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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pet Therapy


Well, I have posted blogs twice now about the dogs in my life in relation to my divorce (though not all the dogs).  Though I did not mention everything, such as the fact that Maggie described in the last blog is one of the dogs responsible for introducing my wife and I to one another.  But there is another side to these things:  there are cats.  And since I try to be fair to both in my books, it seems only proper that the blog should be, too.

Some believe you can divide all humanity into two groups:  dog persons and cat persons.  I don’t know what such people do with individuals like me, who regularly have both.  Cats and I go way back…dogs didn’t enter my life until I was in junior high, when we moved away from the busy highway.  (I don’t know why I had to wait till the move to get a dog, but had cats.  I guess my folks didn’t think it such a big deal that cats got hit by the cars.)

As a youngster, I had all sorts of cats, because they tended to be short-lived near the highway.  And I must pay tribute to my Uncle Joe, who loved cats way beyond any normal person would…and in his honor I even named my last cat after him!  As an adult, I have tended toward one of the worst kind of cat people, I have had Siamese cats.  If you are a cat person, you know exactly what that means, if not, then suffice it to say that Siamese cats don’t meow, they wail…if they bother to talk to you at all. 

In my divorce, I lost access to the family dog, and the two cats we had in the home—one for each of my kids.  Having had pets in the house, a home without them felt especially empty after a divorce.

I didn’t get a cat of my own until several years later, as eventually my son moved in with his cat…the Siamese.  It was after he went to college that I got my own Siamese, who died a few years ago. 

I am a firm believer that obtaining a pet after a divorce is good therapy.  They represent a new, living relationship and require the owner to be involved with something outside of him or herself.  It is kind of a new beginning, but it is also establishing a home and arranging companionship when your primary companionship has been withdrawn.  I have a friend whose life was her horses, but since I’m a city kid and equine illiterate, I opt for more traditional indoor pets.  Dogs are friendly, and will always let you know that you are loved (they will also make you think you are absolutely wonderful…just don’t buy too deep into that).  Cats, on the other hand, are calming and stress reducing, in my opinion. 

There were many times I would come home for the day to a house that was empty of habitation when children were at their mother’s or away at college.  Sometimes I would sit or lay on the couch to read or watch television.  It was then that the cat would come over to say, “hello.”  Actually, cats never really say, “hello.”  

When cats come, they say several specific things:  

“Hello, you need to clean my litter box.”  

“Hello, why are you sitting there?  Do you not realize my food bowl is empty?”  

“Hello, why were you gone so long without asking my permission.  I am here to get your 
attention so that you can reach my direction and I can snub you by walking the other way to let you know how perturbed I am at you.”  

Or, my favorite is, “Hello, here I am and there is a place on my back that needs to be scratched.  Are you going to do it, or do I have to rub against your leg and do it myself?” 

Yes, cats are wonderful, aren’t they?

Anyway, back to lying on the couch.  Once I got comfortable, the cat would come over, climb into close proximity…sometimes my face, which required moving him to a more reasonable location…and then start to purr.  Purring, for me, is a very soothing sound.  It implies things are calm and secure.  It represents caring and support.  For the cat, it probably means, “I finally got this idiot human to pet me correctly!”  But for me, it was a good feeling to rub the soft fur and hear the purring sound in response.  When you have experienced the lack of appreciation that comes with divorce, hearing appreciation for something as simple as rubbing a cat’s ears can be a good feeling.

Well as I mentioned, my cat died a few years ago.  One of these days I’ll get another, and it will be Siamese once again, I am sure.  Just not right now.  But the point of the whole matter is this:  if a person is divorced, a loving pet can mitigate the feeling of being alone, and is well worth the trouble and a little expense. 

If you know such a person, it is worth a recommendation for their benefit.  I’d offer to send you one of my wife’s miniature dogs…but she probably wouldn’t appreciate that, so you will have to seek one out yourself.  I’m sure your local pet rescue shelter would be more than happy to oblige.  You won’t regret it!

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