As I open the back door to let Graidy (my Border Collie mix) in out of the rain, I fail to notice that Finnegan (our Maine Coon cat) has snuck up behind me. As Graidy comes scooting in, Finnegan goes shooting out.

After a few choice words (why does this only happen when the weather is crummy, and my shoes are nowhere to be found), I dash outside in stocking feet with no coat. I call Kiera (my Australian Shepherd) out, and pray that she and I aren’t too rusty. We’ve had a very short herding season this year due to an injury.

Finn is making a forty yard dash to the back woods. I send Kiera for an outrun.

“Go by.” I wave her on.

She circles around from my left like she’s been doing this forever, and takes off to head Finn off at the pass. I continue to walk calmly toward Finn. He is now between me and Kiera, looking from one to the other of us, and not happy with his impending recapture. He bolts in a perpendicular line over toward the shed.

“Away to me,” I call out and keep my fingers crossed. We haven’t practiced this one much, so I cheat a little and also point where I want her to go. Thankfully, she takes off and circles counter-clockwise this time.

As she gets behind Finn and heads him toward me, she’s getting a little excited. I call out, “Steady, girl. Steady.”

She slows to a walk and starts nudging Finn’s butt to help him along. Finn is disinclined to move.

“Easy Kiera,” I say. “Settle.” I want her to lie down so that Finn won’t be likely to bolt again. “Just keep Finny Boy company for me. That’s right. Good girl.”

Just as I’m about to reach down for Finn, he does a quick side-ways hop. That’s all Kiera needs to flip into prey-drive hot pursuit. They both take off like a streak of cat you-know-what.

My feet are sopping wet. The wind is whipping pellet-sized rain drops at me and I’m soaked to the bone. And Kiera and Finn are having a grand old time playing tag.

I’m ready to give up and let the fates have their way, but the thought of Cait coming home from school and asking me where the missing Finn is makes me refocus on the task at hand.

“Okay,” I mutter to myself, “Now or never!” And I take off as fast as I can, doing my own outrun. I get myself in front of Finn, get ready for a quarterback tackle if necessary, and yell to Kiera, “Tree ‘im!”

Kiera runs him right up that tree like she’s been a working coon hound her whole life.

Finn’s clearly had enough. I calmly walk over, pluck him out of the tree, pat Kiera on the head, and we all squish back to the house.

Herding cats? All in a day’s work around here.