THe first person I actually met upon entering Katya's house wasn't Katya or Misha or their Babushka aunt it was Cusia. An enormous under bite with one glistening yellowed tooth propping up his oversized jowls, Cusia came a runnin when that door was opened. Immediately Katya's warm smile broke into a snarl much like Cusia's and she began yelling at him a slew of curses I have yet to learn along with one word I knew, "Sabaka." She told me not to worry about him he was not used to strangers and didn't like English very much. With deep guttural growls he was forced back into her room only to launch himself into the door with a loud clatter as the glass panes in the frame shook against Cusia's significant body weight. I began wondering if Cusia was Russian for Kujo?
He is a British bulldog who as it turns out is very sweet. Cusia now nestles his haunches in my lap when I come home and awaits a good back scratch which always elicits a kind of purr much like a cat if the cat were mated with a bullfrog. At night though when I stagger to the toilet and walk past Katya's room I hear the inevitable heavy footfalls of a good guard dog speeding towards the door, then Katya screaming "Cuzia nyet!" and his head slamming full force into the wooden door. I'll miss this abode and Cusia most of all.