Pet Talk

12 years ago

By Cathy Davis
    My house is built on the side of a hill and the driveway is in the back so when we come in, we’re in the basement level. There is a finished room and then you go upstairs to the rest of the house and when you are walking up the stairs you are walking into the kitchen. As my father says, there are 14 stairs, every morning, every night, 14 stairs, it never changes. Yet Scruffy, in his eagerness to catapult himself up those stairs, always seems to think there are 13 and he’ll trip on at least one of them, going 100 miles an hour. It’s a wonder he doesn’t break a leg.  Some day he’ll slow down.
    At the top of the stairs is a pile of dog toys, all sitting in front of the kitchen table in a little circle where Scruffy carried them from his toy box and laid them down. I’m not sure if he plays with them during the day or if he just takes great delight in emptying his toy box on a daily basis. He kind of reminds me of my son, when he was an infant, and would throw his toy dog out of his crib 100 times and I would put it back 100 times. It was a game and we both enjoyed it. With Scruffy, I think it’s a game too.
    When I’m vacuuming, which is frequently when you have three cats, two of which are long haired, and a dog who sheds like crazy, I’ll pick up his toys and throw them in his box and right behind my back he goes into that box and starts taking the toys out and placing them strategically on the floor, one here, one there. I turn around and there they all are, the little bear whose stuffing was long ago ripped out and left all over the living room floor, the pink snake with missing eyes, the green nylabone that has been chewed to a nub, the remains of a bunny, just arms and legs now, nothing much left.
    Yes, Scruffy is spoiled, he has an entire box of toys and every time I come home from a store with bags Scruffy is sitting at my feet waiting expectantly for another. He knows them by name and if you say “go get your bear” he’ll come back with a bear. He likes to rip them up and play tug of war with them. He loves it if you throw one down the hall so he can chase it.
    If you have pets, you know exactly what I mean. Your pets probably sleep on your bed, or at least in your room. They have their own bowls, their own toys, their own favorite place to curl up when the rays of sun pour into your windows. They may love your lap or they may be independent and just walk by with tail in the air expecting you to wait on them hand and foot (which would likely be your cat, not your dog!!!) but they are a part of your family.
    Imagine our dismay at the shelter when animals come in that have been tied outdoors all their lives, or allowed to breed until there are so many they are all sick and malnourished and infested with fleas, or are old and can barely walk and have lost their will to live.
    We have a small staff at the shelter — a full time director and several part time assistants who have the biggest hearts of any group of people I’ve ever met. When these cases come in their hearts break and they work really hard to make sure that each of these animals has a fair chance at full recovery and a new home.
    It doesn’t always work out that way. When an old dog came into the shelter with multiple health issues, the entire staff worked around the clock to keep him warm, fed, loved, comfortable and medicated as needed. He had pillows, blankets, the girls would take turns sitting with him, his head in their laps, just petting him and hugging him so he would garner up the strength to hold on and get well. But it wasn’t to be, and he passed away. The only thing that helps us get through times like this is knowing that he left this world feeling loved and protected, something we don’t believe he knew in the years before he came to the shelter.
    If you think that animals don’t know anything, just take a look in your dogs eyes the next time you talk to him, watch him cock his head a little to the right as he ponders the question “where’s your bear” study the way he carries himself when he’s excited or sad.  How can an animal that has no “feelings” even be excited or sad? If you have ever gone away for a few days and then come home and watched your dog turn himself inside out with excitement, how can you say he doesn’t feel emotions?
    These animals that come to the shelter are accepted with care, treated with dignity, examined with tenderness and respect.  Their interests are considered first whenever an adopter comes along, and if there are multiple adopters, it isn’t “first come first serve”, it’s the family that fits the pet’s needs the best.
    That’s what we do, that’s who we are. And the only way we can continue is with your help. You are our partners in everything we do and we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your financial and moral support.  Have a great week.