All Creatures, Great and Wonderful

purseI’m in what I call a compression phase. Big, plenty stress. I’m waiting to hear from two different publishing houses about book contracts, the situation in the law office is very much up in the air, and oh yeah, my mom died earlier this month. Under circumstances like these, when I hear that Amazon is trying to patent a used ebook marketplace, I about lose my buttons.

I left my purse in the bank. 

blogXbesomXchloeI’m taking all day to get out 2500 words that should be done easily before noon.

I’m forgetting half my groceries, even when I make a list AND remember to bring it into the store with me.  

Fun times, these are not. 

And yet… I live with animals. As I blogXlymperstype this, Besom Black Cat is in my lap, purring like a jet engine. Lately, she even follows me into the bathroom and waits among the clean laundery until I leave. Chloe and Teapot are two feet left of the computer on the heated throw my mom sent me for Christmas. (Sent us, rather). At my feet, Sarge is dozing contently on the throw rug. 

Long time ago, I was grooming for somebody at a horse show. It was the kind of show where the exact time of each competitor’s test was posted well in advance, so depending on the horse’s temperament, the rider could do a long warm-up, a short warm-up, something in between.

andyXbeanI got the test time wrong. 

Not awfully wrong–by about ten or fifteen minutes–and that meant the horse wasn’t at his best when he went into the arena. The rider was furious, and just missed being in the ribbons. As I was untacking the horse, an enormous beast with tons of talent, he wrapped his neck and head around me. 

An eighteen hand horse’s neck easily weighs 200 pounds, and it’s all muscle. I couldn’t move, and it was the oddest moment I’ve ever had with the horse, until I figured out, “He’s hugging me.” 

Grace on Delray the Wonder Pony

Grace on Delray the Wonder Pony

From down the shed row we could hear the celebration of the rider who had grabbed that last ribbon; meanwhile, my rider was moping around, tsk-tsking, blaming me for the low score. That big old horse gave me the best, “There, There. I understand. It’s one score, it’s one ride. Everybody makes mistakes.” 

He’d never done that before–not ever–but I am convinced the horse knew exactly what I was feeling. I think the cats and dogs know too, and their reaction has been to stay by me even more than they usually do.

allXcreaturesYou are all on notice. When I’m geezing in the nursing home, you will please smuggle in cats and bunnies and guinea pigs to visit me. Doesn’t matter if I can speak, move, or communicate, you bring my friends to see me, and I’ll know.

Has an animal comforted you, or shown an uncanny reaction to you? I could add story after story to this post, but I want to hear your stories.

To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of one of my favorite, favorite books, “All Creatures Great and Small,” by James Herriot.  

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26 comments on “All Creatures, Great and Wonderful

  1. We always had cats and dogs as I was growing up. But when I left home at 18 I was moving around a lot and living in apartments that didn’t allow animals. So when I finally settled down and bought my own home, the first thing I did was make sure that I had three four-legged roommates (2 dogs and a cat) when I moved in. That was almost 40 years ago. The saddest thing about having cats and dogs is that under normal circumstances, their life span is so much shorter than yours.

    Currently, I only have two cats since I lost my Brandy Boy seven years ago. He was a golden retriever – the sweetest, most loving animal you world ever want to meet.

    Love my two babies. And as you know, a purring cat sitting in your lap is the greatest anti-anxiety medicine in the world.

    • I’ve wished my dad had a cat, but I think he’s put off by what you mention–their lifespans are too short, and he’s buried so many pets. Then too, he’s 95, and I know when I consider my own final arrangements, I’m always thinking, “Who will love my pets?”

      For now, the pets and I love each other.

  2. My corgi Bear was my heart dog. When I was having radiation after my surgery, he was a huge comfort. I was tired…can’t express how tired I felt. I’d get up walk the dogs, go to treatment and drive to work.
    Bear was there for me. I fell asleep on the couch quite a bit and Bear was always snuggled up to me. Patting him was such a stress reliever. Bear also was a great comfort to my Dad after his stroke. He would sit in my Dads lap and listen to the Red Sox game and be patted for hours.
    I miss Bear.. Animals provide friendship and unconditional love . They don’t care if you loose your keys, your pocketbook or your coffee cup every day. They are happy to be with you.

    • “I miss Bear.” Must really hurt to say that, but oh, the love you and he had, and have.

      A heart dog. Yes. I’ve had heart horses, heart kitties, heart dogs, and even a heart rat.

      Bless the beasts.

  3. Oh my YES. Horse hugs! The cats herd me when I am sick, they have a duty rotation of who is on point for the day. Eve my Dr will ask how many cat packs are installed.

    When sad or grieving they latch on, purring barnacles trying to comfort me…or perform silly antics to make me smile, laugh, then latch on.

