Whether you’re a cat or a dog person, you have experienced some of the most profound love there is this side of heaven.
Like our kids when they are young, our pets depend on us for nearly everything, dogs more so than cats. The feline, when pushed, can fend for himself, nabbing the occasional rodent or bird. But our canine companions look much more intently to us for sustenance in the form of food and emotion.
Is it because dogs have eyebrows to define expression? Is it their devotion? Perhaps it’s the deep look into their beloved owner’s eyes or the tail wagging, wiggling party when she arrives home. Whatever it is, there is a bond between owners and their fur babies that goes beyond description.
Yes, cats may be aloof, especially when ‘another’ human is in their house. What cat owner will not attest to their feline’s true ardour, curling up on a lap or rubbing with affection in circle eights around ankles? Perhaps a cat’s affection is more subtle, but that does not make it untrue.
My little Yorkie, Milo, came down with a nasty gastro-intestinal bug a few days ago. Usually ‘five pounds of fun’, he quickly turned into four pounds nine of very lethargic, sickly little man in the blink of an eye. Granted, animals cannot talk, but for vets to accost such a little man with probes and needle-sticks just seems to add insult to injury. The financial toll added up as quickly as the emotional drain on me, his human mom. I found myself trying to control my temper, wondering why the vet could not take one step at a time as she worked to rule out ailments and illnesses.
It took my frazzled, frayed, but cooler head to ask her to slow down. The blood work took only ten minutes to come back from the onsite lab, ruling out the horrid disease she had at first suspected. The vet wanted to do xrays, I.V. and hospitalization from the get-go even before blood testing was back. Not only would this have set us back one thousand dollars, it would have meant leaving our already frightened little man with people he doesn’t know in a place he’d never been. Not ideal atmosphere for recovery when careful administration of medications at home could have met the vet’s prescription for his health just as well, without the stress of what would surely seem abandonment to Milo.
Is there bedside manner taught in veterinarian school? One wonders.
One day later, Milo was keeping down his bland diet of chicken and rice (he hated the canned prescription diet) evidently to spite the vet who had reticently okayed it as homemade supplement. Giving him a prescription liquid suspension via tiny plunger tube (looks like an injection syringe without the needle) elicited a punitive canine scowl accompanied by smacking and tongue juts, but Milo was a trooper through it all. Implicit, complete trust.
By day two he was barking at backyard squirrels and by the evening, playing around with his rope bone, flinging it into the air, watching it bounce and pouncing on it, only to repeat the playful dance. The vice that crushed my heart loosened over the hours to a dull ache as I watched my precious little man revive.
It is wisely said that grief is the price we pay for love. Our canines and cats have too-short lives with us, so by definition, we will experience their loss. The agony of it brings tears at the mere thought. But to try to imagine my life without this little character blessing me dozens of times a day as he brings smiles and laughter? How impoverished my house would be without his little collar bell tinkling as reminder that he follows my steps, looking to me for love and giving it back one hundred times over. Precious does not begin to describe.