Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unconditional Companionship

Many of my friends know that I am an animal lover. In the great cat person vs dog lover debate, my position has been primarily decided by the constraints of apartment living. I always figured that if I had a dog, he would be a large, protective breed requiring backyard running-around-space; this just hasn't been my reality for the past several years. And although my parents at one time bred Yorkshire Terriers in their condo, I can't really see myself with a smaller dog.

That being said, my husband and I actually do own a large dog, a McNab Shepherd named Patches. She was my mother-in-law's dog, and worked faithfully on the farm before I lost both of my parents-in-law prematurely to an act of unspeakable violence. When we traveled up to Oregon to start the long and arduous journey of picking up the pieces of their murder, Patches became my refuge. When I couldn't take the thoughts I was having inside the house (the location of my mother-in-law's murder), I escaped to the porch and called for the dog. Patches, despite her size, would come and clumsily crawl into my lap. There was no way I was leaving the farm without her.

Unfortunately, though, there was also no way I was sharing our tiny apartment with her. I knew that Patches would not thrive without wide open spaces, especially after living on a farm since puppyhood. It was no small blessing, then, when my husband's boss offered to take care of Patches until we were able to purchase a house.

And so, my dog lives about an hour away from me. Her worth is unmeasurable in part because she was raised by someone who is no longer with me. I can't wait to get Patches back.

It's not that our lives are devoid of animals, though. In fact, I am concerned that I will be classified as a crazy cat lady before my 35th birthday. In our small, 1000-square-foot apartment, we have three cats: a Bombay mix, a Russian Blue mix, and something that can only be classified as beautiful. I think I have finally managed to capture the softness and loveliness of Mumtaz's coat on camera:

 Mumtaz grooms her coat almost constantly during waking hours - but it pays off in softness

She is an amazing creature to me. The lone survivor of a coyote attack on her mother and siblings, Mumtaz has earned her name - which means "excellent" in Arabic. I am so thankful for this fighter, survivor, and sweetheart and all she represents to me.

Yes, I just wrote an entire blog post about pets. But you see, every day I am reminded of how wonderful it is that we live in a world in which creatures of different species can be companions and loving friends. Even when they get on my nerves (as they do when they make their beds in freshly laundered, unfolded, unattended sheets), I still don't know how I'd manage without them.

Poe, our Russian Blue, looks up from her bed of unattended sheets

1 comment:

  1. This was a beautiful post! I am an avid animal lover too, so I deeply appreciate everything that you are saying about Patches and your cat. They give us comfort when people turn their backs and listen no matter how screwed up we are inside and out. Animals are remarkable companions, who should be treated with dignity and respect.