I have a special fondness for the meanest dog in my apartment building. She’s a little gray thing and looks like a shaved Shih Tzu. However, she growls if I get near her. If I find myself on the elevator with this dog and her owners, I make a point to stand far away from them. At first her owners seemed embarrassed by her behavior. They assured me they were trying to socialize her. I’ve learned over time that this dog was found wandering alone in a canyon, starving. I’ve told her owners how much I admire them for adopting her. Dogs that snarl and growl are often euthanized in shelters because they’re considered unadoptable. I feel sad about the Growler’s previous life, but happy that two loving people took her in. It’s not her fault she was neglected and learned to fear people. I know, despite her growling, that she’s still a good dog.
I woke up one morning during the 2018 holidays and went about my morning chores. This includes scooping my litter boxes and carrying the waste in a plastic bag to the garbage shoot in my condo’s building. On my way there, I saw that a neighbor’s dog had had an accident on the walkway. I stepped carefully around the mess and returned to my apartment ticked off.
I thought about what had just occurred as I continued my morning chores. I realized I was being a jerk and went outside to remove the mess, so none of my other neighbors would have to navigate around it. Once outside I saw that the poop was gone. I felt ashamed of myself for having been angry and judgmental toward my neighbors, who probably just needed a few minutes before cleaning up. But I also was proud of my willingness to do the right thing and take care of the mess myself. This incident reminded me of two important things. First, to always try to do what I believe is right, and second, to be more gracious toward others.
My animals are a constant source of comfort and amusement to me. But sometimes they are annoying. My favorite cat, Simon, underwent a couple of noticeable changes at the age of twelve, after he’d lived with me for four years.
First he became much more affectionate. Previously he liked to be picked up and have his neck scratched for a couple of minutes once a day. That was his routine. For the last several months, he’s begun to sit next to me on the couch and meow loudly until I pet him. He also allows me to pull all twenty pounds of him onto my lap so I can rub his head and chest. This is a delightful surprise.
Not so delightful is his new habit of drinking out of the toilet. The cats drink filtered water that I change daily. But Simon now wants to drink disgusting toilet water and then walk on my hardwood floors, leaving little wet paw prints as he goes. I try to remember to put the toilet seats down, but I often forget.
Everything changes. Simon has two new habits, one that I love and one that’s revolting. Sometimes one more thing seems like too much for me. Between taking care of my myriad health needs and the three cats’ daily requirements I feel I’m at my limit. But I committed to taking care of my animals, so I’m trying to adjust to Simon’s new preference for toilet water.
When I asked a colleague about his plans for the three-day Christmas weekend, he replied that he’d be hanging out at home with his cat. I offered to have him over to my place for a meal, but he insisted he’d be happy home alone with the cat. The next day when I called my stepmother to wish her happy holidays, she said she felt exhausted after spending several days with visiting cousins and was too worn out to talk. She added that she was happily watching British mysteries on her computer with her cat. She’d call me the next day.
Cat people get a bad rap. But we love our animals, and they provide comfort and affection in good health and bad. So who cares what anyone else thinks?