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Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Cats and Dogs and Wishes

Jean Sexton muses:

When I lived at home with my parents we never had a pet. We traveled frequently and my parents said it wouldn't be fair to the dog to leave it behind. (Cats were never a possibility as my mother was scared of them.) However, the neighborhood was filled with cats and dogs and I played with all the ones deemed "friendly." As I got older and more responsible, I graduated to pet sitting when neighbors had to travel. I always saw how much the dogs missed their people. Cats were more forgiving, even the declawed cat that swatted my hand (hard!) as I put down her food.

When I graduated from college, I hadn't been living on my own three months before I had a kitten. Soon there were two. Then there were three. The three cats got my mother over her fear of cats. The first one was cute and adorable and left my mother alone. Lancelot started out more scared of her than she was of him -- how could she be afraid of him? Ursalet, a Persian, looked as though a handle should be screwed into her side and then she could be used to clean the floor. As my cats came and went, I loved them and didn't leave them alone more than a weekend.

When I moved to the country, I got dogs that were appropriate to the area. While my basset hound was stolen from her fenced-in half-acre yard, my boxer grew old and grey with me. After Ruggy was stolen, I swore I'd never have another outside dog other than the boxer. Then Ralph showed up, lost, scared, abused, and homeless. How could I turn him down?

My cats stayed inside and came over to be petted. My dogs played and did doggy things. I loved them all.

I had gotten most of my pets about the same time. I knew I was going to move to Texas and finding a place to stay with two large dogs and a little grey cat would be difficult. Then between the winter of 2011 and the winter of 2013, I lost all three of my pets. It tore at my heart. I hadn't been petless in nearly 30 years. When I made arrangements for my apartment, I made sure I could have some sort of pet.

From the time I arrived in Amarillo, I knew I wanted a dog. My apartment wasn't really good for leaving a cat alone as it could dart out the door when I came or went. Since the Coles agreed I could have a dog at work, that seemed perfect. Time passed. My apartment was tidy. But I was growing a little sadder as I went home to a perfectly neat, but empty apartment. Leanna noticed and informed everyone that I needed a dog NOW.

In October, Simone mentioned a dog they had at the SPCA that might be part collie or Shetland Sheep Dog or something. I hadn't really thought about adopting from there -- I thought I wanted a Sheltie or something similar. But browsing their site, I saw this adorable little dog named Markie. I went out there and was told he was very shy and nervous about people. Then he got in my lap, squirmed around to face me, and started to lick me. We chose each other and he came to live with me in November. He has some issues with trusting other people, but we are working on that.

For a single person, their pet ofttimes becomes their family. I am lucky in that Markie can come to work with me. But at night, when before my apartment was quiet and empty feeling, now it is filled with a busy little dog. He adores toys and he gets them to play with. He offers them to me to throw and then he gallops to get them back. He plays with balls and his little dextrous paws get them out of most places. If he can't get them out, he comes and gives me little puppy-dog eyes. I know that he needs my longer arms to reach the ball. There are times when he just wants to be held and told that he is loved. My home is no longer tidy. Markie doesn't always put his toys away. It is filled with love.

You can't be only about yourself with a pet. They have needs and those needs must be met. That means reaching out. For me, it means going on walks even if I don't want to.  ("I'm sorry Markie, I know you want a potty walk, but I'm too lazy," just doesn't cut it.)

I'm writing this as Markie lies snoozing on my foot and I listen to Christmas music. If I could make three wishes during this season, I think I would wish these:

That you enjoy an inner peace that shows in your life.

That you find happiness and joy during the coming year.

That you share that happiness and joy with those you love.

Markie would add that he hopes you have all the food, toys, and love that you need.

May your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) be a happy one.

All the best,

Jean and Markie