A few weeks ago our dog, Fiver, passed away from kidney failure. He and Bubba, our cat, had quite the love-hate thing going on, and alternately pestered and disciplined each other for one thing or another–mostly for our entertainment, I’d wager.
In the weeks since Fiver’s departure to the hereafter, which I’m sure in his case includes lots of trees full of squirrels to bark at and pickup trucks to ride in and pretty girls in drive-throughs to flirt with in exchange for fries, Bubba has done his utmost to pick up the slack.
There’s a certain dogginess to his actions now that wasn’t there before. Granted, Bubba has always marched to a different drummer, but he has some habits now that previously only Fiver (and his mother Zoey) used to do, like follow us around the house. If we get up from bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, Bubba escorts us exactly the way the dogs used to. Open the bathroom door and there he is, ready to walk me back to the bedroom by the glow of the nightlight in the hall.
He waits outside the door while The Tall Bald Guy takes a shower.
He sits, tall and patient, beside The Tall Bald Guy at dinner, his body a perfect “I’m-a-Good-Boy” triangle, hoping for a tidbit or two to be tossed his way.
He still has his normal kitty fits–that is, his “I-must-repeatedly-run-across-the-house-for-no-good-reason-and-nearly-smack-into-the-wall” fits, but now they end at the living room window, where he stands watch for a few moments, making sure no errant squirrels scamper unnoticed across the yard.
He always took notice if one of his humans was rustling around in the kitchen, but now he jumps off the couch and runs to see what we’re doing and if he can somehow benefit from it. He never did that before–I wonder if he and Fiver had a deal? “See here, mutt, you give them the face, and bring whatever you get back to me, see? I’ll give you your cut later. Now scram!”
I suppose it’s his way of taking care of us humans…perhaps he and Fiver had a conversation, much like the conversation I’m certain Zoey had with Fiver (and Tucker had with Zoey), about making sure we are protected from rogue squirrels and ensuring that regular patrols against who-knows-what continue and demanding that we don’t get so lost in all things human that we forget to look at the world from the point of view of something little and fuzzy and relatively helpless.
Perhaps someday soon we will bring another critter to the house to learn all that Bubba can teach them regarding the care and protection of these hapless humans that inhabit his home. Until then, Bubba will continue working two jobs, proving once again that it’s hard being little and fuzzy in this world.