Our high-functioning autistic daughter told us one time that she couldn’t do a sleepover where there wasn’t an animal breathing in the house. At the time, we shook our heads in disbelief, our hopes of social growth diminishing quickly. She has an uncanny gift with animals and has been dubbed the “animal whisperer” in our neighborhood and by friends. She needs to be near animals, preferably dogs. The more I thought about it, I agreed in awe of her (often) very wise words. The older I get; I have difficulty if there isn’t an animal around.
Our furry family is extremely important to us. My soul-mate cat, Brownie, named after the famous Children’s author, Margaret Wise Brown, died in April 2005 when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Knowing the rough time, my son gave me a tiny, Siamese kitten for Mother’s Day that year. Dax was named after the Star Trek character of the same name. The character of Dax in Star Trek is a symbiont from the race of the Trill.
Our cat Dax was named thus, in hopes he would carry some of the same qualities as Brownie. Dax is proving to be a soul-mate as well. He has that inner, 6th sense of staying nearby in times of stress, anxiety, or illness. Throughout his cancer treatments, he was glued to my husband, Rob, purring away anxiety and pain. Science states that a cat’s purr is healing. With Rob free from two bouts of cancer ten and twelve years ago, I can’t help but sometimes wonder if the purring had something to do with his healing. Dax has become a demanding and vocal fur-child as the years’ pass. He is an extraordinarily loving cat who spends the nights as my teddy bear or pillow unless someone in the family is anxious or not feeling well.
I will admit that I love dogs and admire them, but I never considered myself a dog person until our Reggie came along. He was a rescue from a high-kill shelter in North Carolina thanks to the fabulous House of Hope Animal Rescue in Elkton, Maryland. Patti Clifton, the shelter owner, has an inner sense of finding the perfect rescue dogs for our family. We lost our beloved, Matrix, a black Labrador that came to us at eight years old. Patti assured us she would find the right dog for us. One evening, we received a call. Patti told us about Reggie. Reggie is a black Labrador mix that came to us in approximately 2016. I honestly can’t remember the date as it seems like he has been with us forever. Reggie is my Velcro dog. He adores the family but is definitely ‘my’ dog. The family teases me constantly that I can’t be six feet from him. He is my constant companion and shadow that is glued to me 99% of the time. Reggie has taught me how the love of a dog is an amazing gift. His constant presence gives comfort to my very core. Reggie has ‘old soul’ eyes, and his glance seems all-knowing. He’s also a playboy, taking every opportunity to catch and play with balls and squeaky toys.
I have learned when we travel that we prefer to house and animal sit at friends’ homes where we can visit with animal friends. We also like to stay at bed and breakfast sites or Air BnB’s where animals are present. Our favorite is Liberty Book Shop in Avis, PA, where cats Hector and Mrs. B. rule. A stay where one has cats and 24/7 access to a book shop in heaven on earth. Thank you, Linda Roller, for creating this haven!
And one of my greatest perks at my new job, working at Grunge Muffin Designs, is having little Marco Boas nearby.
I’m not sure if it’s being eccentric or smart, but I have learned to follow the wisdom of my dear daughter, that it’s always good to have an animal breathing nearby.