In this month’s parish newsletter, I mentioned that this year’s Blessing of the Pets – would have a sad overtone – since we had recently experienced the death of several well known pets in our parish family. I think I got more response to that article – then any of the many that I’ve written. And I found that other folks had been thinking the same thing.
The death of a pet – is taken very seriously in this parish community. No one had ever dare say something like, “It was only a dog” or “It was just a cat. ”Be advised – that is about as politically incorrect around here – as one can get. And you might really find yourself “on the outs” if you don’t get excited about a new pet in the parish family – and take appropriate notice of the death of a beloved pet. It’s just who we are in this place.
As most of you know – my pets are very dear to me. I have a strange habit of adopting old – and sometimes unhealthy pets – from the local pounds and shelters .I seem to be drawn to the animals that I think no one else is going to want. And I know from the day I take them home – that my time with them is going to be relatively short – perhaps a few years – if I’m lucky. And because I know that from the start – it allows me to make a special effort to give them a little extra care, and love, and attention – that I perhaps would not give – if I knew that I would have 18ish years with them. And I think they know this. I think they know that they’ve been “saved from the gallows” – and I think they give me that little extra care, and love, and attention, in return. Right now – I have two cats and two dogs. The cats are cats – one a loving lap cat – the other a temperamental diva. One of the dogs is a high spirited Westie – that I sort of inherited. He loves to chase any wildlife that comes into my yard – especially a raccoon that might be twice his size. He’s fearless – and spends a significant portion of his life – in the bathtub – getting black swamp mud washed off him – from chasing some animal. He goes to the office a few times a week. He is just very cute.
The other is Frisky. I’ve always liked big dogs – really, really big dogs. And after my two very old labs died – I started regular visits to the SPCAs and the Animal Cares Center – commonly referred to as “the pound .”I was looking for another big old dog, or two .And way down in the very last cage of “the pound” – was a little old Rat Terrier – sort of like a Jack Russell. He was really old, and not very responsive. I noticed that he had been there for 4 months – and I figured his days were numbered. But he wasn’t what I was looking for.
About every 3 days I paid “the pound” a visit. One day it dawned on me – that I was going to visit the old Rat Terrier first – and then going to look for “my new dog. ”Another day it dawned on me – that the Rat Terrier – “Frisky” had found me. I took him to “the get to know you room. ”He didn’t bite – or growl, or exhibit any bad behavior – so I took him home. I did not know that he was totally deaf. I also did not know – that he could barely see – until we got home – and I watched him run into things, and fall down steps. I took him to the vet to have him checked out. He had things wrong with him that I’d never heard of – resulting in a slew of nice expensive pills – every day.
Frisky lives on. I’ve had him about 3 years. He can’t get up and down the steps any more – so he has to be carried – and I have a lot of steps. He sleeps on my bed – so he won’t get into trouble during the night. He wakes me up in the middle of the night by licking my face – to let me know that he has to go outside .I put on some clothes – carry him down the 17 steps to the 1st floor – then outside – and down 5 more steps to the ground. He does his business – and we reverse the whole thing – and crawl back into the nice warm bed.
About a month ago – I had a serious conversation with Frisky – a totally deaf dog that may not even know what I look like. I told Frisky – that I wasn’t sure I could keep carrying him up and down the steps – and outside – in the middle of the night – especially with winter coming. I told him about some options that I’d been considering – the best of which was back to the pound.
Thank God Frisky could not hear a word I was saying . When I got back in bed – with him curled up next to me – I knew I never could do any of those things. I had adopted him. Nobody forced him on me. He is my responsibility – and I will do everything in my power to give him the best life possible – for as long as I can – or as long as he lives. That’s just the way it is – and just the way it’s going to be. And I wouldn’t want anything else for Frisky – or for me.
That’s what I think this is all about. And in its own strange way – it’s a truly wonderful blessing – human and pet – bonded to care for each other – with all the love and affection that we can muster.