Today, I am joyfully remembering and praising the pets I've had over my almost sixty-one years of life. My cats, dogs, rats, goats, rabbit, horse, sheep, turtle, and hamster have been my boon companions every day, and I cannot imagine life without a pet.
Fluffy, a gray kitten, is the first pet I remember. We got her when I was three or four. I would dress her up in my doll's clothes. I did not like dolls, but I loved Fluffy, so I wanted to see how she looked in the pretty dresses my grandma had given me for my dolls. Fluffy was fairly tolerant for a cat, but one day she'd had enough. She took her paw and scratched my face. My mom was horrified because I was going to be the flower girl in my aunt's wedding in a couple of day. All was saved when they put makeup on my delighted four year old face, but my mom never let me dress Fluffy again.
Fluffy was my closest confidante in high school because I could trust her to keep her own counsel. She and I would sit for hours under the tree in the yard, and I would pour out all my hopes, dreams, and frustrations. She would always purr reassuringly when I cried over a boy or had a misunderstanding with a friend. She knew how to make everything just right. My heart broke when she died.
Some of my animal friends over the next thirty or so years have been: Elsa the cat, Thomas the turtle, Gordie the rat, Thumper the French Lop rabbit, Maude the cat, Beau the dog with a huge, loving heart, Katie the cat, Smokey the cat, Fionn the cat, Jennie the best dog ever, Rose the rat, Special the horse, Destiny the goat, Mama the sheep, Orlagh the cat, Patchie the cat, and Zeke the wonder dog. Each of these friends have shared happy times and sad times. They have shared meals too.
When I was a very poor student, working in a factory in the early 1970's, I would splurge each Friday when I cashed my paycheck, and buy a can of sardines. It was the only treat we had each week, and Elsa and I shared it. When we got Jennie, the best dog ever, in 1994, she was not supposed to live long because she had a severely defective heart. We brought her home and hoped to give her a good year. She lived six years because we gave her so much love, and she loved us back with every beat of her heart. I would bring her sliced roast beef for treats, and on her birthday we always got her an individual all meat pizza from Round Table. The kids and I would sing "Happy Birthday" to her while she scarfed down her pizza. Now we have Mollie the dog and Oreo the cat, who both love bacon. So, most days, Grant fries up bacon for me, and I share with Mollie and Oreo. It's lovely.
One thing I know for sure is that no matter how much love I give my pets, they love me back much more and much better. They have infinite patience and unconditional love. Zeke let me cry my eyes out into his fur when my middle son developed schizophrenia. I would sob and sob, and his fur would be soaked, but his glance was so kind, and his breath on my cheek so comforting. He never moved away, even though I'm sure I squeezed him too tightly at times.
The current situation in our home is a very odd one indeed because we are living with my husband's dementia. When Grant is not home, Mollie the dog, Oreo the cat, and Miss Whiskers (a deaf cat who does not like bacon) get just as unnerved as I do with some of Gordon's odd utterances and behaviors. Sometimes, it is scary; always, it is lonely. However, Mollie, Oreo, Miss Whiskers, and I keep each other company until Grant returns. Mollie and I take walks. Both cats and Mollie sit next to me when I'm reading, working on the computer, or watching a movie. Together, we keep the darkness of dementia at bay.
What is really amazing to see is when we hear Grant's car coming up the street. Mollie and Oreo run to the door to welcome Grant home. Oreo glues himself to Grant, and Mollie jumps and licks him and wiggles her whole body in delight. Mollie does this when Gavin or Amy shows up too. It's as if my children bring light to brighten the darkness of dementia, and Mollie, Oreo, Miss Whiskers, and I bask in the warmth of that light.
So, let's hear it for our pets. They love us just the way we are. They are never too busy for us and never preoccupied. They let us cry, or laugh, or dance with them. They share our meals. They share our beds. They don't pout or hold grudges. And, most importantly, my pets think everything I write on my blog is absolutely brilliant, and always reward me with a purr or an affectionate lick. I love you, Mollie, Oreo, and Miss Whiskers. Thank you for being such boon companions!
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