What’s Your “Song?”

Bird singing-birdYou know I LOVE Maya Angelou. I often quote her. Because I have birds that talk to me, I MUST correct a bird misquote.

The quote, and shortened book title, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is incorrectly attributed to Maya. Actually, Joan Walsh Anglund (born c. 1926), an American poet and children’s book author, wrote in “A Cup of Sun: A Book of Poems” published in 1967:

“A bird does not sing because he has an answer. He sings because he has a song.”

What’s your song?

Sing it!

Animal Love

I’ve been the blessed owner of 3 dogs: a precious, loyal Miniature Schnauzer, Wolfgang (“WG”), a gorgeous, sweet Irish Setter (“Coors”—yes the beer; he and WG were stepbrothers in the 70’s), and a happy, playful Black Lab, “Shadow,” in the 90’s. (I couldn’t find a picture, but he’s highlighted in the “FYI” chapter of Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html.)

I understand canine loyalty…UNTIL they catch a “can’t-say-no” scent, decide to cause mental distress from a run-away-offering-cash-reward-for-information-of-their-whereabouts, or just to take a cooling swim in the nearby lake!

Even though they were all indoor dogs, they car-traveled, hiked, camped, and jogged with us; and, the Lab loved duck hunting, especially retrieving in the frigid water!

I’ll agree that loved/cared-for dogs will develop a steadfast loyalty to one (occasionally a second) member of their human family. I can even attest to it. The minute I stood up, WG came to attention anticipating our destination. And every day after work, he was waiting at the door to greet me. (Before Coors, WG’s feline stepbrothers, Trampas and Trooper, were associate “look-outs” in my front windows.)

But, let me tell you: my EVERY move is accompanied by my Chinchilla-furred cat, the debonair Fred Astaire—a feral I tamed. His unclipped claw’s dance taps behind me. He knows my routine so well that half the time he leads me, anxiously looking over his shoulder to make sure I don’t get lost on “our” way! He’s as much unconditional love as any dog doesn’t think about being!

iPhone Pictures 066

To squeeze in as much time as he can with me, he sits in the bathroom sink when I brush my teeth, as well as when I put on and take off my make-up; on my desk in front of my computer screen as I write and research; beside my chair when I eat, read, talk on the phone, and go to the bathroom. And, of course, my lap; that goes without saying! Your dog, and Mary’s lamb, have nothing on Fred!

Not only can he scale my fireplace to spring onto the horizontal wood beams adjoined to the outer walls, but he can jump vertically, almost 5-feet, straight up, from my countertops to the top of my kitchen cabinets…to keep a look-out while I cook.

And HONESTLY, I carefully take over-the-shoulder rear views before moving! Even after 13 years of accidentally pressing a claw or tail, he’s still bad about sitting under and behind my wheelchair.

What an unconditionally loving, loyal dat! Or, could it be “separation anxiety?”

Have you a “Big Fish” tale?

Here’s more on Fred: (an excerpt from Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html )

“He’s a Russian Blue on the outside but pure dog on the inside. He’s that rare breed, half dog/half cat, that I call a dat!

The cat part of him has sleek, satiny slate-colored fur, grass-green eyes (all three of my cats got my eyes), and exceptionally long, fang-like canines. They make it appear as if he’s always smiling. He head butts for kisses, closes his eyes in feline bliss when petted, and stands up on his hind legs to politely pat my arm for attention when I am otherwise predisposed.

The dog part comes running when I whistle, drools when his ears are rubbed, climbs my chair, cat-like, to stand show-dog-style on top of my push-handles, and rolls over on his back with front paws extended…offering up more belly for a belly rub.

Most nights he sleeps propped against my chest under my right arm, on my right shoulder or at my head.”

*The Russian Blue is a naturally occurring breed that may have originated in the port of Arkhangelsk, Russia. They are also…called Archangel Blues. It is believed that sailors took Russian Blues from the Archangel Isles to England and Northern Europe in the 1860s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Blue

SCI Grenades: Weapons of Mass Distraction

For you fellow SCIs, or other involved, animal lovers who have one trouble-making “alpha,” this is my harmless, but effective, ammunition for breaking up pet fights. (I was bullied into its invention because I can’t squeeze a spray bottle to interrupt unwanted behaviors.) Before I get to it, everyone else has to hear my short spiel:

Becoming a pet owner is a big responsibility, and research is tantamount before adopting.

I’m a proponent of adopting from shelters. Even though most are Heinz 57 varieties, you can identify a predominant breed characteristic. Thus said, breed types, temperaments, longevity, veterinary bills (annuals, neutering or spaying, health issues), must be taken into consideration. Too many pets are chosen on looks alone, then rejected because they’re destructive (meaning bored with no exercise), require too much attention, need veterinary care, and/or aren’t suited for the owner/family’s lifestyle.

Please, know that animals should be an integral part of your life, not a possession you tire of, ignore, or abuse. As He did us, God created them on the sixth day and saw that “…it is very good.”

Fred Astaire-the debonair

Fred Astaire-the debonair

Now, to my feline “boys,” Fred Astaire and Laptop. (I dedicated the chapter, “A Little Bit of Heaven,” in Views From My Chariot http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html  to my pets. You know they’re exceptional!)

Fred was a feral I tamed. Two years later, I saved Laptop from being euthanized. All went well until Laptop turned three or four; I can’t remember exactly.

Initially, the skirmishes were tame. They would start out as brotherly grooming—Laptop ministering to Fred. Things were copasetic for a time…until Laptop (a head taller and five pounds heavier) began exercising his alpha-ness.

Laptop begins lovingly grooming Fred’s head and ears then, atypically, body slams Fred to the floor, deceptively licking all the while.

Laptop's deceptive "come hither"

Laptop’s deceptive “come hither”

Fred’s a lover not a fighter, so he complies. But somehow, during the body slam, Laptop maneuvers into a tactical spooning position over Fred as he licks. Fred complains ever so slightly until…with all four paws embracing Fred in a body hold, Laptop goes for the jugular.

If you could feel it, Fred’s screeching would send chills up your spine! The aftermath of cat fur looks like evidence of a feather pillow fight.

Here’s my SCI-approved device for interrupting an all-out fight, equivalent to the ding-ding-ding of the boxing round timer: an empty 16 oz. plastic water bottle loaded with 5-10 pennies.

Normally, a rigorous shake is enough to send them running in opposite directions. But, when the battle has reached a screeching fever pitch, it’s expedient to hurl the device into their midst.

Since I can’t hop out of bed to break up night skirmishes, I’m armed with three in my bed; otherwise, one is in my kitchen and one, in my office. There have also been surprise attacks when I have thrown whatever liquid was in my hand. Clean-ups suck!

I digress. This morning, Laptop had two of his “Submit!” demonstrations over Fred. I was semi-armed for the second.

The skirmish erupted in the kitchen at the east end of my six foot long table. I was at the opposite end without a grenade, but my vitamin bottles were out for my week’s daily dosages. I grabbed the nearest, shook it for all it was worth, like pulling the pin, and hurled it into the battlefield.

Well, this one wrought a triple whammy of distraction: the warning rattle, the explosive landing, and the shrapnel of 60 vitamins ricocheting everywhere.

It worked! But, instead of running for cover, they acted like drug-sniffing cats.

As penance for not screwing the cap on tightly, I picked up each capsule, one by one; and some, over and over and over. Sort of like writing on the blackboard: “I will tighten my vitamin bottle caps. I will tighten my vitamin bottle caps. I will tighten my vitamin bottle caps…”

I will not soon forget!