Thanking Lord Tennyson for his word smithing, I am starting a new series of reflections on the animals that have graced and expanded my world. I'm sharing these with you in short bursts so I hope you will catch all the bits and pieces.
A friend of mine, Jan of Laughing Dog Arts did a lovely tribute piece of art to one of her much loved dogs and I was so moved by her work and her thought in doing the work, I began to gather my thoughts and harvest my memories of the animals that have brought me to this point in my life.
Anyone who has ever loved an animal also knows that there is an ending to our relationship with them. The endings are sometimes not easy or pleasant but these events also have molded my life and loves. I must add without the love and friendship of these animals, I know that I would not have the mind set that I do, nor would I know what loving and losing is really all about, both of which I believe are vital parts of being a human with compassion and humility. I have been blessed by the knowing of each one of my beasties and would not change anything.
I'll begin with the first pair of animals that Sweet Man and I were owned by. The first was a dachshund cross that won my heart as Shelley in her stroller and I cruised the mall in Westminster Colorado. He had the dachshund markings on his sweet black and tan body but he had the longer legs and wagginess of a whatever else his heritage may have been. Herbie was a riot of fun and just the right companion for a three year old Shelley. He was energetic, loved to be dressed up, followed his girl everywhere and was always up for game of fetch. Shelley adored him and he did her as well. He had the most remarkable sparkling eyes that spoke volumes.
When we moved back to Albuquerque from the Denver area a few months later, Shelley voiced a desire for a kitten. We had read a book about a white kitten that needed a home and I am sure that is what influenced her choice. So, I being the obedient Mom went in search of an all white kitten. I expected that it would be hard but the stars were in alignment because in less than one week I had located someone who had white kittens.
We went to this persons house (every time we drive by there, one or the other of us will always say, "that's where we got the white tornado") and there were at least 3 litters of all white kittens roaming the living room of the house. Needless to say, I felt like we were rescuing whichever one we chose. Less than desirable living arrangements would be a vast understatement. Also, I had no idea that all white animals sometimes can have recessive gene disorders like being sterile, deaf or having other health problems. These kittens were all kinds of crazy and when we made our final choice, we had a helluva time getting said kitten to the car and home. He was a crafty little devil. Got out of the carrier, raced around the car and just a suddenly as the white storm had hit, he found Shelley's lap and laid down and slept the rest of the way home. Cricket was so sweet......sometimes, but he never lost his white tornado attitude. He was always his own master and marched as he saw fit and if that included the rest of us, so be it but if it was a cat day, then humans just stand back.
The meeting of Herbie and Cricket was the funniest, most side splitting laugh filled moment I can remember ever. I very much wanted to do the right thing in separating the two and letting them get used to each other but they had something quite different in mind. Herbie took one look at Cricket and the games were afoot. But don't feel sorry for Cricket because even though he was only a 6 week old kitten, remember he came from crazyville and was used to being chased. They ran and ran and played and ran some more. We just sat back and watched the show. They raced up walls, I kid you not, and under furniture and around the house until they finally neither one had chase left in them. At which point they fell asleep together in Herbie's bed. And that didn't change until the day Herbie left home.
When we would let Herbie out to go potty, most times he would come running back in to play with Shelley or the cat. But on occasion he would high tail it over the fence and just run. Always scared the crap outta me. I would get in the car and roam the neighborhood looking for him. Most of the time, I found him at McDonald's or he would be on the doorstep when I got home. He just loved Mickey D fries. He would dance for them when we brought fries home. One day, I went looking for him and he was no where to be found. I searched for days and then weeks, did all the things one does when you lose a pet. I always hoped that someone thought he was a stray and just took him home. This is before chipping your pet.
Cricket looked for his racing buddy too. Herbie was only 4 when he went for his last French fry run.
Cricket got into so many cat fights. This was before I had good sense and had only indoor cats. Every time he would come home with a "boo boo" he would just flop himself down on the bathroom floor expecting me to be his care giver. I tended to his wounds and the vet and I had a standing joke about the fact that Cricket must be a voyeur because having been fixed he had no reason for being there he just came to watch the action. He always got bit in the butt and I lanced my share of bottom wounds, that's for sure. Cricket also had "kitty acne" infected chin hair follicles and weekly then needed tending to. I'm sure they itched. It must have been a crazy sight to see me popping pimples on the chin of that cat. And the weirdest part is that he never fought me on any application of anything. He was an oxymoron walking. Wanted all things his way but never fought help when it came. He was a stranger than fiction animal. Would climb into the animal control truck and wait for Steve. We were on first name basis because Steve said he couldn't in good conscience take in an animal who was as strange as Cricket. The cat also climbed into a repairman's truck and went to spend the night in Las Lunas. I am amazed that the man brought him back but he did. Charmed life I guess. He would come home with lipstick and mascara on him from some little girl playing with him like Shelley did when she was little and we never knew who. Got banned from the house next door because he would go in and nap with their cat on their bed. Would hear me call him and ignore me while laying in the yard next door. He was a brat cat of the highest order.
Now Sweet Man has never been a cat person. But Cricket made his decision about SM. SM would become his human after we moved into our new house. The cat would sit on SM's chair and wait for him to come home every evening at 5:30 or if Cricket was busy doing something else, all SM had to do was call "son" and here came the white beastie to be with his man. The two were fast and true friends in no time at all. Cricket was an excellent instructor and expected nothing less than total obedience from his students.
Cricket went on in life to train two St. Bernard puppies, see Shelley into High School and kept us in line until he was 13. He had a terrible habit of laying down in the gutter in the street in front of our house. He just did no matter what we did to dissuade him, he must have liked the view of the road. And one day a kid in a red Mustang pulled onto the wrong side of the road, aimed for him and got him.
Both of those animals taught me love, patience, particularly with Herbie and his running off, and endurance. They were my first foray into what since them has become a self talk I do when faced with the "opportunity" to go into relationship with another animal. "This relationship will bring me more love than longing and I will be better for it".
That has never not been true.