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Friday, 25 September 2009

Living with Animals

By Lois Cochran of Guitar Grandma

My daughter and her husband spent the better part of a sweltering weekend installing a wire fence around my vegetable garden to keep the dogs out so that my newly planted seeds would stand a chance of actually growing before being trampled into the ground.

I thanked them profusely and fed them a nice dinner. I’m sure they had better things to do, but they are very generous with their time and talent.

That night Annie, my younger dog, sometimes referred to as "bull in a china closet," apparently chasing some wild intruder (probably a cat), drove straight through the gate, bending it completely out of shape. I wonder that she didn’t break her neck, but I knew nothing about the destruction until the next morning when, looking out to the garden, it seemed to me that something was not quite right. It appeared that some of the posts were crooked and the gate was open. Upon closer inspection, it was clear what had happened.

I called my daughter and told her about the damage. She saw the humor in it and had a good laugh. They’ll repair the damage next weekend. Bless their hearts.

When I mentioned this little episode on Facebook, a couple of people remarked that they were glad they didn’t have to deal with animals in their lives. "See, that’s what you get. I’m so glad I don’t have animals," etc.

This started me thinking about what it is like to live with animals versus what it is like to live with human beings. I have to say that animals win this hands down.

Let’s see. I get no complaints about what I feed them. I don’t have to prepare something different every day; they’re happy to eat the same thing for every meal. Sometimes, I even mix a little of my leftovers into their food and they are completely overjoyed. They never complain if I don’t get home in time to feed them at their regularly scheduled meal time. They simply welcome me home with enthusiasm and smiles and go outside to pee. And then they thank me profusely for feeding them.

Oh, yes. They don’t care what I look like, if my hair is not combed or if my makeup is not freshened. They don’t mind if the bed doesn’t get made or the floors vacuumed. Of, course, they can’t help with the dishes, but they don’t complain if the dishes don’t get done right away.

And, bless them, they never complain if I’m in a bad mood. Rather, they sense when I need to be left alone or if I need a little TLC. A chin on my lap and sympathetic eyes are such a comfort.

Then, too, they never complain. They can be miserable, sicker than a dog, so to speak, and I won’t know it until I see evidence of it in one form or another. I’ve never known a hypochondriacal dog or cat. They hardly flinch when getting a shot from the vet and while they don’t enjoy taking medicine, it can generally be disguised and administered without difficulty.

And they never complain about their lot in life; they have definitely learned the secret of being content (living with me, of course). They don’t care about world affairs or bad drivers or unfriendly clerks or high prices. They just live for the moment and don’t ask for more.

Now, it is true that if I want to travel, I have to make arrangements for their care and that can be problematic and sometimes expensive. But they don’t expect to go everywhere with me and they don’t give me attitude when I return. Instead, I feel like Queen of the Nile when they give me the royal welcome after I’ve been away.

I find animals much easier to live with. How about you?

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I absolutely agree Lois. I have received devotion and love from the many animals I have had in my life. Lovely story!

I was wondering if you have pick up your dog's poop law in your city. We do and I find it hard to believe that all dog owners like going around with rubber gloves, a bag, etc to pickup their dog's litter. Seems the dogs almost own the owners in my mind.

I find animals worth all that it takes to care for them. We’ve lived on and off with dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and birds. Presently, we live with just one cat. I need them in my life. My late and so great dog Val did give me attitude one time when we picked her up from the kennel after a week’s vacation. I thought she’d be so glad to see me jumping and wagging her tail. Instead, she turned her head and let me know she was not pleased.

Hmmm... Animals that never complain? Wonder what that would be like? My Green Amazon parrot, now 37 years old, lets me know what he thinks about everything--the food, the conditions, what I'm wearing, and especially about my frequent absences.

I have no problem picking up my dogs' poop when I walk them and I really appreciate others who do likewise. I've never had a bird, but my daughter has one and it definitely lets her know when something is amiss. But, she loves that bird! I guess you have to be an animal lover to understand. And, particularly, if you live alone, they give comfort and companionship.

I loved my dogs to distraction and basked in the adoration they gave me. Yes, they are good companions and don't argue.

However, my neighbor came over yesterday and informed me that it was going to cost $435 to have her dog's teeth cleaned if there were no extractions to be done. I have seen her through the vet bills of two previous dogs prior to being euthanized. I am no longer yearning for another dog.

We pick up our infant and toddler children's poop so what is so awful about picking up a beloved dog's poop -- or cat's for that matter.

Lois, I must tell you we have a Persian cat who does complain. He gets let's us know when a change in his schedule or routine has upset him, -- like when we go away and some stranger (to him) comes in the house to feed him and clean his litter box. He goes into the powder room and poops in the sink.

But despite his occasional complaints this 9-pound bit of fluff (who looks like a 15-pounder because of all his fur) manages to make us laugh till we cry with the games he plays with us and tricks he plays on us. For example, he will tempt me into chasing him and run round and round from one room to the next, then suddenly change directions and hid, waiting for me to find him. The the game starts anew.

I feel sorry for people who don't like animals. Some say they don't like cats because they are so distant and have a mind of their own. Like any of us don't have a mind of our own? I've been around cats all my 76 years of life and have never found one who didn't have an interesting personality.

Even gold fish I've had have shown personality. I had one fantail in a bowl on a kitchen counter who would shake and shimmy that tail like a teasing stripper when I would come into the kitchen. I was the only one who made eye contact with it and talked talked toit. I also was the one who fed it most of the time. He new me a distinct personality and I knew him in the same way, and he rewarded me with attention he gave no one else.

How much better place the world would be if everyone loved animals. It would indeed by a much kinder and gentler place.

Thanks for your story, Lois.

The vet bills for our last two cats were so high and we were so sad at their death's that we are not getting any more pets. A very sad bottom line.

Well, I do have to admit that cats have a way of letting you know when you have not met their needs or displeased them in some way. And, yes, vet bills can be a determinant, but we have our doctor bills, don't we! And they definitely outpace the vet bills most of the time.

My life would be much less satisfying without my animals - both dogs and cats.

Thanks for your comments!

The complications my dogs cause me are one reason why I have them. I like to say that my dogs keep me human. And, no, I don't like picking up poo...but I like ironing even less! If you value something - a dog, a home-cooked meal, a crisp blouse -- it's worth the effort.

Anyway - funny story!

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