The Stare

People sometimes talk about “dog heaven.” I can’t imagine a people “heaven” without dogs, or even my enervating cats.

When Zoe goes, it will  be with our love and blessing and hope we will meet again. She is certainly irreplaceable.

Who do you know that can stare you awake? No harrumphing, barking, whining, squirming and rolling on the rug. No scratching of floors or doors. She just stares and after 13 years we are one, and I awaken, dress for the weather, take her out, feed her and on weekends, lift her up to the bed to snore alongside my husband.

Zoe has made “the stare” into an art form. I know 99% of the time what she wants. Early dinner. Out. Precious (it’s her only toy and I keep it up high). Bed. “Lift me, Mom!” Up on the couch with me at night to watch a movie. Often she doesn’t even ask for that one but she is usually respectful of my space except when I make half of a soft blanket available.

It’s one thing when I’m awake and aware of the time of day as to what she needs (she never lies when she stares to go out), it’s her ability to stare when I’m sound asleep and awaken me. Eerie. Luckily no-one in my life has ever done that. My older cat learned from my sister’s cat how to open the cat food cupboard. He’d get up at four in the morning and slam that door about 1,000 times, then come upstairs and sit his hefty 14 lbs. directly on my bladder. I had to get up, go downstairs in the open loft and use the bathroom, then I’d feed him and we’d both go back to bed. He was a talker, Burmese mix, and in 13 years I never got in the last word in an argument. “Anywhere is allowed save my kitchen counter work space.” “Mraaaaaah.”

My younger cat, at the time, played with dogs. Dogs would run away from home to play with him. Yes, I’d get phone calls. Is she there? Yep. He walked into my loft at nine weeks and lived there nine years, crawled in bed with the dog and stayed a year. He taught himself to retrieve crumpled post-it notes. He’d sail over the top of the sofa, grab the note, run around and drop it at my feet. Yes, a DSH Retriever. That’s domestic short-hair, he was a tuxedo cat with white chest and paws.

You wouldn’t believe that the day after he was neutered the vet called to make sure he was calm and sedate. I’ve spayed and neutered enough feral cats (about 2,500) that I know they do what they can do, especially males as the surgery is not as invasive. The moment I answered the phone Mickey was sailing over the top of the sofa chasing a post-it note. He’d dropped an old one at my feet, daring me to toss it. “He’s right next to me, Doc, and is calm and doing well.” He was calm and doing well, according to him, as he dropped the “ball” at my feet so was next to me.

I’ve had some strange animals but none could just stare me awake. It’s freaky. No. My “alarm clock” is not for sale or rent. First, because her timing is her clock, not mine. Fall back and spring forward are difficult times for us because our sun and clock are different. Seven a.m. becomes either six or eight. As she ages it seems to take longer to adjust.

Our girl is dearly loved so much that even my mother-in-law bought her a matching Christmas stocking last year, shocked that Zoe was not considered part of the family, stocking-wise. That from a family that wanted to keep her as a pup in a goat pen, and not on our bed. Farms. We hung it up between our stockings with pride. I don’t think it stared at us. Cheers! Dee

ps One could set off fireworks across the street in the park and it wouldn’t wake my husband. The Stare doesn’t work on him. Is it a motherly instinct? If you know, please clue me in. Thanks, Dee



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