Tag Archives: animals

Waiting Room


Shut your eyes (metaphorically) and imagine hearing several voices…and you are hearing “Joey, I told you to sit down”,  “Brad, you don’t belong there…come over here!”,”Tanya, will you stop…how many times do I have to tell you!”  and other conversations…”So how old is she? She is adorable!”, “How do you get her to sit still..mine is always moving, moving!”.  Any guesses where I am….no I am not at the pediatrician’s office.  I am at the vet, with Paka for her annual exam.  I felt a little strange when the technician said to me “What kind of name is ‘Paka’?  I thought, she probably thinks that I am strange, since my cat’s name (which means cat in Swahili) is not a people name. She asked me if Paka was actually Parker.  Paahka…  that is how it would sound in Massachusetts with the Boston accent.  Go figure.

I love to people watch.  I love to people watch people with their pets.  The veterinarian waiting room is like a incubator for observations of dialogue and behaviors, and many one-sided conversations between the pet parents and their “offspring”.  It’s actually a much friendlier place than my primary care doctor’s waiting room. There’s a lot more eye contact.  I was absolutely fascinated by Brad (who was a pitbull….yeah…Brad the Pit) who couldn’t have cared less about what his mother was asking.  Lily the little white puff barked incessantly and every time her mother told her to quiet down, just barked in response.  It was beyond comical.  When we were finally taken into the exam room, Paka, who I believe was keeping her eyes shut so as to say “I hope this is all a bad dream”, seemed reluctant to come out of her carrying case.  The doctor, who I adore, always asks me the same litany of questions about Paka and her health (any vomiting?), her state of mind (so did she seem angry with you when she rode in the car, and was she particularly vocal?) and inquired whether she seemed bored.  I stated that she vomited when she ate kohlrabi leaves that morning, and that she was rather “indignant” when taken out of her home, and that in fact, she tempers her boredom with periods of long naps and bird watching out the loft windows.  He smiled at me with his amazing smile and seemed happy with my answers.  It’s always the same “dance” but I never mind.

Veterinarians are really special humans who have to develop relationships with both the pet parents and the pets.  They take care of your special friends from cradle to grave. When our twenty year old cat, Lucy, became more and more frail, and it seemed like it was her time to leave us, our vet was compassionate and patient and helped us let her go.  Our family will be forever grateful for his guidance and support.  I baked him cookies.

I am someone who has always loved animals, despite being bitten in the face by a nasty schnauzer named Sonny (Corleone) and scratched by a large gray cat named Molly.  Animals seem to have moved up the ranks from working animals, mousers and beasts of burden, to pampered creatures with people names.  The days of Fluffy and Duke seem behind us, along with people names like Bertha and Ike.  Mittens and King seem so yesterday.  Both my childhood cats were named Charlie (actually Charlie #1 was Charlene but we didn’t know that until the vet confirmed it).  My dog (who came with his name from the rescue, was also Charley (note the ‘Y’).  Personification makes these loving, doting creatures, rise in stature.  There’s a whole industry that is supporting pets. I just saw a television program in which a man was pitching wine for cats.  We have lost our minds for sure.  But when Paka comes and sits next to my FHB and watches television with him (especially the news) we feel comforted that it may be a dog -eat-dog world out there, but it’s a peaceable kingdom in the loft.


Animal Magnetism

Ten cats, one dog, twenty-one turtles, a rat, a rabbit, a snake, two cockatiels, four parakeets,  about a million fish, and one cameleon.  No, there was no ark involved, but there were children who were in need of pet(s).  They, the pets, didn’t all live with me, at the same time, because that would have been just crazy.  I always wanted a pet of some sort.  I was lucky to have an aunt who always had dogs and cats, and for a while, that is where I got my fix.  I didn’t have much luck with fish or turtles (who jumped out of their bowls to their death, which I believe must have had something to do with the plastic palm tree as the only form of stimulation).  I was not the caretaker of the cockatiels as my son decided he had to have them, at age 14, but they did live and die under my roof.  Cats arrived in my  life when I was about 13 after much negotiating with my father.  The first Charlie only lived for three years, but her successor, also Charlie, lived well into her late teens.   When our family was going through some turmoil, my sons asked if we could have a dog.  I always wanted a dog.  The dog, Charley, who came from a shelter,along with his name, lived till 15 1/2.  All the rest of the animals, including the reptiles, were creatures that stayed for a while until it was their time.  Now, my FHB  and I have Paka, which means cat in Swahili, and she is six.  She arrived much to the indignation of our cat, Lucy, who lived to the ripe old age of twenty, and died almost nine months ago, on Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday.

I  have always talked to my animal partners in life.  They generally stare back, sometimes cocking their heads in some sort of empathy-like response.  That always seems sufficient, even when I suspect that they comprehension of the serious nature of my discussions with them, is  limited to their personal hope for something food oriented or at least some pats on their heads or stomachs.  I did not often, or actually never,  reached out to either the rat or chameleon as confidents because I didn’t feel much of a connection, despite knowing that Josh, the rat, was highly intelligent and had markings like a cow and I am very fond of cows.  Humans often pretend to listen when you are attempting  to convey something new, exciting, or something that involves directions (technological or geographic).  You know when they are pretending, because they seem to glaze over or actually turn away and focus on something more stimulating than what you are discussing.  They are often rude.  My animals at least give me eye contact or rub up against me in some sort of comforting and connected fashion.  Yes, I know the goal, once again, is food or pats, but at least we understand one another.  I do find, that their child like ways, specific to cats, is that they will make significant attempts to get my attention, when I don’t pay attention. For Paka this is leaping across the room, at breakneck speed, with a mission of knocking something down or destroying something expensive .  This gets me to shout at her, and we are engaged in an interaction.  I insist that she stop her negative behavior as she sidles up to me and I relent, give her a treat for not shredding the rush on the dining room chairs and we then relax and enjoy a tummy rub. Her, not me.  I am well trained.