I Am An Animal Hoarder
by Eve Livingston
Not really. Some might argue I have too many animals, and I’d rate myself as borderline whacko to live with the ones I do. How many are there, you might be wondering? 4. Three dogs (two of whom call me their own) and one cat. And, frankly, to be honest, I think I could convince you that my animals are hoarding me.
I mean, my God, they certainly work overtime to collect my attention, store my loving gazes (not to mention the prized butcher bones) greedily under the corner of the carpets, beneath the disheveled laundry lining the floor of the closet. I’ve seen each one of them go in there and dig out a morsel to chew on during those nights I’m most distracted, pecking away at this infernal, clicking black box.
“What the HELL are you doing there?!,” they seem to demand.
The youngest member of the pack, a muscly, endearing and enthusiastic newcomer to the world (having arrived at that challenging age of teenage dogdom), has a ritual: he sits staring at me while I type, positioned in the exact same pose, at the exact same 2.34567 feet from my lap, both very polite and very uppity. An impressively perfect balance between the two (the Russian judges would give him a 9.5), he barks at me in a muffled, low-pitched, half-bark. You teenage dog owners might be familiar with that whiny but dignified “hoof” sound. This gets my attention but does not provoke me to want to grab his muzzle to stifle him.
He does this over and over, in brilliantly measured rhythm. I think he designed torture chambers in a previous life. He employs cadence, pitch and timing with such perfection he would be useful as a canine metronome. He does this until I cannot help but give in to his (always reasonable) insistence that I’ve been at that clickety keyboard long enough, and he’s heard enough choruses of “…one more minute….I’ll be right there, I promise….”
It melts my heart, this cleverness of his. Despite his many faults, he’s got me dialed and he gives me just enough rope to work, work, work, and, when enough is enough, he drags my ass out the door to play, play, play.
The others seem to have him dialed, because they let him do all the dirty work. The minute they see him wrangle me off my intellectual perch, they bouncily follow in tow, the cat bringing up the rear. We move as a pack, and enter a world of imagination that would make a 5-year-old Maurice Sendak proud. I lose myself in the beauty of the natural environment and the Buddha-like charm of the animals as they celebrate their reprieve from boredom. The dogs play “let’s-chase-the-cat-up-a-tree,” and the cat plays “…yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ll humor you now, but you know what these claws can do, tough guys.” And all of this seems to set the natural world aright.
This is a serious topic, animal hoarding. I’m finding my way into it by levity, because I have to. But be forewarned: I’m actually on my way to having something much more serious to say about it. Soon. Perhaps after this next walk with my insistent, furry little love hoarders, whose fearless leader is pressing down upon me with his muffled and irresistible call to action.