Two people I know from their blogs have lost dogs in the last few days, a third less recently, and another lost a cat. And then there was the cat that was killed in front of our house the other night. I look at my dogs, and remember how terrified I was when Zorro ran away, the first weekend we owned our old condo, and every time he had a seizure, which, I hesitate to write, he has been free of for almost two years now.
I’m told that Americans treat their housepets differently than most other people, what with many of us bringing our animals into the bedroom, hiring petsitters, coddling our furry friends, so I ask: how, after being awakened in the morning by happy kisses from a pooch who is sharing their joy in life, or waking from a nightmare to find a furry body full of non-judgemental comfort, who will rouse himself from a comfortable position and accompany you to the bathroom, without you asking, can you NOT consider a pet as part of the family?
There are times I feel sorry for my pair, and their apparent compulsion to be my dual shadows. If I go into my office, they trot after me; if I go to the bedroom, they hop onto the bed, and wait with their eyes shining in seeming adoration. If I stop in the hall, momentarily indecisive about where I was going, they stop, too, and circle my legs, or jump up for cuddles.
There are times they annoy me – when I’m in the middle of a project and they want attention RIGHT NOW, when it’s 4 in the morning and they need to go out, when I’m doing laundry and they decide the stack of freshly folded clothing is the best place to sprawl, but those are fleeting moments, solced with nothing more than a firm No, and a treat later.
Most of the time, though, my dogs are sources of entertainment. I watch Cleo try over and over to catch flies, or chase birds; I grin at the way her tail curls when she goes on alert and runs the perimeter of the yard. I giggle at Zorro growling at his meat, when we feed him, a ferocious beast packed in an eight-pound body, and laugh when he ducks his head, and play-bows, demanding belly rubs.
Cleo is almost four, and Zorro is not quite seven, so hopefully there’s a while yet before we need to worry about either of them dying from natural causes, but whenever there are workmen here, the gardener, the pool guy, the recent stream of plumbers, I’m terrified that one of them will get out, and get lost, or hit by a car. And if that happened, would someone stop, as the kid who hit the cat did, and read their tags, and knock on doors, or would they drive away in denial? It’s a thought better left alone.
Instead, I’ll enjoy evenings like this one: we watched a movie earlier, and each of us had a dog to cuddle during the gorey bits (it was Freddy vs. Jason), and then my actifed kicked in, and I went off to take a nap, with two furry guardians making sure I rested, and now Fuzzy’s in his office, and I’m sitting on the bed, and the dogs are taking turns visiting each of us. Later tonight, we’ll settle in for sleep, and so will they, only content when their family – their pack – is together.