Even I don't always agree with my opinion


Sophie & Me

Posted July 22, 2012 by jim young in Lifestyle

– jim young

I can’t believe that I have to hate anything and when I do, it will be out of fear and I’ll know it. – Bob Dylan

My dog doesn’t like me.

Well she’s really more My Shirley’s dog – ours, really.

But she still doesn’t like me. (Our dog. Not My Shirley.)

I knew this just a few days after we adopted her but that’s okay with me.

Sophie was rescued from a puppy mill. She literally spent the first year of her life in a cardboard box.

The bastards that have been running this puppy mill have been charged with animal abuse many times but somehow they keep operating. The last time they were charged, hundreds of dogs and cats had to be destroyed but the humane society let them keep some of their cows.

The barn, however, was in such ill repair it had to be torn down.

Is it just me or does that make zero fucking sense that they could keep their cows but not their barn?

But this story is not about the bastards that bred her, it’s about Sophie.

I figured Sophie just needed some time to come around and she would eventually realise that I’m not such a bad guy.

Like Boarder did.

Boarder was a stray cat that my wife took in.

I remember coming home late from work at Costco one night when My Shirley greeted me at the door and announced, “Before you take off your coat you should know we now have a cat.”

My Shirley says she didn’t really mean that as an ultimatum. It was more of a warning to somehow soften the blow when I met Boarder.

I’ve never really been much of a cat person but I accepted Boarder into our home.

And for the next 2 years, Boarder would run from the room whenever I entered. She must’ve somehow sensed I was not really a cat person.

But eventually we became buddies.

Good buddies.

And 14 years later after some last-minute-attempt at long-shot major surgery whose price tag was in the 4 digits, our vet suggested we consider the option of putting Boarder down.

I passed the buck on that decision and left it to My Shirley to make the call. “Don’t ask me,” I said, as I held Boarder close to me, tears welling in my eyes and a knot the size of a baseball in my throat, “I don’t even like cats.”

And even though Sophie loves My Shirley and hates me, I think I understand Sophie better than My Shirley does.

I think the reason Sophie has continued to hate me is because of fear.

It’s an unfounded fear of course but just as sometimes people don’t like each other, I have accepted that Sophie just doesn’t like me. And that’s her right.

I have never raised my hand in anger towards Sophie and I have always looked out for her best interests.

When Sophie ran away at our cottage and was lost in the woods for a week where she was prone to attacks from predators such as martens and hawks, I drove back to the cottage (4 hours each way) for 3 days searching through the fields and bush in stifling summer heat to find her and return her home to safety.

In a futile attempt to force a friendship between Sophie and me, Shirley will sometimes hold Sophie, bring her close to me and say, “See? There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Sophie doesn’t understand the words of course, but I think Sophie senses the issue is about fear and all this accomplishes is to reinforce that fear – just as we sometimes do with children.

When a child hesitates to go into a dark room it may be for a reason as simple as not being able to see. The parent sees the hesitation and says to the child “there’s nothing to be afraid of in the dark”. The child, who wasn’t afraid in the first place, now senses perhaps there in fact IS something to be afraid of in the dark.

Why else would the parent have needed to attempt to dispel the fear?

It isn’t a logical and thought out process, of course. It’s all part of our mysterious psyche at work.

And I believe animals – in particular pets that are close to their caretakers – have a strong psychic bond to their caretaker.

Too bad the communication gets all fucked up sometimes, just like 2 people having a real conversation.

Sophie comes to the screen door when we’re in the back yard.

My Shirley thinks Sophie is asking to come outside but what Sophie is really asking is for Shirley to come inside.

My Shirley carries her outside and justifies it because Sophie will run around the back yard sniffing at things, seemingly enjoying the outdoors. But even a prisoner stuck in a cell will make the most of his entrapment. And just like the prisoner that will take the first opportunity to escape, the second the door is open – Sophie will bolt for the comfort of the confines of her safe domain.

But she’ll be back at the door in a few moments – to ask My Shirley again to come inside. And the circle goes round and round.

Sophie is getting old now and her days are numbered.

She is growing deaf and her eyes are weak. When I enter the kitchen late at night and see her feeding from her bowl thinking she is alone, I will quietly retrace my steps and back out so as not to startle her when she turns around.

Although we have not been good friends over the years, I will be sad to see Sophie go. And it will hurt as much as when Boarder left us.

So if I have to experience that pain of separation again, it would’ve been nice if Sophie had liked me all these years – just a little.

– 30 –


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