Doggone it, who needs words when the eyes speak volumes?
Category Archives: furry friends
Picking up a bag of dog food for Shadow was on the list of errands that chilly Christmas Eve day in 1998. My eight year-old daughter Laurie and her friend Dana chattered in the back seat as I carefully navigated the busy streets filled with last minute shoppers, and pulled in to one of the last spots in the crowded Petco parking lot.
A blast of warm air scented with eau de gerbil greeted us as we entered the store. I told the girls they could go explore while I found what I needed. Lugging the 25-pound bag of Iams to the checkout counter, I was interrupted by squeals from the girls and I followed the sound to locate them.
“Mom, come look!” Laurie said excitedly.
In a corner of the store sat a woman with a litter of kittens for adoption. Six little bundles of preciousness. Of course I had to take a look. Just a look.
One in particular–a puffball of black fur with jade eyes and a funny crook in the tip of her tail–stared at us through the wire-meshed cage and meowed softly. She was small enough to fit into Laurie’s hand.
As we oohed and aahed over her adorableness, we took turns holding her. She nestled in my arms and purred as I stroked her head. Don’t do this, I warned myself. We already have a dog. We don’t need another pet. And yet …
“Laurie, call Dad and ask him if we can get a kitten,” I said, handing her my cellphone.
I held the kitten in my arms as I walked slowly, bouncing rhythmically, the way you do with colicky newborns. I listened to Laurie’s end of the phone conversation with my husband.
“But it’s so cute … yes I will take care of it … Emily’s not that allergic … yes I do take care of Shadow … I know I can’t get everything I want …”
Laurie put her hand over the mouthpiece and whispered, “He said no. Absolutely not. He said he hates cats.”
I couldn’t possibly separate from this little creature that was now fast asleep in my arms. Would it be so terrible to overrule my husband? I didn’t think he would leave me because I brought home a cat.
“Tell Dad we’ll just try it out and see how it goes,” I said. “We can always bring her back if it doesn’t work out.”
I knew it would work out. And that’s how we got Zoë.
What will I remember about her? She liked to fetch her catnip toys when we threw them. At the sound of a can opener being used, she would race into the kitchen expecting a morsel of tuna. She liked to look outside and chatter at the birds, twitching that funny tail of hers. She liked to cuddle with me when I watched TV. When Laurie came home for a weekend visit, Zoë waited for her on her bed.
The vet always said what a good cat she was. During her last days when her kidneys were failing he tried everything to help her, but there was nothing that could be done.
My husband and I held her in her final moments. She was with us for 14 1/2 years, but it wasn’t enough. I stroked her head one last time. She was too sick to purr, but I think she knew we were there, cradling her with love.
It is dark and the house is still except for my softly snoring husband. Not even the earliest rising birds have begun to ruffle their feathers in wakefulness. I am in deep REM slumber with at least an hour of delicious sleep yet to savor. Suddenly, my dreams are interrupted by an intensely cold wetness on the back of my neck. My eyes fly open and I fling myself over to come face to face with a freckled white, not to mention cold and wet, nose.
I yawn. Duncan apologizes with his happy canine smile. I feel the flutter of a cooling breeze as his furiously wagging tail fans my face. “Dunk,” I whisper, as I glance at the clock in disbelief, “do you know what time it is?”
I feign indignation, but he knows he’s got me wrapped around his paw (or “pawsie,” the baby talk term I use with him. Yes, I’m hopelessly sappy). I rub the sleep from my eyes as he gazes at me adoringly while resting his head on my leg. I throw back the covers and head for the bathroom to pull on my sweats. Duncan does a happy dance and prances around the bedroom, which rouses Zoe from her spot in the corner. Arching her back in a morning stretch, she trots over to rub against my leg. The three of us make our way through the dark to the kitchen, and my two furry friends wait patiently for their breakfast.
I am a morning person and treasure this brief respite before my busy day gets fully underway. As the sun begins to rise, I make a pot of coffee and putter around the kitchen while Duncan and Zoe crunch away. After a quick scan of the headlines and a few moves on Words with Friends, I ask Duncan if he is ready for his walk. He has never turned me down.
My day begins with quiet “me” time, a chance to reflect and prepare, and best of all, expressions of unconditional love from two of the most adorable creatures ever. Who needs that extra hour of sleep, anyway?
Dawn breaks with the first shaft of sunlight dancing on the water. It is still but for the gentle crash of the surf and the squawk of a seagull in flight. A few fishing boats dot the landscape, and the ocean, sparkling like a cascade of diamonds, goes on forever.
I scan the shoreline in both directions, and there is no one in sight. Of course it’s empty. It is early on a Saturday morning, and sensible people are relishing the extra sleep. Duncan and I, however, both early risers, are excited to explore the beach.
We will find treasures: a piece of driftwood, a glistening pearly shell, a sand crab burrowing in the wet sand. With practiced precision, a bevy of sandpipers skitters away from the tide, and then back again as the waves recede. Duncan observes a gathering of gulls up ahead and races to join them. The birds, alarmed, trot a few steps and then flap their wings to freedom. Duncan looks back at me and wags his tail.
Our walk concluded, we sit on the deck. I sip my coffee and read the morning paper. Duncan gazes at the ocean, happily anticipating our next beach adventure.
Duncan’s eyes shifted reproachfully to the suitcase I was hefting into the trunk of my car. His ears drooped. His shoulders slumped. As I retrieved my coat from the closet and returned to the garage, I found that Duncan had trotted silently out to the car and was sitting patiently in the front seat, ready to get this party started. My heart melted, but reality prevailed as I tried to sweet-talk him inside.
“Come in the house,”I pleaded.
No dice, said his body language as he avoided eye contact.
I can not be bribed, he told me.
I scooped him up with tender kisses.
“I need to go pumpkin,” I said, “but I promise I’ll bring you something.”
Unsatisfied, but with a sigh of quiet resignation, he watched the door close, and I was gone.