The invisible dog

When I was younger and lived at home, my mother decided we weren’t going to have pets, even though my father begged her for a dog. Her theory was that she would end up taking care of it, and she had enough to do with her two children and her husband. I do remember two instances where we “sort of” had pets. Once when I was real little, we had a goldfish bowl. Somehow in my fuzzy memory they got fed tobacco from one of my mother’s cigarettes, and floated belly up soon thereafter. The next fuzzy memory is of my father coming home with a parakeet. He either won it in a poker game (that’s how we got our electrolux) or it was an impulse buy. Either way, when it got out of the cage and flew into my mother’s 60’s updo hairdo, that was the end of the bird. When I married, my husband sensed my sense of loss of something (independence I think), and he got me a kitten. My first bona fide pet. Her name was Purr, and I pet the poor thing so vigorously she thought she was getting beaten, until I understood the subtleties of petting. She was soon joined by Scrunch, a black pregnant stray. Those two cats were my lovies, and they both lived long lives. During their lives with us we moved many times, and they felt safe with us during each move. They both lived into their teens. We next found a cat while camping at Keuka Lake, New York State. After finding out from the park ranger that she was a stray, the husband attracted her to our tent with little bits of cold cuts speared on pieces of sticks and grass all the way to our campsite. Home she came with us, in two laundry baskets, one upended on the other. She was all white, with a smudged number 7 on her forehead and David Bowie eyes. Keuka quickly became my husband’s cat, but she also loved me as well. When I was sick with cancer, and home between chemo sessions she would curl up to me, and lick my bald head, curing me all the quicker. She too lived a long life. Now we have Miss Kitty. She is the first cat we ever rescued from a pound. She was languishing in a small cage for 9 months before we came along. We weren’t the first to adopt her, as she was brought back twice. The shelter wanted to make sure we made the right choice and kept saying “are you sure you want her?”. We took her home, and she is our “favorite kitty from the pound”. She has been with us for 11 years now. As she ages, I have been thinking about my next pet. I want a dog, I think. I think a dog will save my life on many levels. One, on the exercise level. I am a devoted pet owner and will do anything for my animal. I need exercise desperately, and a dog will make me obligated to do so. Two, as I get older, I may need a service dog. While one can’t predict what will happen in the future, I have been told that I have the beginnings of dry macular degeneration. With that in mind I would love to be able to train a dog in such a way that it would love to help me out. We’ll see.

In the meantime when I go on my morning walks, I pretend to be going out to walk the invisible dog, mainly to allay my husband’s fears of “you’ll never walk the dog, and that means I’ll have to.”

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