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All You Need Is Love

by Siiri Paton

Humans have kept animals of their own for quite a while. True, they canŐt speak or communicate in ways intelligible by human beings, but something about their undying compassion and loyalty truly make their presence worthwhile. George Carlin once said that "pets are a tragedy waiting to happen." Of course they don't live forever, but their life and what you personally experience of it is irreplaceable.

Throughout my life, my family and I have owned dogs, cats, fish, pigs, ducks, chickens, roosters, and our house has been a nice cozy home for mice and a picturesque family of flying squirrels for as long as I can remember. The fact that my parents kept animals around me for my entire life has greatly contributed to my sheer love for them. The first animal I was around the most was Bessie, a black lab. Bessie was one of the sweetest looking black labs I had ever seen (of course, I may be a little biased). Her faced showed the expression of light and energy, as well as a sense of caring. She would waddle right up to me all the time, sticking her face against whatever part of my body that she could reach and snuggle until I either pushed her away or gave in to her lovey-dovey attitude. One of the things I remember most about her, though, was her eyes. Her eyes were the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen — they always had that little sparkle in the them when she lifted her head to look up at you, as if to be saying all the time, "Will you be my friend?"

The only reason I know that she was around when I was a baby was because there's a videotape of me when I was about two, sitting outside with my parents and playing with a little black puppy. My mom was at the camera, giving orders to my dad of where I should be allowed to go and occasionally talking to me as well. Bessie, as rambunctious as she was, jumped around all over the place and was anxious to play with the baby that was in front of her. At one point she knocked me down and my outrageously cute bonnet fell off. She proceeded to pick it up in her mouth and drag it all over creation — eventually, my dad snatched it up from her. Upon placing the hat back on my head, my dad realized that there was a bunch of prickers in it, now stuck to my hair. Thanks, Bessie.

Another pet that sticks out in my mind was our gorgeous calico cat, Princess. My mother got Princess when she was in her mid to late twenties as a kitten. By the time I was born, she was already well past ten or twelve. Princess was primarily white with brown and gray spots covering her body. Her face, always plastered with the most beautiful, regal expression (figure out why she had that name?) was complemented with her amazing green eyes. This cat had the most distinct meow that you've ever heard. In an attempt to write out the noise, it sounded almost like, "Mer-woaowwww!" As you can probably figure, we always knew when she was approaching.

Princess stayed with us for quite a while. One day, though, we realized she wouldn't stay perfect forever. My mother saw her walking along the hallway upstairs next to the staircases, and noticed that she nearly walked off and fell down the stairs until my mother yelled at her to stop. It was really a downer to realize that she had gone blind and we had no idea for how long. It wasn't a horrible tragedy, though. For the longest time I would sit in the library, where her little bed was, and put the movie "A Bug's Life" in the computer to watch. It was always so astounding how Princess would react to the movie itself; she would curl up on her bed, settle down, and calmly close her eyes and listen to the sounds of the birds chirping and the music fading in during the opening scenes. Before Princess went blind she was allowed to go out on our screened porch and occasionally sit with my mother while she smoked her cigarettes. She would simply sit there, on a cushioned chair, for various amounts of time and listen to the noises of nature around her — birds chirping, chipmunks rustling the leaves on the ground, everything that made noise. The reason, we think, why Princess calmed down so well at listening to "A Bug's Life" is because she began to make the connection of the movie's noises to the sounds she heard on calm, clear days she spent outside. Despite her being blind, we always watched that movie together.

Soon after, though, Princess passed away. The house itself didn't seem as empty, though, because ever since I was six we've had my little tabby cat, Rebecca. Now if this isn't the most vain cat you've ever met, I'll spare questioning your pet history. One day my mother picked me up from kindergarten and told me that we were going to get a new kitten. Needles to say, I was quite ecstatic. Shortly after we drove to a house in Royalston, MA, where we were greeted by a woman at the front door. The woman and my mother exchanged a few words, she happily let us inside. At this point, my eyes grew wide. There were cats EVERYWHERE. "No wonder she's giving them away for free," I thought. There were dozens upon dozens of kittens, running every which way, mewing, and scrambling for food dishes. Here and there I saw a few mother and father cats, slowly walking about, looking purely exhausted. The first kitten I laid my eyes on was a small, cute, fluffy black cat. That would have been the one I had chosen, but it ran away from me, and I knew in my six-year-old mind that I was far too good for a cat that runs away from me. Then, after going through a few, I picked Rebecca. She was the tiniest kitten for her age, and remains rather petite to this day. She's tinier than normal, about the size of a six year old (and she's now twelve). Since we got her when I was young, I made sure to pamper her and give the most attention I possibly could, because this cat is the first pet that has ever been mine and mine alone. When I go home on the weekends, one of the first things I do is drop off my things and find my cat. Her fur is so soft, it's such a comforting feeling to run your hand down her back — it really makes me feel at home. Rebecca is such a comforting animal; she can sense whenever I feel sad or physically ill, and she'll come right up to me and curl up beside me. Also (it sounds crazy) I talk to her all the time. Pets are one of the best listeners available, because they don't judge what you say (and they don't talk back!). Although you can't pick a favorite animal among many, she's definitely a favorite to me.

One last animal I feel is definitely worth mentioning is my father's dog, Dax. He brought Dax home one year after we got Rebecca, so they were both the same age. The reason that my father was able to get his hands on Dax is because he originally was going to be trained to be a seeing-eye dog, but he was far too playful to go through with the training; he basically flunked out of dog school. He was the sweetest dog — upon seeing him for the first time I instantly fell in love with him. He was a beautiful German Shephard with fluffy brown, black, and tan fur with the most beautiful deep brown eyes. My father tried to train Dax to be a search and rescue dog. Surprisingly, he was too playful for that as well. This dog was definitely a one-man dog — he was around wherever he went, moving when he moved, sleeping when he slept. He would always wait by the door for him to return from his day at work.

The most depressing thing, though, was when my parents decided to divorce. My father stayed somewhere else for a few days, unexpectedly, and didn't take Dax with him at that time. He would just sit at the door with sad, glistening eyes, waiting for him to come back. At that time, we all really knew that he was going to stay with my dad no matter what.

Most times, pets' deaths are depressing, sad, tragic, etc. Dax's time came unexpectedly this past August. My father returned home from work to his house to see Dax waiting for him, as usual. He acted perky, happy, and normal for about ten minutes. Then he started to act a bit funny; keeping his head towards the ground, moving slow, breathing in a very shallow manner. My dad called Jeff, his best friend and fellow dog lover/trainer. Jeff suggested that my father place an ice pack on Dax's head and move it to his neck, and any other vital places on his body. At this point, Dax had stumbled to the ground from trying to move — my dad had helped him back on the floor to rest. My dad remained on the phone with Jeff until Dax's breathing continued to slow down and progressively his body weakened. Eventually his breathing completely stopped altogether.

His passing, we've all agreed, was definitely unexpected and sad; we miss him so much. His happy demeanor always brightened the room — his fluffy fur was so soft and comforting to touch (despite the fact that he had so much extra fur when he was brushed you could practically make another dog); not to mention he would go crazy over the light of a flashlight on the floor, which was hilarious to watch. However, his passing, no matter how sad, was a beautiful thing. We wouldn't have wanted him to go in any other way; it was so peaceful and gentle, just like he was. The most perfect part about it, though, was that he waited for my father to get home.

English Composition 1, Fall '07