The impact on human life of a pet is known by just about everyone; nothing is more comforting than having a dog greet you at the door.
But I wanted to say a few words about the pet that played an important part in my life: Cordelia.
As a dog, Cordelia had a few shortcomings. She never met me at the door. She never brought me the morning edition of the New York Times. She never had much interest in gnawing endlessly on a bone.
To be quite truthful, by just the minimum standards of dog-lovers, she wasn’t much of a dog.
That’s because she was a cat. (Remarkable how my post, by sheer chance, fit right into ABC Wednesday's topic this week.)
As we enter that stage of life known as “growing older” – which I guess begins at about age 28 :-) - many of us who live alone seek companionship. And a cat is universally acknowledged to be, for many, a possibly soul-satisfying companion.
Understand, I love dogs.
When I was younger, back during the French and Indian War, I enjoyed nothing more than running with my dog, tossing the frisbie to watch the spectacular catches, doing, in short, dog-and-owner stuff.
But now, as my friend Will Shakespeare puts it:
“My way of life is fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf, and that which accompanies old age.”
I have joined that vast demographic known as “sedentary,” which is French for someone who sits a lot and doesn’t do much running and who tosses no frisbies.
And that’s where the cat comes, or came, in.
And once I got used to the basic idea that my new pet was a cat not a dog, she made a fine companion and we got along beautifully.
I just had to accept that she would not be barking with enthusiasm, wagging her tail and leaping about when I returned home. Instead, she was, like, You’re back? That’s good. Forgive me if I curl up here again; I was having a nap.
Folks who do not understand felines say they don’t really feel the emotion of affection for their owners that dogs do. They say cats are independent and don’t really have such needs.
Ah, they could not be more mistaken. How strong was that need?
Let me tell you of the problem I had with her. I kept the bedroom door closed at night; she had the run of the living-room. I figured that way we’d both get a good night’s sleep. As the sun began to come up, and it came up at five am or so at times, she would come to my door with a message:
The child of morning, rosy-fingered dawn, has appeared! Up, up, time to start the day!
And she would loudly, and irritatingly, scratch the bedroom door to accompany the message. And I’d say, Keep your distance. Let me sleep!
Then I read of a device – ah, technology – that you could hang on the door, a device that made a loud, excruciating sound, a sound that could only be heard by feline ears; I, asleep in my trundle bed, would hear nothing.
It worked. From then on, she didn't touch the bedroom door, avoided it like the plague, and I slept uninterruptedly.
But the inventor of that noise-maker device didn’t know about Cordelia; she was not just a beauty, she was smart.
After a month or so she said to herself: Okay, let’s see, I hate that sound. But, thinking it over, it’s just a sound. There’s no danger involved. I’ll just ignore it and scratch away at that dam' door as much as before.
The end result? I gave up.
I kept the door open at night and she came to sleep on my bed. After all, spending the night with a beautiful and intelligent female is something I was usually in favor of, as a matter of principle.
(Submitted also to Sunday Scribblings)