    I also tended to scatter belongings during the first months of grief.
    *gentle hug*

    • Funny you should say that about trying to make you laugh. Besom is a venerable old gal well into her teens, and lately, she’s been starting and ending each day with a larruping display of the CLAZIES!!!!

      She does make me smile, the goof.

  4. I have always shared my life with a dog and sometimes with cats. (though no cats since I married a cat-allergic man…poor me). I love all animals, even the ones I must appreciate from afar (i.e spiders and snakes). As a child, even the old neighbors that have long sinced moved away, remind me of our smiling English Setter who greeted everyone with a roll back of his lips and a rollover onto his back of his body…he was so submissive and sweet, he was beloved even my the most aloof of people who lived nearby. Sometimes that dog was the best way for me to meet and talk to cranky adults. When I raised my daughters there was no better way to encourage nurturing, responsibility, compassion and trust, than by getting them to help me raise animals and live with them. In those years I owned 5 champion bred Shih Tzus and bred their puppies too. No kennel for me, instead these lovely beings shared our beds, couches and hearts. My current two dogs are also my family, and on some days I like them much better than the rest of my family. I thank God everyday that he has blessed me with all that he has, and especially my two mop-topped scruffy Shih Tzus.

    • I wasn’t a dog person. We didn’t have many dogs growing up, but we had cats, parakeets, the occasional goat, a horse.

      But then my daughter hit the latchkey years, and figured… a dog.

      Now I’m in the other latchkey years, and so… a dog. The first guy i picked up at the pound is a saint among souls. Sarge gives dogs a good name, and if he’s any indication of what’s available for nearly free at the pound, he will not be my last dog.

  5. Oh Grace! Let yourself grieve! Don’t beat yourself up for not being as productive right now!

    My story is about how sensative animals can be with each other! I had a beautiful tabby named Tabitha. She was a little grumpy towards the end. She was mostly deaf and blind. She had allergies and asthma. My other 2 became more gentle with her. One night I was getting ready to go to work (I am a nurse) and she was very unsettled! Her breathing was becoming more laboured. I called work but we were short staffed so had to go in. I wasn’t sure what I would find in the morning.
    When I got home – no Tabitha! She always greeted me at the door! Instead my other 2 shy, quiet guys were at the door talking their heads off. They led me to where Tabitha had hidden herself. We all had a good cry and cuddle together. Tabitha had been my first pet of my own.
    The other part of the story sounds selfish. I was in the process of arranging a move of over 900 kilometres in a few months. One of the biggest worries I had was how Tabitha was going to adjust to the move and if she was going to be healthy enough to fly. I often wonder if she sensed this and just decided it was time to go to make things easier for me!

    Keep your fur family close. Let them help you through this difficult time. I lost my Dad 2.5 years ago and it kindof stalled me out for a while. But I have found a fresh voice and determination at work. My brother, who had put his writing aside 20 years ago, found a new voice and was published last year! Take care!

    • I know death of a parent can result in a changed and more determined perspective about life. My mom was fond of saying, “This ain’t no dress rehearsal.”

      Sounds like Tabitha had a terrific life and was well loved, by you and by her siblings. Lucky kitty!

    • Mes félicitations pour ce très beau travail et la mise à disposition du public de ces ouvrages rares.J’aimerais connaître le titre et les caractéristiques des ouvrages en breton que vous avez numérisés.Merci d’avance

  6. I don’t have animals…I had kids, one with a disability and decided to not have animals in our home. Both my husband and I grew up with dogs and even though we loved dogs, we felt with a child with autism it would be too hard on everyone.

    The weeks after my mom died, I was numb. I ate crappy and forgot to pay the phone/internet bill. I slept more and harder. I was suppose to start writing a weekly column for my professional society’s website and got those four articles in but asked for the deadline to be a week later because my Mom had passed away. They did move the deadline but asked me to get them in as soon as possible…I worked hard to get them in when I should have been trying heal my heart. I was in a fog and did the best I could…but it wasn’t my best. Some folks understood and some did not.

    Everyone else in my household seemed to be able to bounce back after the death of their grandmother and mother-in-law. But I couldn’t; it was MY MOM who died. My son with autism (whose birthday was yesterday)would sit next to me and rub my arm or put his arm around me. These are gestures that would seem natural of a son but….he has lower functioning autism, not able to speak and it makes no sense he would be sensitive to my pain and grief. But he loves me and I love him and love is powerful.

    Love IS powerful, Grace. Those who love us can see our pain, animals or those who by rights, shouldn’t be able to. And, as cliche as it sounds, love conquers all.

