But, it’s not just my familiar bed that beckons me back. No, it’s the warm greeting I receive from those who await me: my pets!
Last Saturday, as we were making were way home, my phone rang. It was my son:
“Mom,” he said, “The weirdest thing…the dogs won’t come home!”
Now, let me give you the back-story:
My two dogs, Chili and Scout, are usually home whenever I’m home. When I leave for work each morning, they immediately head to Grandmom’s just up the driveway toward the road from me, where they spend most of the day. MIL spoils them, letting them in and out of her house and providing treats.
Friday, when I went to pick up MIL and Aunt E, I just parked my car there, and we took MIL’s car. According to Son, the dogs never moved, and he could not entice them home to eat—he eventually fed and watered them there. He was amused at the fact that they would not budge from where my car was, thinking they had reasoned that it is place to which I would come back! (So smart, they are!)
On our return, the dogs were ecstatic! Never has any being been so welcoming to another! Chili dutifully followed me home and spent the night beside my bed. Little Scout had her share of my petting and opted to spend the night with MIL and Aunt E. If I know her at all, she ended up stretched out on Grandmom’s couch in the night!
This reminds me of another welcome I received, unexpected, which made it even nicer:
Probably eight years or so ago, being strapped for cash at the time and fretting over my husband’s Christmas gift, it came to me! At the time we had been “kitty-less” for some time, a fact that my husband had often bemoaned. So, I determined to get him a cat from the local animal shelter and a promise to help with the litter box.
My in-laws were enlisted in the project, and the two of them took off to the animal shelter. I got a phone call: “C, there’s a wonderful little grey brindle female,” MIL said (just what I had ordered!), “but there is a most handsome male red kitty who is just playing up a storm with her. I think you need them both.” (See what a bad influence she is…)
I authorized the adoption of them both, and the Christmas surprise that year was one of the best. This is how “Miss Kitty” and “Red” came to be part of our family.
Sad to admit, we fell down on our obligation to Miss Kitty, and she found herself “in trouble,” obviously having taken up with the tomcat across the creek. She delivered six kittens and was just the best mother. We gave away two, but were left with four of the litter. All six cats lived in relative happiness on our wide back porches, protected from the world by our backyard fence. (And we learned our lesson—everyone was neutered!).
Living in the country is hard on kitties and, one-by-one, these kitties just failed to show up for dinner. Clearly, they were venturing out of their haven for excitement and finding more than they bargained for. Here is my late father-in-law with one of the litter, who was soon thereafter to disappear.
There was, however, one exception. Sasha is a shy type, running from strangers and children, which is surprising since I know she has never been mistreated. But maybe it was this tendency toward standoffishness that had kept her alive the longest, our only remaining cat—natural selection in full view.
And Sasha’s shyness is conflicted. You can see her “wishing” to be petted and held but just not quite able to bring herself to be the lap kitty.
So, for the past three years, Sasha has lived a quiet life on the back porch. This, and the large, fenced back yard, is her domain, and I don’t think it’s half bad for a kitty. She has her soft little kitty bed, which is boxed against the wind and plumped with additional bedding in the winter. She has a good life.
Most humans seem scary to her, and even with me it takes coaxing for her to finally come, purring and smiling, for attention. She does not come in the house. When we bring her in, she is so uncomfortable that she goes back to the door, asking to go back outside.
While I was gone on the cruise in February, my son saw that she got her regular meals. But, being who she is, she was unable to get any attention whatsoever. It must have been this missing element that brought about my sweet surprise.
Our back porch wraps around my house, with the far “L” portion being just outside my bedroom. We have screened it in, but I seldom make use of it now, and the screen door stays ajar. I believe Sasha considers it her territory, and is in and out of the screened portion.
About midnight I was awakened by a bumping and scratching sound at my bedroom’s back door. Weird! I rubbed my eyes and sat up in the bed to listen again. I noticed that it was accompanied by soft meowing!
I got up and stumbled to the door. It was Sasha. She darted away from me to the other side of the screened porch, but she arched her back and rubbed back and forth against the leg of the chair, obviously wanting attention but not knowing how to really ask for it. I approached; she skittered away. Remember, I was half asleep—I took myself back to bed. The sounds had all stopped; I snoozed away.
At about 2 a.m. the process started again. This time when I opened the door, Sasha strolled right in, meowing, tail up. I bent down. Not only was I able to hold and pet her, but she returned the affection, lifting her little face and rubbing against my cheek. It was the sweetest thing! I carried her back to bed with me, and she—to my utter amazement—settled right down against me purring, and I fell back asleep.
Sasha did not stay the rest of the night. After only an hour or so, I found myself stumbling, yet again, to the door to let her back out. But the broken sleep was so worth it!! I do believe I was missed by this cat! She has not repeated this door-knocking.
So, just indulge me, here: I believe our animals consciously care for us and await our return. Do you? C