Two of our pets were strays in search of a home and one was a treasure found on Craigslist by a kid in need. Maybe it’s hyperbole to say they saved our lives, but it isn’t to say that they enriched our lives in times of need.
Freddie, our rescue dog from South Suburban Animal Shelter, has been my furry, all-things rehab dog and is a daily reminder of my husband’s generosity.
The man is allergic to everything, and he has asthma. He didn’t have much choice with the cats because I had one when we met. She was there first, had been in my life seven years, and she wasn’t going anywhere.
But adding a dog to the mix was most definitely optional. Several years ago, we tried to include a puppy, but sneezing turned to asthma, and we had to find a new home for him. It took about two hours, by the way. When he and the woman saw each other it was like long lost love. I am, of course, talking about the dog and not my husband.
Last summer, my husband looked at me and said, “It’s time.” He commutes to Normal, IL and lives down there several days a week. I was pretty much a ball of anxiety last summer, which was left in the wake of cancer and is simply one of the bonus packages you get with me.
My daughter and I went to the shelter that day, walked in, saw Freddie, aka King Midas, and decided he was ours. It took my husband several days to accept that anyone had ever named the dog King Midas. “Don’t they know that Midas came to no good? It’s not a good thing to be able to turn things to gold. Didn’t they understand the story?”
We were never able to explain Freddie’s unfortunate original name to him. I keep thinking that most of America probably thinks the Midas touch is a good thing, what with the gold and the muffler shop and everything.
In any case, Freddie has been gold for me. He is pure love and pure joy. Everything that life brings him, tummy rubs, walks, rawhide, kibble, a ride in the car, snow, me coming down the stairs is exciting. All of it. What a reminder that is for me.
He actually chases his tail and does the full on, tongue hanging out panting when he sees me. Last Fall when I was walking him six or seven times a day, I started gathering acorns. Freddie joined in. I would stop to pick up some acorns and Freddie would drop some into my hands. He was my shadow.
And now that I’m recovering from knee surgery and not quite back to walking a wiggly dog, he is my husband’s shadow.
When the ice and snow are gone and my knee is stronger, Freddie and I going to be pounding the pavements again, finding joy in the smells and sights of our neighborhood.
Meanwhile, in Feline-a-stan, what we’ve renamed the upstairs since Freddie joined our little household, two cats stand sentinel to make sure no canine trespasses into their uneasily shared territory. Serrafeena, the elder cat, was a stray that we rescued from students living in a dorm. The head maintenance guy called me one day to say he couldn’t keep pretending that he didn’t see the little thing in their apartment and that he was going to have to enforce the rule. He got us in touch, and it’s been love ever since.
She joined us a few months after my cat died at the age of 19. I’m not sure I would have sought out another cat, given my husband’s allergies and the grief of losing the 19-year-old, but she is now our eldest, and the ruler of all things.
And then there’s Drusilla, the younger cat, sought like treasure by my daughter when she was 13 and we just moved to Chicago. We told my daughter that she could have a kitten and she found a litter on Craigslist that was going to be ready just as we were going to be able to have a place for her.
The love of that kitten, her endearing shadowing of the older cat who despised her, the playfulness and cuddling, helped carry my daughter over a lonely and challenging transition to a new town.
Even as a young adult, this cat celebrates play. Every morning about 5 or so, she drags her favorite toy, a fishing line with a little mouse on it, up onto my bed and drops it on my pillow. She drops it in front of me when I’m brushing my teeth or when I’m getting ready to leave the house. The reward is watching a cat perform Olympic quality flips and jumps, expressions of pure joy as she hurtles through the air.
These creatures remind us of the need to nurture, of the joy in play and discovery, of the pleasure of physical contact. They live in the moment and draw us there. They give love without effort. They adore us with generosity.
So, I write this in gratitude. I’m so grateful to have this love in my life. And, I’ll leave you with the dog’s namesake peforming “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Ready Freddie?
This post is part of a year-long series about my New Year’s resolution. All in the series are included in the Resolution Chronicles category below. This is the first post that explains my resolution.
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