Day Twenty-Five: Animal

I believe animals have a spiritual quality about them.  There is a connectedness with animals experienced by many.  I almost feel un-American to admit I am not a Dog Person, but I have been dog bitten three times, and I believe that gives me a pass.  People are crazy about their dogs, and I totally get the companionship dogs offer to some.  My life is too busy and complicated now to have a pet, but if I could, I would choose a cat.  There, I have said it publicly, I am a Cat Person. I connect with cats just as most folks I know connect with dogs.

Yogi, the next door tabby cat, ignored us for years, acting skittish around us.  There was a time, though, when my mother was ill, and after her death, he became my BFF, however briefly.  And what a comfort that was to me.  He waited for me on my front porch and in the driveway.  He appeared magically from nowhere, it seemed, just as I needed a boost.  He would sit on my lap and purr.  He would weave through my legs in the yard.  He would seemingly know when I needed extra love and provide it.  Currently, he ignores me, but I have happy memories when he comforted me and lavished his attention on me.  I am grateful to him for knowing I needed love from him as my mother died.  Yogi actually provided more comfort than most adults did.

One of my very best friends recently died, and I worry about her beautiful white cat, Minnie Pearl. After my friend’s death, I went to her house, and Minnie Pearl sat on my lap and purred, with her tail swishing ever so gracefully.  She was quiet, calm, and reserved (the opposite of my friend), just like always, but I can’t help but be concerned about her.  Do animals grieve?  Do they experience loss and depression the way people do?  Minnie Pearl was extra loving and attentive that day.  I hope she will stay that way. My friend loved her, and they had a special bond.  I am grateful for the relationship they shared.

Barred owls are abundant in my neighborhood, and we hear them hooting frequently to let us know they are around, with only an occasional sighting.   They are mysterious loners, and that is what I love about them.  There is something eerily comforting to me when I hear the distinctive eight hoots of the barred owl.  When my friend Joyce, was dying, a barred owl was my constant companion in my backyard for weeks, even during the day.  He allowed himself to be seen, often appearing right outside my kitchen, close to the house, always hooting his familiar pattern of hoots.  He wasn’t shy about his appearance, and didn’t fly away when I was able to get close to him in the yard.  We did this little dance, and his presence was a spiritual gift to me until Joyce passed away.

I wish I had a magic ball and could explain all of this, but I feel spiritually connected to animals on a regular basis.  I am open to whatever communication they are sharing with me and will readily accept the messages they bring.  I am honored to be able to participate in the animal world this way, as they are wonderful teachers if we would only stop and listen.

-Wanda

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I hurt an animal only once in my life. I’m not sure I even hurt it actually but it was the only time I ever wanted to hurt one.  I was 10 or 11 and was walking my dog around my neighborhood. He was a prissy little Shetland Sheepdog, looked just like a miniature Lassie, and I was so proud that I was mature enough to be able to walk alone with him for blocks. I was responsible.  Just look at my independence!

We turned a corner and a giant black Chow Chow was standing in a yard looking right at us.  Fear ran down the back of head, trickling down my spine, and I turned and started walking fast the other direction but the dog followed us, fast, in pursuit.  He jumped on my dog, attacking, just black fur and giant white teeth.  I yelled and tried to grab my dog out of the snarling mess.  My dog was losing. He was half the size of the Chow and was on his back, but he was fighting like hell. I was terrified.  With all of my might I pulled back my leg and connected in that dog’s ribs.  It didn’t faze it.  I kicked again and again until I could somehow grab my dog and pick him up.  A neighbor boy who was much bigger and much taller ran over and helped.  Finally, we got the Chow to cease his attack and the boy walked me home.  I was shaking and full of tears.  That was mine and my dog’s first fight and the first and last time I ever laid harm on an animal. I didn’t like it one bit and I’ve carried that awful feeling with me for years.

-Jackie

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