I open my eyes to see Petra, my five-year-old Australian shepherd, in her usual place, sleeping by my side of the bed. Lifting the covers, I whisper her name. In an instant she is snuggled beside me, her back pressed against my chest and tummy, her head nestled under my chin. I put my arm around her, and we both doze, filling our hearts with the warmth of quiet connection.
Later, bustling around the house dealing with the obligations of daily life, I come up from the basement. Ahead and above, I see the black undersides of two little paws peeking over the top step, then a black nose and above it the white tip of a tail. Milo, my beagle, is stretching in anticipation of me coming upstairs. As I approach the top of the stairs, he breaks out into joyful, ear-flipping, head-bobbing bouncing. I smile then laugh, and Milo’s excitement reaches new heights as he starts baying and leaping into the air . To me, coming up from a brief trip to the basement is no big deal, but to Milo, it is an occasion to celebrate my return, and that makes it a moment of joyful connection for me.
Rowan, my red-merle Australian shepherd, is always with me when I travel, since he is a Medical Alert Service Dog who flags me when my blood sugar drops. Even if we’re visiting at someone’s house and he has free range, he is rarely more than a few feet from me, and I am never out of his sight. When I sleep he awakens me with a light touch of his whiskers on my face if I need to get up and eat. He often stands beside me, leaning against my leg, head burrowed in my knee, while I rest my hand on his back. In church, on planes, or in other public locations, Rowan sleeps, but if my blood sugar drops, he stares silently and steadily at me until I reach for a snack, then he closes his eyes again. Service dogs do not come cheap (as you’ll discover if you read this site), but my goodness they are worth it. Throughout my day, I feel the silent yet intense cord that connects Rowan’s soul to mine.
Silver, one of my two cats, sashays in front of the dogs, then crouches, swishes her tail wildly back and forth, and suddenly darts down the hall, Petra and Rowan chasing playfully after her. Moments later she confidently strides back into my studio, hops up on the table, and walks through my palette, then leaves a trail of blue paw prints across the bookshelves. I love this cat. I am never bored with her in the house and it would be hard to be lonely. Her mischievous, playful ways are balanced by her quiet poses as she sits on an upside down box or even on a piece of paper and solemnly watches me for long minutes, clearly just wanting to be near.
As I settle into my rocking chair with a cup of tea, Bituminous, my old and beloved black cat, rises from his cozy bed in the next room, slowly stretches his stiff limbs, then pads over to me. Coming to my left side, he stands against my leg, asking to be picked up, which of course I do. My old friend then snuggles down, his head nestled into the crook of my left elbow, and gazes up at me. I gaze back for a while then start reading. Every so often I feel a light tapping on my chest, as Bituminous asks for more eye contact. Each time he requests attention I stop reading and look into his eyes. I am filling my heart with a lifetime supply of Bituminous’ love. I will miss him terribly when he is gone; for now I am focusing on cherishing every day with him.
Five wonderful animals, each with his or her own unique, special place in my heart. None could be replaced, all are beloved, and each adds something beautiful to who I am at this point in time.
by Melissa Fischer, PuppyHomeSchool.com