As I drive around my neighborhood (or walk if I am feeling energetic), I notice the dogs and cats that are my neighbors. And I think I discovered something about them. It is entirely possible that others have already made this discovery, and/or that I myself have already pointed out the discovery. However, because I am now almost on the edge of being not only a cat lady but also a dog lady, I am paying a great deal of attention to cats and dogs.
My discovery? Dogs are optimists, and cats are pessimists.
All you have to do is look at a dog. Riding (or driving) a car. Chasing a ball. Walking on a leash. Whatever. The dog clearly has everything to look forward to, and knows there will be no disappointment. Dogs sit in the hallways to doors, knowing without a doubt that someone will come along with a leash and be an escort for walks. Dogs are absolutely certain that when they hop on to the passenger seat, they will eventually have an opportunity to be on the driver’s seat to make the order at their locals. Dogs smile because they know the world is made for them. Watch a dog at play, and you have to be happy–they seem to be doing it all for you. They make you part of their life and assume that you will return the favor.
Cats are a bit different. They pretend to aloofness. They are not sure that someone will come to the door immediately to let them in or out. Underneath all of the “I am the best, treat me like the king or queen that I clearly am” persona, cats are a bit worried about their reception. Humans cannot be counted on to attend to the cats’ every need or to admire what is clearly a top of the line being. Cats don’t just raise their eyebrows, looking askance, if you don’t meet expectations, they throw a hissy fit. They also have a bit of an attitude problem which can bring on what they always knew was going to happen–their dreams will not come true. Cats are, in my view, among the sweetest of creatures, but it is not clear that they want you to know it. Cats can be content and purring. But they make no assumptions that you will return the feelings. They make you a part of their life, but expect nothing more than a servant would provide. Or at least that is the pretense.
So perhaps the path to a happy life has a cat or two and a dog or two walking with you. Dogs can teach cats how to think positively and expect the best and cats can teach dogs how to remain a little aloof and pretend disfavor if the best is a little late. A little optimist and a little pessimist. Teaching love. Sounds like a plan.
Yesterday, I had a dog for an hour or so. I must admit that there was a wonderful feeling of contentment when my dog came up to me and followed me into my back yard. I have never “owned” a dog before, but now I see the attraction. Here’s the story.
I drove home after picking up books at the library to take to storage for our library book sale and was organizing said books into various boxes (fiction, nonfiction, kid books, etc) when I looked up and saw this beautiful dog staring at me from my neighbor’s yard. These neighbors are also cat people and I had never seen this dog before. He was a very large dog, and to a non-dog person looked like a giant husky. Black face and white body with other markings. He and I looked at each other and I swear the dog smiled. He moved slowly toward me and I saw that his hips and legs were not completely under his control. I thought immediately that he had been hit by a car. I looked up and down my street as he came forward and there was no owner in sight. So I said “hi, babe” (even though for whatever reason, I call him he”) and smiled right back at him. He picked up a little speed and before I knew it, he and I were best friends forever. I rubbed his brow and he rubbed my leg. Still no owner, but this was clearly an old dog and very infirm. Up close, his legs did not show evidence of a recent accident, but were more like advanced arthritis that had caused the legs to turn inward. Anyway, we smiled at each other and rubbed, and I started walking around the side of my house toward the gate to my back yard, and this most marvelous creature followed me closely all the way back and through the gate into the yard. I went in and got him a big dish of water and he drank a bit as I watched. But, now what?
I belong to Nextdoor, a computer thing that allows messages to be sent to surrounding neighborhoods, so I posted a message that I had found a dog, and included his picture. No responses came in, so I called SCRAPS, our local animal protection group, and explained that I had found this dog (actually, he found me) but that I could not keep him and could they help him? Yes, they could. A super lady came within an hour and she and the dog walked happily off to the truck (after she was able to get him back on his feet–he had decided to lay down for a nice nap and could not get up). And just like that, my dog was gone. I called later and was told that SCRAPS was taking my dog to the vet to see about fixing up his rear legs. Perhaps his owners will think to call them. The super lady had said that he might have been frightened by a severe thunderstorm we had the night before and worked loose. If that is not the case, then it is my hope that the dog will find a new home where the people will take really good care of this marvelous creature.
So, now I know a little bit about life with dog. I simply cannot forget that peaceful feeling of having dog keep me company on that short walk.
Here is Dog.
This is my cat. She spends a great percentage of her time admiring the cat in the mirror. I am not absolutely sure whether she knows she is admiring herself, but I do think she does know because she is a very smart kitty. She has been doing this mirroring for most of her life, and like me, I think she now wonders where all that white fur (in her case) came from, seemingly overnight.
