I took 13-year-old Loaner to the vet yesterday for a check of her right eye. It looked milky and teared a lot, and the pupil was enlarged. Seems she has a detached retina, possibly caused by a blow to the head, and nothing can be done about it. I cannot fathom the head trauma, for Loaner is the quietest pussycat I know, sleeps the famous 18 hours a day and ventures out to the backyard as far as the nearest patch of grass. The other possible cause is age, which is more likely. And so her vision on the right will remain blurry.
While I sat in the outer room waiting for Loaner who was having sundry cosmetic things done (they call the nail clipping a pedicure), a truly gigantic pit bull came in with his owner. The big guy was trembling and snuffling as all dogs do when they are taken to the vet. I admired his stately proportions, a solid 120 pounds at least, and spoke to him and offered a hand to sniff before venturing to scratch his head. He licked my hand and before I knew it, had risen and placed his paws on my shoulders. I staggered a bit but assured his owner to leave him be, and the dog and I held a little conference before he settled down again.
The owner told me he had acquired the dog as recently as January. I asked how, and he told me he had found him running scared on the streets, and that there were cigarette burns on him. At this, the usual nauseated rage filled me, as it does when I must look at pictures of abused animals on Animal Petitions.
When they were called inside to the vet, another enormous dog, a Rottweiler, entered with his owner. This was my day to meet canine giants. He too was gorgeous, solid in all quarters and beautifully proportioned. One hundred twenty pounds, his owner told me. At the moment every inch of those pounds was quivering and clinging to the woman’s leg.
I collected Loaner and went home where, of course, nine-month-old Bijou was absent. This was my daily trial, the waiting for him to come home from his explorations. I knew very well he was ranging farther and farther outward in the neighborhood, and I was helpless to rein him in. The microchipping did not reassure me in the least. If he was injured or killed by dogs, cars, or other animals, there was nothing the microchip would do to save him. The worst part was not knowing what became of him if he never came home. Mojo did not come home one night 10 months ago. Nor did Tango five years ago.
People tell me I should keep my cats indoors at all times. I cannot come around to this logic; I might as well stuff them and put them on a shelf. If it is in the nature of a pussycat to enjoy his life outdoors, I do not want to deny him that. The best I can do is lock him down when I call him in at dusk. Bijou has been good about answering my calls of BIIIIJOOOOOOOO, which must resound throughout the neighborhood, and when he appears his delaying tactics involve a run up a tree, a zigzag over the walkway and grass, before finally surrendering.
But this day he did not answer my calls, and I ate dinner without noticing what was on my plate, watched the TV news unseeing. After more, fruitless calls, I traveled again the mental territories of loss should he never come home. Why do I keep bringing kittens home? Put myself through this over and over? The answer was obvious yet unpalatable at the moment.
At 8:35 p.m. I went out yet again and called, gave up, came inside to get ready for bed when I heard the cat door burst open in Bijou’s style of entry. Well, he was back after all. He was too exhilarated to eat, having had some adventure or other, and went to find Loaner before coming back to me. Safe again, for now, the cat door latched.
But then there is tonight, and the next, and the next…..