Pets don’t come with instruction manuals but owners don’t need one to decode their furry friends’ emotions. As I tiptoe down the stairs at 6 in the morning and I nestle on the sofa between my dogs, I know that Ottie’s tongue showering my face is a sign of affection and Portia’s head in my lap signifies comfort and trust.
Looking at Portia now, peacefully napping on her bed, the mischief that is perpetually swirling in her brain is not apparent. Yet, that scoundrel, aided and abetted by her brother, Ottie, have caused their share of havoc. Neither of them has ever chewed shoes or furniture, and long ago I learnt the trick of scattering a couple of cardboard boxes with a small treat inside before leaving the house, to be sure I will return to everything as I (mostly) left it.
I suffer from a bit of New York envy at the moment. All in all, I still think Los Angeles wins the race in the long run but this city dazzlingly array of options when it comes to virtually anything, so very neatly arranged within easy reach, just can’t be beat. And the energy is wonderful, if not sustainable.
My mighty Ottie was not well: a funky skin irritation and a cyst above one eye, that was growing alarmingly fast, were worrying me. Time for a trek to the office of Dr. Martin, the urban equivalent of Dr. James Herriott of “All Creatures Great and Small”, a tv show I must have watched and watched again thousands of times.
Love her or hate her, Lena Dunham is hard to ignore. I am most definitely in the “love” camp because I see her as a beacon of inspiration for a new generation of smart and uncompromising young women. Ms. Dunham can now list “writer” in her resume that already boasts director, actor and tv writer.
During those moments of procrastination or weakness, I can be found clicking away on the site of the boxer adoption shelter where Ottie and Portia came from. I scroll through the photos of all available boxers, read the cleverly cobbled together stories under their fictitious names and brood, thinking that I should be giving another dog a chance at a better life. I have the space, and cranky Ottie could be coaxed into loving a brother. What stops me every time is the thought of footing more veterinary bills. It’s not that my dogs have been sicker than most but it does feel like veterinary care has become unaffordable, at least in the States.
We know for a fact that animals experience a range of feelings, from sadness and mourning, to happiness and contentment but, unlike us, animals don’t experience self-pity, as D.H. Lawrence eloquently and bluntly expressed in his poem Self Pity:
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.