As alarms go, I will attest that a nice firm bite to the scalp at 4:08 a.m. is fairly effective. I must have been sleeping more soundly than usual.
Normally, my alarm clock pats me gently on the nose or lovingly laves an eyelid with a rough, salmon-scented tongue. Occasionally, he’s been known to employ stronger measures, such as plastering his little pink pucker smack up against my face until I rise up in self-defense and take a swipe at his sinuous speckled hide — by which time he’s long gone, of course. The scalping this morning was a new twist to his repertoire. I’m not sure I want to go to sleep tonight.
Sam takes his duties seriously and he’s been a martinet for perfect routine since the first week he came to live with us. We needed him desperately.
My husband had been gone two weeks and Bud was already exhibiting some unique behavior. He missed him. That’s totally understandable — so did I. After thirty-three plus years, it’s hard to adjust, you know?
I was trying to handle Ben’s death the best I knew how, but Bud had some issues and was ‘playing out’, if that explains things better? For instance, I would get into the shower in the morning before work. When I got out, all of the bathroom rugs were piled into a pyramid in the living room. The clothes I laid out for work would be scattered throughout the house – upstairs, downstairs . . . but the sweaty clothes I had worn earlier on our walk were laid piece by piece on the unmade bed – not neatly, but there and easily accessible. He managed to do all of this during the 10 minutes I spent in the shower.
Bud did everything he could to keep me home longer and longer each day. I couldn’t stay home – I couldn’t afford it. If I could, I would.
He needed a companion, obviously, and just as obviously, I wasn’t meeting his needs. Friends told me that I shouldn’t take on another responsibility in the midst of early grief, but I’m telling you – it was the first real decision I ever made by myself and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
I went to the Animal Rescue League on 22nd Street here in West Des Moines. I found a gorgeous cat – long white hair, beautiful . . . I didn’t want a dog because after a year in a tiny cage, Bud was just learning who he was and I didn’t want to accidentally get an alpha dog who would take over, know what I mean? I wanted him to have a friend. Since he spent most of his time on the back of the sofa, I thought a cat was the most likely remedy.
I stopped an employee and asked to see the fluffy kitty. She asked, “Why do you want a cat?”
Serious kudos to that woman.
"I’m looking for a companion, a ‘pet’, if you will, for my dog.” I explained the situation. She shook her head and said, “No. Not this cat,” and opened the cage three doors down.
“This cat is better. I shouldn’t say that, but . . .”
I thought she was giving me the hard sell – I could read on his card that ‘Earl’ was there because he tended to ignore the cat box. Eww. Really?
Earl. What the hell kind of name is that for a cat?
Earl was just a year old. He leaped from the open door of his cage directly to my shoulder before she could properly grab him. He nuzzled my neck and perched as high as he could, swiping his head against my cheek. He stole my heart that fast. That. Fast.
Oh. . . This is getting longer than I originally intended - longer than a blog should be. I’ll finish in the morning . . . Sorry! I didn’t realize it would evolve into such an involved tale . . .