Often, when I'm sitting at my computer typing (as I am now) Luke, our Maine Coon Cat is laying on the table where all my junk is--folders, calendar, books, papers, note books, Jack Parker's black leather prayer book, files, a tennis ball (for some reason), CD;s, my mother's butter dish (for some reason), one of those dolls with smaller dolls in it of Hedici Matsui, paper clips--you get the idea: junk.
Lukie has a tail that may be longer than his body (I've never measured but will and let you know) and fluffier than a raccoon tail. He has that odd 'm' on his forehead and huge (I mean huge!) yellow eyes. He watches me and rolls over to get my attention and I think, "Luke loves me". That is anthropomorphising a cat--which is never a good idea. What he is actually thinking, I believe when I'm not attributing human emotions to him, is something like "do you have a pork chop or chicken thigh on you? Or some of those duck treats I like so much?"
I talk to my dog, Bela, a lot. I keep waiting for him to talk back, which, rationally, I know will never in a million years, happen. But I keep waiting anyway. He looks like he would like to answer me, tilting his head to one side and trying to see me through the hair over his eyes. When I'm honest, I know he's just waiting for me to say one of the English words he recognizes: 'go out', he knows; 'bowl', 'breakfast' and 'dinner' are in the same category, 'treat' he knows for sure; 'upstairs' and 'big bed' he responses to, running upstairs to jump on the big bed for the night.
Does Bela 'love' me? Bern tells me he does. Often when I'm gone, she says he lays on the 'big bed' and watches for me. Or sometimes lays on the floor at one of the 6 foot floor windows in the front of our house and watches for me. (The other day, when she knew I was coming back soon, she laid on the floor with him to see at what point he saw me and ran to the front door. But I'm not sure we should use the word 'love' for what animals feel for us.)
I think he probably thinks of me as one of his 'flock' since he's a Hungarian sheep dog and when I leave he feels he's failed at keeping the flock together and is happy when I come back because now he has me to guard. I don't know, all this seems silly to ponder.
Maybe I should just give you a poem I wrote about Bela.
If I've posted this before, I apologize, but it just occurred to me and if I try to find it I'm afraid I'll lose what I've written so far. So, for the first or second time:
So, I'm standing on my porch,
deep in a January night--
19 degrees Fahrenheit, partly cloudy, full moon--
smoking one of the cigarettes almost everyone I know
warns me not to smoke.
Then I notice the dog--less than ten months old,
a Hungarian sheepdog--black as anthracite coal
and at least that stubborn--
lying on the deck in the snow
with his snout and one front paw
through the gate
that used to keep young children (how long gone?)
from falling down the stairs.
Cleverly, I put the gate on the deck
to keep the Puli from running away.
I realize, still smoking, that he would run away
in a heartbeat if the gate weren't there.
To what? I wonder.
To a place where he'd be fed better?
Playing with more?
There is no place like that.
So maybe he's just dreaming of running away
to the place he dreams of running away to:
that place we'd all run away to,
happy as we are,
if no gates stopped us.
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