Thursday, October 10, 2002

I have to beg indulgence here. I have come to a sad realization and I need to share this if I’m going to be able to carry on. Not all animals like me. No, it’s really true. I see the looks of disbelief, but it’s a fact.
I grew up with cats and dogs. I loved them, and they loved me. I took horseback riding lessons as well, and the horse never tried to throw or bite me. So, I assume he loved me. I mean, c’mon, I was a nice kid. I did step into a hornet’s nest once, and those damn creatures did NOT like me. My foot and various other parts of me were quite bitten up and swollen for days after. Come to think of it, my playmates who were stung also, as a result of my releasing the nasty hornets, didn’t think much of me either for a while. But mostly, I got on just fine with the animal kingdom. I fed potato chip crumbs to the wee little ants I found in the bathroom. I remember calling down a mole hole once, begging for Mr. Mole to come out and visit. I thought St. Francis was cool.
I carried this feeling of good natured symbiosis with most domesticated animals into adult-hood. When my husband and I bought our first house, we bought a cat to go with it. He was our baby, and he ruled the roost, as well as most of the condo complex. I had a great deal worked out with one of my neighbors, that we’d take care of each other’s pets while the other was on vacation. Her animals seemed to like me as well. OK, the fish didn’t have much to say, but at least I didn’t kill them. I did temporarily lose one of her hamsters once, but found him in a Barbie doll house later that evening. Whew! So, my self-image of a sort of Snow White type chick, with all the sweet birds and chipmunks hovering lovingly close by was still intact. Until recently.
I have some good friends who got a dog this last year. A ‘min-pin’ He’s a cute little thing, his name is Jedi, and he hates me. I’ve only met him a few times, but the dog is out to get me. I’m pretty sure he was trying to get into my wallet to see my driver’s license so he could get my home address. I don’t know why Jedi wants me dead, but he does. This astounded and shook me. A dog? Dogs love everyone! All they want is a full belly, time outside to play and do business, an occasional crotch to sniff, and a kind word. I’ll give the pooch credit though, he does treat his family members well. I also know that I’m not the only outsider he’s unfriendly to. I thought though, that I was special. I thought I had a knack for communing with All Creatures Great and Small. And now this.
I managed to shake off this rejection, and took solace in the comfort of a warm cat on my lap for the next month or so. One morning I saw a deer in my back woods. Oh what a moment! I called my youngest son to the window to see the noble animal having a quiet breakfast. I gingerly opened the window and called to Bambi. Not only did he NOT come to my call, but he ran away! I was crushed. We’re still paying off the therapy bills.
The final stab was the other day. I saw my neighbor’s cat outside in front of the bush that borders our property. I’ve known this cat for the 8 years or so that I’ve lived here. He isn’t very friendly, he’s never let me pet him, but I just thought he was shy. Some animals are, and I know cats do live up to their reputations of being aloof. But I thought I was close to a breakthrough. I thought after so many years I’d wear him down by virtue of my sterling personality. That day, I spoke to him in a cheerful, soft manner, and then hopped out of my truck. As I looked to down to continue our one-sided conversation, I saw that he was hiding from me! He had donned some sort of Gulf War camouflage outfit and all I could see were his scared green eyes. I was too emotionally worn down to really cry, so I just trudged inside my house, dragging my sorry ego with me.
So, friends, the next time you catch the scene from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, when Ace is surrounded by the all the animals that had been hiding in his apartment, just think.. That should have been me!
(Dedicated to Salem, gone on to a better place, a cat who really did like me.)