June 30, 2020

Pets: A Remedy for Lonely Solitude

Filed under: Uncategorized — ccassello @ 6:04 pm
This was my GeNarrations story for the Spring 2020 session on the subject of Solitude.

When I was I my teens, I longed for a day when I would have a place of my own. I wouldn ‘t have anyone telling me what to do, where to go, or when to come home. The only one to bear any consequences for my choices would be myself. I didn’t, however, get that freedom until both of my parents had died. My father in 1987 and then my mother in 1997 Now. I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely. I had three cats to care for and keep me company. We didn’t have them while Dad was alive but Mom and I took them in and now they were my sole responsibility.

The cats died, one by one, and I thought it was probably better for me to not have a pet. They were somewhat of an encumbrance. I couldn’t take t the cats with me when I wanted to go anywhere. I had no one to cat sit for me, so I had to be home to make sure they were fed.

When the last of the three cats had died, I had total freedom again and I enjoyed it for a time. But, I began to get lonely after a few years. I’d always had pets growing up and I missed having them to talk to and love and care for.

My first real pets were parakeets. My father had been very good at teaching them to talk and sit on his finger,or shoulder. I thought maybe I should try that. They were easier to care for and less expensive than dogs or cats. So, I bought a blue and white bird I named Tweeter, after a parakeet I had written a short story about. The bird, however, would not come on my finger or copy my speech. I lacked the patience my father had with animals.

When Tweeter died, I again spent a little time alone before deciding to try again , This time I bought a pair, because I heard they needed to have company and I did not spend a lot of time at home. Those two I named Twitter and Chitter. Since they had each other for company they weren’t interested in me, but I liked hearing them chattering to each other in the morning. I had them a couple of years . Twitter died first and the next year Chitter did. I again went without a pet but broke down and bought another parakeet I called Chatter. About a month later, I bought a companion bird for Chatter and named it Pratter.

One morning, when I went to check on them, I only found one bird. I searched all over but did not find the other one. A window in my apartment slips down from the top on windy days and there is no screen at the top. I saw that the window had opened and realized that the bird must have gone out through it. In another day or two, I did not find any birds in the apartment. I don’t know if Chatter saw Pratter and went to join him or if she just found out she could get out the window on her own, but I hope they found each other. I put their cage and food on the back porch hoping to entice them back, but I never did see them again and gave up. I was through with parakeets and I determined to go pet less.

I had been volunteering at Chicago Animal Care and Control and I felt that I could get my needs met doing that. Because the dogs there are mostly large, muscular breeds that I didn’t feel I could safely control to walk on a leash I preferred to stay in the room with the cats, and liked interacting with them, especially the younger ones. But I felt bad for the older ones owners have surrendered and people didn’t want to adopt. That ‘s how I wound up getting Squeakie.

About once a quarter the shelter has an event to try to get as many animals as possible out of there and into homes, so they waive the adoption fees for a weekend. Usually, they are very successful, bringing in many people and it ‘s great to see happy people taking happy animals to begin new lives together. It was at one such event that I met Squeakie. . After my Saturday volunteer shift, I mentioned on our volunteer Facebook page that I was considering getting another cat and asked for suggestions. Squeakie was mentioned. She was one of the older cats of 12 years and most people only want ed kittens or very young, playful animals, so she has been there longer than most and would likely remain there many more days..

I empathized with her, being a senior citizen and needing to have companionship and love, so I decided that if she was sill there I would go back to get her on Monday, The adoption fees were being waived for the rest of the month, so she would be free. That morning I checked the Pet Harbor page that shows what animals are available for adoption and she was still listed.

On September 10, I2019, I brought Squeakie home with me. She settled in very quickly. Squeakie likes to be close to me and loves being petted, even though she doesn’t sit on my lap. She sleeps in the bed with me and naps on a cat bed a volunteer gave me, or on the couch. We are good match, both about the same age and we each needed the love and attention of the other. It ‘s especially good to have her now that I am spending all of this time at home. I don’t feel lonely and I am pretty sure she doesn’t either.


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