Unconditional love and my pets are synonymous. During my adult life, I’ve had four pets: three dogs and one cat. Each pet loved me in their own special way, and here’s how!
My First Dog, Windy
Meet Windy! My first husband’s grandmother raised miniature poodles, so she gave us Windy as a puppy—a black-haired ten-pound ball of energy. Really, that’s the reason she gave him to us; he was too much for her to handle. What a joy he was to us, and no, he was not a “yappy poodle.”
When my husband and I divorced, we each made a list of what possessions we wanted, prioritizing them. Windy topped my list; my husband wanted our water bed as his first choice.
Windy lived seventeen years. I made the choice to put him to sleep because he had become senile and couldn’t control his bowels anymore. Mom went with me when I took him to the vet. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’s buried in the backyard in Branson.
His constant companionship supported me through the rocky years after my first divorce, providing unconditional love. You know dog spelled backwards is God, and that’s no accident!
My Second Dog, Patches
While I had Windy, my second husband and I rescued an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix puppy who had one blue eye and one brown. When we got Patches, ticks covered his body, so we had our work cut out for us.
I remember a funny experience with him. Even as a pup, Patches exhibited his natural herding instinct. We had a big backyard in our home, and one afternoon, he herded Windy and a friend’s Great Pyrenees clear to the back of the yard. We watched him do the work systemically. He didn’t care he was a third the size of the Great Pyrenees!
At the end of his life, Patches faced many cancerous tumors, and we agreed to spend the money to treat him, no matter the cost. He died in April 2003 in our living room between us. I cut a piece of his multi-colored fur and still have it stashed away in an envelope in my desk. What a gorgeous dog he was!
Patches needed very little care, being an outside dog, but his loving spirit always touched me as he raced to greet me! Again, an example of unconditional love!
My Third Dog, Kita
We waited until November 2003 to look for another dog because we had a big square dance festival commitment for Labor Day that required lots of travel during that summer. After several visits to the Humane Society, we had identified three dogs as our future possible pet, but we ended up with Kita, who was supposed to be an Akita/Chow mix.
On our last visit, a volunteer noticed a yappy puppy had caught our eye and redirected us to Kita. She said, “That puppy will drive you crazy. Look at this quiet one.”
Kita laid silent and almost blended into the concrete with his coloring. With big solemn eyes, he just looked at us. We took him outside to see how he would be with us, and he attacked a leaf and entertained himself easily, so we went home with our new pet.
As Kita grew, we realized he had been mis-classified. On a trip to the wolf sanctuary in southeastern Colorado, they confirmed our suspicions. Kita was a wolf hybrid. We became aware afterwards that the Humane Society couldn’t identify him as a wolf. We took him to another wolf sanctuary in New Mexico and they agreed with the other one—we had a wolf on our hands.
Losing Kita in the divorce devastated me, but I couldn’t manage him, so I let him go. Yet I yearned for a pet.
Kita’s wild nature kept me at a distance some, but his unconditional love oozed out as he almost knocked me over with his hearty greeting.
My cat, Jesse
After my divorce, my life took a major change from having dogs my adult life to having a cat. What a life transformation!
When my ex-husband and I divorced in 2008, I couldn’t take our Kita. For the first time in my adult life, I faced life pet less, which I didn’t like. As soon as I talked about the prospect of getting a new pet, a pro-cat colleague encouraged me to get a cat, but I had never had one. She reminded me anytime I mentioned buying a dog that a cat was a better choice.
One day away from my office at a staff training, my phone rang, and my pro-cat coworker exclaimed, “I found your cat. He’s a stray. I’ve fed him outside our office. Come and see him.” So, I drove to the office and met her outside. A filthy Siamese Silver Tip cat hedged his way around us. Skeptically, he kept his distance and meowed his Siamese yowl.
“I heard him crying last night when I left the office after a training I facilitated,” I told her. It felt eerie in the dark.
“Take him home tonight!” she directed.
I refused and went home but dreamed of cats all night, so the next day she helped me gather all the cat supplies I needed and I took him home. When I scrutinized Jesse, my new pet, after a quick clean-up, he looked much better than the day before, which made me realize he probably belonged to someone.
So, I took him to a vet to see if he had a chip—he did. Then, the vet called the owners, and they turned him over to me. When I talked to them, they identified Jesse’s vet, so I had access to his total history. The vet told me Jesse’s age: he was six years old when I found him.
When I first got Jesse, he was not a “lap” cat. He kept his distance but seemed to appreciate our shared home. I quickly adjusted to having a cat, and I realized leaving him was far easier than a dog. When my Mom and I went on an extended trip to California in 2010, a colleague’s son watched him. I called home every few days and talked to him through the answering machine. Mom thought I was whacked, but I knew he’d recognize my voice and not be so lonely.
In 2012, I had shoulder surgery and Jesse instinctually knew I needed extra care and often sat in my lap. Now we both enjoy our nightly ritual.
Jesse absolutely loves Lin and responds to him with a big meow anytime Lin comes into a room. A couple years ago, Lin and Jesse started a morning ritual: meowing back and forth like they actually understood each other. I laughed at the connection they have made.
I’ve had Jesse now for eleven years, so he’s eighteen. In human years, he is 88 years old, a very Senior cat.
In 2016, Jesse got really sick, and I found out he had feline diabetes. At first, we managed the diabetes with special food, but that didn’t work. So, we added insulin and have increased the doses over the years. I now give him shots twice a day.
Now my husband and I laugh about Jesse being senile. He sleeps most of the day, searches for that shaft of sunlight to warm his aching bones, and meows often for food or just to let us know he is still kicking. Another part of being a senior cat, Jesse can’t hear very well anymore, which surprised us because he used to have amazing hearing.
Jesse loves to join us nightly on the arm of the loveseat. First, he perches there, then he moves to my lap to spend the rest of the evening. I love his rhythmic purr, a wiggle up closer and a contented sleep—total unconditional love!
I celebrate the unconditional love my pets have given me over the years and thank God for his furry angels!
Are you a pet person? Which do you have, a dog or a cat? Why?
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