  7. I once visited an elderly aunt in her nursing care home – to introduce her to my daughter’s newborn. I found her in the “Activity Room” where a Labrador dog was part of the therapy. When that dog saw the baby in my arms, she walked over to the therapy equipment and picked up a squeaking, squeeze toy in her mouth and brought it to drop at my feet! Doggy “Nanny” remained on duty as I moved around the room with the baby. I’ll always remember that connection – and the light that came into the eyes of those elderly folks as they gently stroked the baby’s hand or head.

  8. Sometimes, I think animals come into our lives when needed. One of my dogs, Jemmy, is a pet-assisted therapy dog. Last Tuesday, during one of our regular visits, Jemmy was insistent on entering a patient’s room, which was dim usually meaning the occupant is asleep. Inside was a woman who was recovering from surgery and missed her dogs terribly. We spent time with her and Jemmy got plenty of hugs and kisses!

  9. My son is the Bunny Whisperer. It does not matter what type of bunny, they all instantly are drawn to him. Except for the unsocialized ones. Those who know people are good, they come to him for headpets, admiring speech, or tug on his pants for extra attention. He used to sit for the longest time petting our first bunny. Is it any wonder the bunny moped, when he went to summer camp for the first time. This bunny, alas, lived only two weeks after he went off to university. It was the Bunny Whisperer who was able to calm the newly adopted bunnies who came to live with us, two months after the death of the first bunny. He was talking to them, trying to soothe them. While at the sanctuary, he had a bunny practically dancing for his attention. Others perked up and came to the front of their pens for his attention. If he had a car, he could work at this sanctuary. They would hire him on the spot.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss Grace. It’s very hard to lose a Mom. Let yourself Mourn and don’t sweat the small stuff… It’s all small stuff in comparison… Hugs

  11. I am so sorry to hear about your mom. My sincere condolences and a big virtual hug.

    I don’t have an interesting story to share but I do want to take the opportunity to tell you that I loved Will’s True Wish. I’ve had only cats as pets but reading this book makes me want to love a dog and have a dog love me.

  12. Grace, I lost my mom almost 18 years ago now and I still wish I could listen to her stories of growing up in east Texas while eating a piece of her made-from-scratch chocolate cake. Please give yourself time to grieve, adjust, and lean on the little four-leggeds you’re blessed to have. The furry one who helped me so much when I lost my mom was a black cocker spaniel from a rescue group, a scary smart little cutie who connected with me better than any human ever has. She’s gone now, too, and the day I had to admit she was too much pain and have her put to sleep remains one of the worst days of my life. Now I have two black cats who’ve hired me to be their staff human, and I can’t imagine my life without them. =^..^=

  13. I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s death, Grace! Don’t expect the pain of that to disappear anytime soon. Mothers are irreplaceable, and it doesn’t matter how old you are when they die, you hurt and miss them. My sincere condolences! Be kind to yourself and take good care.

  14. I have a lot of stories about dogs 🙂 My dog and others…

    We have a sled dog race here. I always volunteer for the Vet Check. You get to meet the mushers, handle the dogs with the vets and you really see how each musher cares for their dog.

    Usually the sled dogs would not make good house dogs. The racers look for a certain temperament in the dogs, each one having their thing. I’ve been regularly jumped on, peed on, knocked over by sled dogs… so the team where each dog sat nicely, waiting patiently for the vet, didn’t jump, pee, growl or behave “badly” (not like a house dog) really stood out. I commented to the musher “Wow! Your dogs are really well socialized! Beautiful team!”

    As I said that, a little girl about 6 came from inside the truck. He smiled and said “Meet my socializer.”

    His daughter played with all the puppies and taught them how to be “nice”.

    I haven’t seen the little girl in a while, as she doesn’t come to the Vet Checks anymore being in school (in Ontario)… but I can always pick out that team. She’s still his socializer (and he’s always tickled that I remember her and ask how she’s doing).

  15. My husband of 34 years that I loved beyond measure left me for his college sweetheart. I was grieved, also beyond measure and subsequently became physically ill with the worst “flu” I even had. My two cats, Milo and CJ both came to my bed–one on each side of me and did not move until I was able to get out of bed and take care of myself and them. I am so sorry about your mother. I would like to write to some day and some way about how your books help helped me through a terrible grief. You clearly know grief and can put words to it in a way that few, if any, can.
    Thank YOU

  16. I am so sorry for your loss. Words just can’t convey enough regarding that kind of loss and grief. I lost my Dad less than a year ago and then my cat of 16 years a month later. I adopted a rescue siamese boy who has been a total cuddle muffin and who loves on me a lot especially when I am feeling sad or have a migraine. Other times he is a total goofball and makes me laugh at his antics. Give yourself a break and time. It is normal to have mushy brain with grief for the year following loss of a parent or spouse or child. It is ok. Let your
    pets/animal roommates love on you and comfort you along with your friends and loved ones. Hang in there. Hugs.