I have made a move from Quidi Vidi to Patrick Street for a few days. I am undertaking a responsibility that is very foreign to me. I asked for my instructions to be written to me as if I was a 3 year old. I consulted various sites on the internet in preparation for emergency. I sweat and worried but here I am.
I am dogsitting.
There is a cat, too. But she may as well not be here. She likes to hide in dark corners and as long as her bowl is full and I let her sit on the table, she is ace.
There two small dogs belonging to my host and a big dog belonging to her friend. I know my friend is nice because she is. I know her friend is nice because she left me cabbage rolls and a detailed letter about the preparation of Tass’ food. He’s old and finds it hard to chew, and the simplest way I can describe his food preparation is to say that it involves boiling water and grating a carrot.
The cabbage rolls were delicious.
I haven’t had many pets. We had budgie birds growing up. My mom liked them and they were fairly easy to deal with. My primary school crush had a budgie bird, too. He called my house on an occasion in Grade 1 to tell me his budgie died and to offer me his food. I politely declined and said I was sorry for his loss. Then I promptly hung up the phone. He was my love but I was a very serious child. I didn’t say a hell of a lot before Grade 7. Strong silent type.
My mother used to put the bird cage in the bathtub and slide the bottom out. She would use the hand held shower head to give the budgie bird a little bath. It was great fun for the bird, and my mom used to say that it must have felt like going to a budgie spa. That activity ended when Buddy the Budgie passed away after one of these spa getaways. My mother deduced that he must have caught hypothermia, which I don’t even know is possible in the species. Either way, Buddy passed, we mourned and that was the end of budgie birds in our house.
Then Amanda got a goldfish. Henry o’ Fish. She took him to the bath to clean his bowl. She’d let him flop around for a few seconds in the tub while she rinsed the bowl, which now seems to be an unintentionally cruel manoever for a 11 year old girl. One time, he flopped and flopped until he flopped straight down the drain. He basically committed suicide. It was a big surprise, as he wasn’t that close to the drain and wasn’t flopping for long. He just caught some good air and did a perfect nosedive down the drain. Was he unhappy? He seemed like he was always having a good time. Or as good of a time as doing laps around a tiny fishbowl must be. Either way, Henry passed, we mourned and that was the end of goldfish in our house.
Then we got a dog. Our neighbours dog had a bunch of puppies and our mom let us take one. It was excellent. I named him Cassidy and he was my bud. He was a mutt and grew so big, much bigger than his mother and his brothers who were scattered about the few houses lining the highway. I was very proud of him for that. He was strong and kind and didn’t smell bad. At all. Living by the highway, we couldn’t let Cass run free. When he was outside, he had to be on leash, which I thought was just fine. One day, only about 6 months after we got him, I came home from ballet and Cassidy wasn’t there. I asked my mom what happened and she said that a nice farm owner was walking by and offered to take him to his farm. My mother said that she felt it was the best thing for Cass, and that he was going to be so very happy there. I now understand that he probably just got free and ran out to the highway. And I’ve never questioned her about it since.
Pause. I am calling my mom to ask her.
Game on. I just hung up the phone and now know what happened.
She asked me if I really wanted the truth. And I did.
“He went to the farm.”
One of Cassidy’s brothers used to come over and steal his food from the yard. There was little we could do unless we caught him. My mother came home from work that day and found that Cassidy had been attacked. Mauled. He was in pain. He was almost gone. She figured it was a fight with his brother. She called a man. A farmer. And he took him to farm. To put him down. To save him from pain.
I am happy to know the truth. Times like these really alert you to the amount of work that happens behind the curtain. As a parent, you have to keep some secrets. It takes such strength though. Every parent I know has a few secrets. I am so happy she told me. My heart broke a little but I think I always knew. I knew he passed, but I could never have guessed how.
Either way, Cassidy passed, we mourned and that was the end of dogs in our house.
I sat down to write this, and it turned out so differently than I imagined. That phone call changed the course of this story.
Cassidy was an awesome dog. I am really happy to have some pets today. Even just today.
My animal kingdom.
~ I have to add to this post some great quotes from tonights confessional with Roxy Moss, my mother.
In regards to showering Buddy the Budgie:
“I had to shower him. That bird had terrible hygiene. I bought every type of mirror and placed them around the cage to try to get him to have some respect for himself.”
In regards to burying Buddy the Budgie:
“You planned an elaborate funeral. I had to give him my jewelry box. And you spent an hour placing his body just so in the jewelry box casket. Eventually you put him in the corner saying “I will put him up here so there is room in case friends drop by.” You were so serious.”