Chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff and the head of all the agencies that make up our Department of Homeland Security. It’s not easy wearing so many hats. That’s why Chester sleeps most of the time. But when he’s awake and not locked in the basement, he is ever vigilant, something the citizens of our home are most grateful for. Yet the would-be attackers pay no attention to him; that’s because they are preoccupied with more important things, like surviving in the wild.

To feed into his kitty commander fantasy, we are obligated at times to salute him as he waddles by. He returns the salute by raising his tail ramrod straight. A gesture that would make any soldier proud.

What wouldn’t make a soldier proud is when someone comes to the door. They can’t hear Chester’s meow. It doesn’t have the same impact as a pit bull barking. The dynamics to the theater of operations changes when a package is delivered or a guest enters the house, especially if they have a dog. In that case, cowardness overrides fictitious valor and it’s time to sprint upstairs to hide under a piece of furniture. Sometimes it’s better to lead from the rear.

We chalk up this change in tactics to the stress of command; and Chester doesn’t have a Camp David for getting a little R&R. This is the burden of leadership.

Hazards of the Watch

Chester was pulling sentry duty recently to keep surveillance on the backyard. His post was located on top of two seat cushions on a chair by the kitchen table, where my wife, Genifer and youngest daughter, Lily, was also sitting. Chester usually positions himself on the chair next to one of the big kitchen windows, but on this day, Chester felt it was more reassuring for the humans to know he was close by to protect them from the critters outside.

Chester’s observation platform wasn’t very stable, but it showed his commitment to uphold his sworn oath to defend our home from the horde of little creatures he imagined were ready to assault the premises.

Regardless of his precarious spot, Chester, being a cat, must do cat things. This time, the thing he decided to do was to raise one leg and start licking himself; because military discipline is best represented by a spotless uniform.

Felines have legendary balance. You can toss a cat upside down and it will land on its feet without much effort. Chester can do that too, except when he’s engaged with licking himself. This act of keeping himself immaculate was going to result in an embarrassing moment for our protector.

Having two seat cushions on the chair was a perilous base for Chester. As long as he was focused on his assignment, he was fine. But in this situation, clean and tidy was going to cost him a piece of his cat ego.

Chester curls up after his un-catlike fall.

It happened in a flash. The first sign of trouble was Chester’s eyes widening with the look of fear. Then he fell off and hit the floor in an un-catlike manner. Before he could do anything else, Genifer and Lily were bawling with laughter. Our stunned tabby was now feeling embarrassed. To save face, he slinked over to one of the seat cushions and curled up on it to show he meant for this fiasco to happen so he could take a cat nap.

I’m happy to report that no varmints breached our home while the sentry was sleeping on the job. As for Chester, since he holds all ranks in his military of one, there will be no repercussions. No KP duty, no demotion, court martial or firing squad. Just more naps.

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