Some people have pets, some don’t. Some have dogs. Some have cats. Some have dogs AND cats. Some have horses or pigs or birds or iguanas or hamsters.
I honestly believe that many of us have pets because we adore the unconditional love our pets give us. They don’t take shit personally. They don’t come home crabby after a long day mousing and take it out on us and, when we come home crabby, they still love us. When we’re upset we turn to our pets and find comfort in ways we just can’t with human beings.
Late last August, we had to put Lisa’s long-time companion of 17 years to sleep. Tigga was Lisa’s best friend, for a long time. She saw Lisa through two bad relationships and a difficult aftermath of one. She helped nurse her back to health after Lisa had her seizure. And more than anything else, Tigga was not a “normal” cat in that she never once gave you that “You’ve got to be kidding me” look that cats are so good at. Each morning I’d sit at the top of the stairs to put my shoes on and Tigga would appear out of nowhere. That was her time to be loved on. I’d put on a sock…love on Tigga. Put on a shoe…love on Tigga. Tie the shoe…love on Tigga. Repeat for the second foot. Anytime I took out my knitting, Tigga magically appeared on the couch up against my hip, as if to give me support and help me find a rhythm. Tigga loved intensely. And we loved her the same in return. How could you not?
Simba is a sweet boy — we often comment that he’s too pretty to be a boy. Each morning I get up, go to the bathroom and, after using the toilet put the seat down. I have to do that. As soon as he hears the toilet flush, Simba nudges the door open (I don’t know why I bother to close it) and needs to jump up on the toilet seat and stand guard sitting there as I shower. I open the shower curtain, grab a towel and begin to dry off as he jumps down and inspects the shower. Then he gets back up on the toilet and plays catch with my towel as I’m drying off. He’s six years old and weighs 20 lbs. He’s not fat, he’s just a BIG boy. But he’s a baby, really. He purrs incessantly and we can often hear him from another room. There’s something comforting about hearing that purring sound.
And he loves his baby sister. He grooms her. He holds her. He cuddles with her. He plays with her.
As I finish up with my morning bathroom/shower ritual and I go out to the kitchen, Simba is at the food dishes. Cedar is at the refrigerator waiting for milk. Idgie circles around her plate waiting for milk, too.
After I get home from work, I always go to the bedroom to change into more comfortable clothes. Idgie usually marches me down that hallway toward the bedroom since she has developed the need to be loved on after having spent the whole day home alone (the other two are outdoor cats). She bolts down the hallway ahead of me, shoots through the pet portal at the bottom of the door and, by the time I open the door, there she is, on the bed, waiting for me.
Cedar comes in at night and jumps up into a lap and, no matter who owns the lap, she can find a soft spot on them (usually a fat-filled tummy) to do “pushie-pushie” on until she seems nearly orgasmic with the act. Then she settles into the lap to nap.
I guess what I’m getting at is that our pets make our lives what they are. When we lost Tigga last fall, I was lost for a long time after that. These days, I put my shoes on in various different places, almost subconsciously trying to avoid putting them on where Tigga once “helped” me with my shoes.
My Aunt Wanda loves her pets, too. Maggie is a long-haired dachshund (Lisa calls her the “doorbell”), Bro and Patches were stray cats that just wandered into my aunt’s life one day, and Soo Ling was a beautiful Siamese who, at the age of 24, was still every bit a classy lady.
Three months ago, it was found that Bro had cancer in his brain and he had to be put down. My aunt is still trying to get past the sting of losing her loveable little man who’s toes spread wide in ecstacy whenever he was petted.
Two days ago, she lost her long-time friend Soo Ling. Soo Ling was 24 years old — way off the age charts for a cat. While we all knew that Soo Ling’s time was coming, it sure didn’t make it any easier for Wanda when that time came. She’s lost two of her “kids” in the past three months and there’s such a huge void in her heart right now that my heart breaks for her.
Mary, our neighbor, as much of a crabby old dolt that she is, loves her dogs. Tish is a big white fluff of fur who has fought cancer for years. Mary has shelled out thousands of dollars for the care of this beautiful creature. Sasha is a little furball who is just a love. These two dogs are all Mary has and in recent times, with all that Mary has gone through, and with the number of times she has expressed a desire to just go to sleep and not wake up, I know that she goes on every single day for those dogs.
I knew a girl out in Colorado that contemplated suicide frequently but it was her dogs that kept her alive.
They’re not “just a dog” or “just a cat.” I’d like to think that our pets teach us a bit of humanity each and every day. They set an example of how we should love every living creature with which we share this planet.