One young boy on our street exhibited his independence by being the member of his family to walk their dog both before and after school. The dog came into their lives when Daniel was in about Grade 3, and I can remember how proud he was, not only of his puppy, but of his ability to walk the puppy around the block "all by himself".
Pets are the authors of memories, and are the stars of stories. I can tell you things about both Barkley, and his canine predecessor, Tuffy, a Miniature Pinscher that would have you howling. The stories include Tuffy's biting the flapping end of toilet paper, then racing around the house with the toilet paper in his mouth, all the while it unraveled rapidly from its roll. There was such sadness in his eyes when the game ended. And there is a story about Barkley, who one New Years Eve managed to get up on the dining room table and consume all of the fancy rolled ham tea sandwiches, while depositing the olives in their centre all over the table.
There are stories of Ashley, who frequently jumped sideways, when she was a kitten, half prance, half pounce. And then there's Little One who is part of the virtual universe, living on my computer desk, and playing with the mouse--my computer mouse, which must, she reasons, be fascinating, as my hand is so frequently on the cordless mouse than where it should be, scratching her behind the ears.
Animals remind me of transition. They share time with us, blithely unaware of their mortality, giving their all to their human companions. Days continue predictably, and as long as there is exercise, rest, a place to take care of one's essential functions, and sufficient adoration, they are happy. Until the days come when behaviour changes, when it becomes difficult to jump up on the kitchen counter (much less than on top of the 'fridge).
The animals with whom I have shared my life remind me of my creatureliness. They remind me that I too, am a created being, springing, as do they from the hand of the Great Creator. The cats if my life remind me to stop and smell the roses, (well not roses per se), but to take time to remember the ecstasy available in simple things like stretching out in a patch sun.
The dogs that I have known have taught me about loyalty, and play, and the importance of daily structure. (Both Barkley and Tuffy were wonderful at reminding us, by sitting at our feet and staring into our eyes that at 9:15, it was time for their evening walk.) The cats who are left in my home, Little One and Ashley are currently staring avidly out the kitchen door (with distance safely separating them) engaging in mutual fantasies about how fun it would be to chase the rabbit who has come to live in our back garden this spring.
They teach me, even as I write, about the importance of following my instincts, my "gut feelings' about a situation, instead of letting my anxieties rule in any given set of circumstances.
I thank God for the pet friends in my life. Especially, I am thankful for their wisdom.
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