Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What I See on my Walk

It's impossible for me to handle both dogs by myself on a walk, because Bodhi is insane. He thinks it's fun to tackle Lily over and over during the walk, particularly if she has just relieved herself (and one of us is busy trying to clean it up before it gets stepped in or kicked all over the place). Generally, we'll walk both of the dogs in the evening, as a team, and I'll usually take them on individual walks during the day. This allows me to enjoy the walk, too, without having anything dislocated in the process.

We start out toward the clubhouse, rounding that and going down a little hill on the walking path that winds through the common areas. From the first turn, we can see the brush around the storm pond; a long, narrow ditch that fills with water after a rain; and the trees beyond the pond. Occasionally, a column of geese are parading around the benches that are perched over to the left, nestled beneath a few trees. When they see, hear. or smell the dogs coming, they are off - waddling away or flap-hopping their way back to the safety of the water.

Around the next turn is the home of Molly and Sally, an English Springer Spaniel and a Border Collie mix, respectively. They've not been out and about lately. Normally their owner lets them roam around off leash, but someone must have said something to her, because Molly and Sally are MIA. Bodhi always has to stop and smell the grass there, inhaling their scent. Because of his prominent lower jaw, he has to nearly turn his head upside-down to get a good whiff. The result is that he looks even crazier.

Down the walk are two little Indian girls who are a tad bit afraid of dogs. Now and then they will run out to see the dogs, saying, "Can I pet her?"--dissolving in shrieks and giggles when Lily tries to lick them.

And then we come to another stand of trees framed by soft green grass. In the edges of this mini-forest, we have seen bunnies, feral cats and kittens, and glowing eyes looking out at us. From there, we go up a hill toward Aidan's house.

Aidan is a little boy of about 3 or 4 years old. He's adorable and loves the dogs. When he sees us, he comes running, yelling "Buddy!" I suppose that's what he thinks Bodhi's name is. Bodhi begins to wiggle in anticipation of the little hands on either side of his face, pulling him in for a big smooch. Lily wanders onto their lawn and begins grazing, Aidan's dad laughing that he'll have less to mow. Before we move on, Aidan has to kiss each dog on their back. Don't ask me why.

The rest of the walk has been rather uneventful lately, because the two barking dogs behind the rotting fence down the sidewalk have either been permanently kept indoors or have moved away. They used to take turns sticking their noses through the broken board in the fence, carrying on at us and our dogs. No sooner had I said, "Wow, I think if I lived in this building, I'd be ticked at having to listen to them all the time," than the dogs went away. Maybe a neighbor did complain.

But the walk has just gotten interesting again. A big black-and-white female cat has taken a liking to me. I first saw her a week ago, sitting next to a driveway that I presumed was hers. She's been out there every day since, and she is not always sitting over near that driveway. Sometimes she's near the storm drain. She obviously knows a thing or two about dogs' bark being worse than their bite, because she'll let Lily approach and sniff. Bodhi - not so much.

Last night I had hubby take the dogs on the rest of their walk while I got to know the cat I'm now referring to as Sophie. She was pretty good sized, not emaciated at all. She loved getting petted and just fell all over me, but there was no collar. This cat was someone's pet, and now she's out there fending for herself, I must suppose. With the economy being what it is, and with so many places around here for sale (or foreclosed), I must also assume that she could have been abandoned when the family did the skedaddle.

She followed us at a short distance, steering clear of the dogs, and watched us go inside. I left the porch light on and put out a dish of cat food. It didn't look very much touched this morning when I took Bodhi out for his solitary walk, so he polished it off.

No sign of Sophie today or any other wildlife. It was just a humid, warm walk to get some of Bodhi's insanity out. I hope Sophie has found a cool place in the shade to rest for today. I hope to give her some more love tonight when we go on our evening walk. It's a real shame if someone put her out to fend for herself. Would they do that to their kids?

If I didn't have so many animals already, if I hadn't already taken in my daughter's cat and her dog (Lily was hers), I'd bring Sophie inside and see to it that she has a gentle life. I'm afraid we're full here, but I'll keep an eye on her and put out food now and then. At least she still has her claws. That's something, at least.

Peace - D


Not Afraid to Use It said...

I still harbor huge guilt over a cat that we left behind in CA. He was a feral cat we had semi-adopted outside. I know our neighbors ended up feeding him, and I WAS only 15 at the time. But I still wish I had stood up to my parents and demanded they make arrangements for him. It is a memory I don't like to revisit too often bc the stabbing feeling I get in my heart is so awful. Ah shit. It makes me cry every time.

Jay said...

It's so sad when animals get abandoned. Could she just be an outdoor cat, do you think? At least she still has her claws, as you say. I can't imagine anyone being so cruel as to abandon a declawed cat ... but then I can't imagine choosing to declaw one either.

Not Afraid - I have similar guilt over pets I had as a child. We have to remember we were children, and not totally responsible - that's why there's a legal age of consent (over here, it's illegal to sell an animal to a child under 16, which I think is right). All we can do is move forward from where we are.