The cat first discovered herself when she was just a kitten and was helping me work a yard sale in our driveway. I had set the mirror out so that people could try on hats and clothes, but somehow it ended up leaning against the outside of the house, at ground level. At some point, I noticed some people stopping to smile in that vicinity and discovered the little cat in meatloaf pose in front of the mirror. She had apparently been there for some little time, as she had gathered a crowd to admire her admiring herself. From her demeanor, it was clear that she felt that the crowd was her due, because she was certainly the most beautiful of all–that no one could deny. She stayed in front of the mirror for a very long time, and when a buyer asked to purchase the mirror, she (the cat) gave me one of those cat looks that all cat people know means “you wouldn’t dare”.
So since that long-ago day, the cat’s mirror has leaned against one wall or another, and the cat can very often be found sitting or lying in front of it entranced by the beauty of the cat in the mirror, purring. You can often find me sitting on a nearby chair entranced by the beauty of both of the cats, one of whom is purring and both of whom, of course, are ignoring me entirely.
Walking up, then down my driveway this morning, I see I am being watched. REALLY watched. Huge eyes following my progress over the ice. The head never moved, just the eyes. Ears forward, whiskers on the alert, the little black kitty follows my every step from his perch in the window next door.
It’s actually a bit unnerving, being so carefully watched, even if it’s just a cat (do NOT tell my cat I said that!). That little kitty was counting my breaths, listening for the beats of my heart. Is she friend? Is she walking too close to what’s mine? Does she really mean that smile or is she luring me to the point where curiosity becomes dangerous? Do I dare move? Should I call my minions? Make myself really, really big? Or maybe she is smiling because she is happy, and she has not even noticed me as I sit here so silently, so stealthily, immobile except for my eyes.
Everything I have ever heard or seen about cats tells me that no human can win a staring war against a cat. That came a little closer to being proven this morning, although I was not really staring–just watching him watch me. It did feel good, though, to know that the little kitty is watching over me. He won’t let anything bad happen on his watch! Of course, the question is what is his definition of bad?
Sun brightens the sky
While fog lies low over fields.
Happy dogs unseen.
Time is moving a bit slowly nowadays. Funny how that happens. I would very much like time to be flowing at full speed ahead plus a little just now. Or to be a little more specific, I would like part of time to be like walking through quicksand and other parts of time to be trying to match the Enterprise at warp speed.
You have certainly found that time moves slowly when you are going somewhere and much more quickly when you are going home. That’s not quite what I am hoping for. I want parts of time to be moving very fast and other parts very slow while going somewhere–all at once, that is. I suppose to make this happen I ought to be having more fun–you know, time flies etc. However, it’s the having fun part of time that I want to slow down and the dumpy old part to speed up.
Honestly, the “holiday season” has been going on for what seems like forever this year, and while there is just another couple of weeks, I would love to wake up tomorrow morning to find that the holidays are over with until next Labor Day (used to be Thanksgiving, but that’s the part that sped up). The time I want to slow down has my family, friends, and my cat in it. The cat is moving towards her long nap, and I very much want her and my time to slow down so I can enjoy her longer. Selfish, I know.
We can split the atom, so why can we not split time? This is definitely something I am going to be working on, when I have a little time.
A couple of blocks from where I live there resides a rather large cat. I first saw this cat (no one would ever call her a “kittie”) when I glanced at a roof as I was driving by and there she was lying meatloaf style next to a chimney keeping warm in the sun. I saw her occasionally after that, crossing the road (oh, bad cat!) and wandering in the neighbors’ yards. But one day a few weeks ago, I heard a really sweet “meow” while I was out raking leaves, and when I looked up, there she was. A beautiful long-haired brown tabby.
I stepped toward her and she stepped toward me, and her meows became purrs as we got closer together. So I leaned down and petted her and scratched behind her ears and boy did she get loud! While it was a nice sunny day, it was not warm, and I was getting a little cold after a while, but she was not of a mind to leave this pleasant person (me!). I was a bit worried that she might not find her way back home, so I decided to give her a lift.
Well. She is one humongous cat. She had to weigh twenty five pounds (or maybe a ton). I about broke my back picking her up, but I got her into my arms and we started down the block toward her home. She purred and purred and snuggled as we walked. My arms started to feel a little strained from the weight, but I kept on. Who could have put her down and given up that wonderful purr? So on we went. I was starting to struggle when we turned the last corner and entered her block–I was not at all certain that I would make it to her home. Onward, she purred, and snuggled a little closer to my heart.
We made it to Humongous Cat’s yard, and I sat down on the curb and opened my arms. She meowed, turned, and with tail held high, sauntered into her yard. I said goodbye, and as I walked home, arms numb, I hoped I would see her again in my yard, at the same time hoping I would not.
She is some cat, old HC.