Canis lupus familiaris can always be found at my house. I am a huge lover of the gray wolf subspecies. Did you know that dogs were the first domesticated animal? Okay, but did you know that “dog” often refers to the male of the species, while “bitch” refers to the female?
Okay, enough Wikipedia for the night. Sorry about that.
There have been few times in my life where there wasn’t a dog at my side. Those times involved college, living in an apartment, and lack of funds for anything more than ramen noodles.
When I bought my house in 1990 (I was four), one of the first things I did was run down to the Humane Society and peruse the pups. One caught my eye and knew it. She looked into my eyes and softly bayed as only a husky can do. I apparently inherently knew Huskinese already, because I could tall she was telling me that she would give me 13 fantastic, love-filled years. We would have 13 years of camping, running around with sticks, and just lying in the living room watching movies.
While my second dog came to me as a runt of a litter of Chow Chows, she also brought me much joy. The three of us, and whomever boyfriend happened to be living with us at the time, were family with a bond no one would dare break. Except for the boyfriends.
While Priscilla and Xena are now but fond memories, Vixen (another Humane Society rescue) is sitting by me as I write this. Truthfully, she is afraid of the impending storm that she knows will have her cowering at my feet, but I like to think she just kinda likes me.
And now there’s Sandy. The feline. Felis silvestris catus. Mouse and fly hunter extraordinaire. Did you know domestic cats are descended from African wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) c. 8000 BCE, in the Middle East?
I never thought I was a cat person. Frankly, I’m allergic to most of them. But not this one. Nor Spike and Brandy as I was growing up.
But Sandy is not like those cats that look down their nose at you and allow you, hesitantly, to fulfill their every need. She’s not one of those that hides until she wants something.
No, Sandy is a lover. She loves to lie next to me, legs hanging off the desk and face up against a stack of papers I will eventually get to (or throw away), while I work. She is more like a dog than a cat, in that she loves to be touched and manhandled. She even fetches. Rubber bands. Where she finds them, I don’t know.
But the topic of this rambling column is that I have collected two- and four-legged family members for as long as I can remember. The greatest feeling, however, is when I have rescued this family member from certain death. You see, Priscilla was four weeks past her “drop dead” date. But the people at the Human Society knew she would be a right fit in someone’s family. They were just waiting for me to wander on in. Even Xena was destined for the shelter, as the family who had her was leaving town. Sandy? She has three pages of notes detailing the measures the Utah Humane Society took to keep her alive. Today, she is a healthy, happy addition to our family. Now if she would just be less finicky over what she is fed. Ugh.
An animal in your life pays you back in spades for taking care of them. A rescued animal in your life pays you back in spades times infinity.
Now that I am done with this final column of the issue, Vixen and I are going to go get prepared to go camping. There is nothing she would rather do, with me. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. Q