A family near us got their young children a pup on the condition that they walked him. The young kids, being young, got tired of the duty and didn't do it so the parents didn't do it either, to 'teach the kids a lesson'. I was FUMING. This teaches them something alright. The wrong thing entirely. Poor little dog.

Sorry to hijack. I'll go away now. ;)

Hilary said...

Well that was a lovely walk. I can picture your surroundings quite well. Maybe not accurately, but well. ;)

I'd be inclined to think that Sophie is just an outdoor cat. If she wasn't hungry and didn't demand to follow you inside. I'm guessing that she's quite content and probably has a good home to go to at night.

I do find it shocking though, when people get rid of their pets because they no longer fit into their lives. I see bulletin board ads all the time from people who want to find a good home for their cat or dog because they're having a baby. Huh? Why wouldn't you want to raise a child with a beloved pet?

Years ago when I moved from Montreal to my current city about a six hour drive away, I was overheard on the phone while I made arrangements with the vet to acquire a light sedative for my two cats so that they could make the trip without too much anxiety. The co-worker who was accessing the situation actually suggested that I just get rid of the cats and get two more if I still wanted cats once I arrived at my destination. "After all, it's way easier, and cats are inexpensive." That so stunned me that I don't think I even answered her.

Please give Sophie a belly rub for me next time you see her. :)

Sarah said...

We have three cats. Lucy our oldest, came from a shelter. But Hazel and Bella found us. Hazel came to my mom's work from texas and Bella was in a cemetary and I begged my mom to let me keep her.

My mom says that she won't adopted from the shelter anymore, some of her favorite cats found her. :)

Lavinia said...

Oh I do hope Sophie has an owner somewhere who is still looking after her. Maybe she just likes to wander a bit.

Years ago when I lived for a brief spell in a farmhouse out in the countryside, I used to put out food for the feral cats who lived in the barn. One of them had only one eye. I called him "One-eye". Not very original, I know...

Your walk sounds interesting. All that terrain and all those familiar faces, both human and animal, along the way, to serve as markers and points of interest for your dogs....

Bodhi sounds like a great big bundle of love....

Maggie May said...

I expect someone would like to take on Sophie. Maybe you could catch her & let her go to a sanctuary?
Must keep you fit doing all this dog walking. I used to have 2 small dogs when the children were young and I got in with many doggie friends & their humans, when I went out each day. It is amazing how many people you meet & talk to while out walking a dog (or a child come to that).

RiverPoet said...

NATUI - You were a child! Plus, if the cat was "semi-feral", that isn't the same as abandoning a house cat. Don't beat yourself up.

Jay - That's terrible about your neighbor's dog. People may think I'm too much of a softie for animals, but I think God granted us dominion over all creatures in order to teach us compassion and empathy.

Hilary - I didn't see Sophie on either of my two walks yesterday, so I'm hoping that means she is a housecat who is let out to roam. I just think she should have a collar and tag, if so. Well, no one is perfect. I did notice, though, that my neighbor 3 doors down also set out food and water for Sophie. Another softie!

Sarah - I know! Cats have a way of doing that. We've fed many feral cats in our time, and if I had taken them all in, we'd be overrun. With our cats, one was purchased at a local pet store (nominal fee), two were adopted from unwanted litters, and another was adopted from a friend's litter. Hopefully this is it for awhile! Most of them are under 10 yrs old.

Lavinia - I'm glad you enjoyed going on my walk with me :-) I'm hoping that Sophie is a housecat, too, allowed to roam. (And yes, Bodhi is a charmer!)

Maggie - Yes, the dogs have been a real blessing for me, as they force me to get out and walk. It's definitely good for my health, but I am not nearly as fit as I'd like to be. Walking, however, is one of those activities that I can do, which doesn't hurt my neck or spine. It's just a wonderful, enjoyable activity.

Peace - D

Daryl said...

I cant imagine how anyone can leave an animal behind .. even TPTB in New Orleans wised up and let evacuees take pets ...

I love your walk .. and I feel as if I was with you .. Bodhi sniffing the scent of the other dogs and Lily grazing... sweet and very pleasant images ... you paint with word, Doris!

Dianne said...

I feel like I know Bodhi and Lily now, and all the neighbors too. I love the little boy and his ritual of kissing the dogs on their backs.

Sophie sounds like a cat we have around here. She has a family they're just not to clever. Once I found out who they were I asked them if I could put a collar on her. they said OK and when I asked for their phone # they looked surprised so she has my phone # on her collar. I really don't get people.

Celebration of Life said...

Perhaps, the cat wasn't abandoned at all but had slipped out of its collar or didn't have a collar. Perhaps you were visited by a furry angel that you named Sophie! We are sent blessings everyday, sometimes we don't recognize them as such!
Thanks for visiting my blog; please come back anytime!

Jay said...

"I think God granted us dominion over all creatures in order to teach us empathy and compassion."

Well, exactly. And you know how I feel about every living thing having the right to life.

Burgh Baby said...

I absolutely cannot walk two dogs by myself. It's impossible!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Thanks for the wonderful imagery, hon!