Empress Alice lets loose a string of dog obscenities as she thunders through the dining room to the kitchen sliding window. It seems the neighbors had the audacity to get their airstream trailer stuck on the driveway again. The glint off the aluminum alerted her, then there were the odd lights flashing and voices barely audible through the shuttered windows.
We don’t live close to our neighbors, so the smallest infraction in Empress Alice’s keen oversight of her kingdom is always greeted with alarm. She is in charge of all the realm. The birds, the bees, the humans who dare to intrude on her turf without proper clearance or an appointment.
But tonight, when I came home emotionally drained, when all I wanted to do was cook myself a good dinner, crawl into my PJs and call it a day, she insisted on racing through the house with the blue octopus in her mouth, declaring it a Shar Pei holiday that never made it to my calendar. She is funny, irreverent and full of life at the moment, instead of life as I am currently viewing it.
So when she acts out of sorts, I have to take careful notice. She ignored breakfast the last few days. It is a bothersome break in our routine. Her nose seems more snuffly than usual. Pollen? The weather has rocketed to almost 80°, then plummeted to high 40s° and rainy. I’m gone more than I have been for the last 18 months. A year ago I was here writing every day, all day. Perhaps she is stressed over this change.
I have populated my life with five pets. Their personalities and secret lives, their social interactions and hierarchy must change with the patterns of my life. I know that I provide a life far superior to what they knew before and must console myself that they are intrinsically happy. No matter that they are domesticated and humans have changed their basic life patterns to match our own.
I have been blessed to share my life with many four-footed beings. The current crowd represents many different phases of my life: Belle from the farm in Lunenburg, Night from Hanni’s eventing years, Choco from Han and I filling the gap of lost dogs, Skeedles from Hanni and I living through her high school years, Alice from my road to redemption and Dahlia from my life of hospice for those who are passing on daily.
Animals, pets, in our society, represent a huge chunk of who we are and how we live. I hope never to be the little old person who drives with my fluffy, yapping dog on my lap through town. Please pull the proverbial plug if I become the “weird CAT lady,” and no, I am not her yet!!
The sobering fact is that as we age, our pets become more of a comfort, as well as a source of concern. I have started volunteering for a new segment of hospice that is a fund specifically set up to care for pets of hospice patients. The service is “Pet Peace of Mind,” funded through the Banfield Charitable Trust. Our local hospice qualified for a grant to service clients and the results are heart-warming. People who are in crisis are often torn between providing total care for a dying family member and taking the dog to the vet or having enough food and cat litter.
I have worked the periphery of this project and now we are finally ready to “go live.” Coincidentally, the woman who produced the New Hampshire Chronicle spot for the store, was in today. I told her about the idea and she is very interested.
Perhaps, I should just run through the house with the blue octopus and recognize the unknown holiday that brings connections to life…