They both provide unconditional love, smell reassuring and have soft bellies. They’re loyal and unjudging. I’ve went to my dog with secrets I couldn’t imagine telling anyone else. She didn’t scold me. She didn’t offer her opinion. She held no anger. She just listened and licked my tears away. I’ve also went to my mom with confessions I’d held for years. Much like my dog, she only offered her silence and comfort. My mom didn’t lick my tears but she did offer me a Kleenex. The only difference between the two I can really see is one poops in the yard and the other makes the best spaghetti and meatballs in the entire universe. Maybe moms do have a little more up on dogs than just pasta and the ability to poop in a toilet. After all, I can drive down to the local shelter, shell out sixty bucks and pick out a pooch. There’s no such thing for moms. They’re all just that much loved at home and don’t require any rescuing.
I wish the same were true for dogs.
Still. I have been without a mom for ten years. It’s difficult to recall the last time I was without a dog.
It’s lonesome not having either. My dog, Misdemeanor, filled in some of the blank spots when my mom died. She offered me that soft belly, that reassuring smell. Now that my dog is gone, I have a lot of white space to cover.
It’s a strange and awful place to be–putting your dog down; poisoning it quickly for its own good.
As Misdemeanor got older, my friends often told me that I would know when the time was right to let her go. Sure, we knew she was getting aches and pains. She was 17 years old. Her legs were punching out the time clock before she was ready to call it a day. She couldn’t quite stand up the entire way or the entire time for a drink of water. When she laid down, she appeared to do so in slow motion. But the right time? There’s a time. But it’s not right. It’s heavy and it hurts.
Misdemeanor died almost six months ago. To cover some of the white spots, we adopted a cat from our shelter. We already own one cat. Or I should say, my husband owns a cat. We just call him Cat. I know, I KNOW. It’s an awful name and perhaps part of the reason why Cat hates me. I don’t want to be named Lady. I definitely don’t want to be called Woman. I much prefer Amy. I get it. Cat should not be a proper noun name. But he has never liked me. He had it out for me the day we brought him home from the shelter. He tried many nights to murder me. Luckily, he doesn’t have thumbs and can’t hold a knife. We struggled to give him a suitable name. We landed on Richard–Dick for short. It was fitting. But Cat wouldn’t respond to being a Dick. So his name just morphed into Cat. In his mind, he was probably thinking, “Dick or Cat? That’s what you came up with? Have you people ever heard of Tigger? Oliver? Shadow? Let me see. If these are my two choices, I guess I’ll stick with Cat. Your name should be Dick, you jerk wad. Get another dog next time, loser.”
Cat loathes visitors and would even likely attack the milkman if the milkman came displaying a vat of top shelf cream just for him. We have to imprison him in the spare bedroom anytime guests come over to ensure no physical fights break out. He’s just an obscene, boorish, overweight cat who doesn’t know love for anyone but Jason. I tried to bond once again with Cat when Misdemeanor died. I gave him all the love I had, blowing kisses, all the tuna in the cupboards, a clean litter box every single morning-and that rarely happens. All that love ever got me was a few scratch marks and a sore attitude about cats and life in general.
Then Rodeo came along, strutting his legs free from the confines of the animal shelter cages. Happy as a clam. That guy had been locked up for weeks.
Rodeo is also of the feline persuasion. I mean to say he’s a cat, but he’s charming unlike any cat I’ve ever known. I suppose I’ve only ever known Cat. Rodeo comes when I whistle. He adores belly rubs and back scratches. He actually purrs. He lays at my feet when I work. He races me around the house. Rodeo is a dare-devil and a deer whisperer. He’s more fun than a summer carnival. He was also full-grown and was named prior to us adopting him. There’s that entire Nature vs. Nurture thing to consider. Perhaps if we had raised him, he’d be as demented and vulgar as Cat, trying to stab my eyes out with his front claws right now. On the contrary, Rodeo has even influenced Cat to be a more agreeable sort of fellow.
Quite possibly, Cat was just lonely for a friend. I can understand that.
Sometimes life does get lonely. It doesn’t matter who you are, how many people you know, who your family is, how much money you have, what your house looks like, what kind of car you drive, even how many friends you have.
Who your friends are.
Thankfully, I got a few good ones right here at home.