In Honor of World Lion Day

Our cat Sam snuggles on my legs as I relaxed on the couch in May 2018

Taken last spring as the oldest member of our pride adapted to his new desert home, learning to nap and snuggle in this arid landscape. Shot with my iPhone as Sam curled up on my legs as I relaxed on the couch. There are only a few of today’s technologies that it pains me we didn’t have in my youth, having a capable camera in your pocket is one of them.

Current Mood

An overhead view of our cat Boo sleeping on a blanket on the window seat with his head and arms stuffed into pillows in July 2019

I’ve been a bit worn out this past month and haven’t been hiking in a couple of weeks, we’ll see how this weekend goes. I’m not completely exhausted like I was when we moved and during the last weeks of Ellie’s life, and I haven’t had to work long hours, rather it’s just that there’s been a lot going on, a lot to learn, and it’s taken a bit out of me. It hasn’t helped that this past week the night owl has been reasserting himself, if only I could sleep like Boo! Thankfully while he was pretty stressed after Ellie died our resident philosopher has been doing better lately.

I Loved Her Eyes

Our dog Ellie looks to the side while sitting beside me on the couch while I watch football in October 2013

I loved her eyes.

I loved the way they lit up when she stuck her head around the door when I arrived home from work. I loved how much more expressive they became when the gray spread to her eyebrows. I loved the way she looked at me on our walks. Multiple people over the years stopped us to tell me how they loved the way she looked at me, how could I express how much I loved it too?

I loved how they showed the character of the dog beneath.

I loved how she’d look at me, then shift her eyes towards the closet where her treats were, then back to me. I’ve often wondered when she started doing it, how long it was before I realized she was doing it and how much longer before I understood what she wanted. She did it until the very end when I was a little more generous with the charcoal treats she wanted, as she could eat them even when her appetite for regular food was waning. She couldn’t move her legs very well but those eyes never had any trouble darting towards the treats.

Here she’s curled up beside me on the couch in the fall of 2013 as I watched football on a Sunday afternoon, the gray spreading across her face. How old she looked to me then, how young she looks to me now!

I Wonder How I Should Introduce Myself to Sam?

Our cat Sam sleeps on the bed as our kitten Boo looks at him from behind

Probably a sneak attack is best.

From 2013 after we adopted Boo, we kept him in isolation for a couple of weeks to let him build up his confidence and give the other pets time to adjust. The night before letting him into the house for the first time we let the other pets come into his room. Boo was eager to impress his older brother. Fortunately he did not follow through on his instinct to jump on Sam from behind.

Our kitten Boo looks like he is about to spring on our cat Sam from behind

A Slow Recovery

Our cat Sam sleeping on a blanket draped over my legs in February 2010

Hard as it is for me to believe, it’s been almost five weeks since Scout passed away. Her loss has been particularly hard on little Sam but he’s been making a slow recovery and is now nearly back to normal, or perhaps has reached the new normal. Sam loves snuggling on my legs (shown here a few years ago), to the point that if life were a cartoon I’d have permanent Sam-shaped divots on my legs. But after Scout died he’d only sit in my lap tucked up tight against my chest, as though he was huddling against the cold. After a couple of weeks he relaxed a bit and while still in my lap moved a few inches away, and then a few inches more, but he still stays so close that I can’t really work on my laptop.

I don’t know if he’ll return to sleeping on my legs or if I’ll have to adapt to his new position on my lap. Sometimes he’ll walk down to where he used to sleep but he’ll turn around and come back, so perhaps it’s just going to take a bit more time. He did go all the way down to my feet the other day, but not unaided. Our dog Ellie was snuggling up next to me as well and suddenly sat up and began licking him in the face. He put up with the indignity for a little while but when it was clear she wasn’t going to stop, he moved down to my feet until the coast was clear when she fell back asleep, and then he came back.

His purr has finally returned. It didn’t completely disappear after Scout died, but it got very quiet and hard to come by and didn’t last long. Just in the past few days he’s purred loud and long when we climb into bed at night, so he is definitely recovering.

So too am I.

Scout was my near and constant companion so when I’m at home even now her absence is clearly felt. After getting past that initial wall of grief in the days after she died, a shadow of sadness lurks and at unpredictable times I feel her loss most acutely. But that is at it should be, she was one of the best parts of my life.

With Sam snuggling too close for me to do much typing on my laptop, I’ve been catching up on a lot of old classic movies and British mysteries, usually with Sam on my lap, Ellie tucked up beside me on my right, with our other cat Emma a few feet to my left in her heated bed. Scout’s heated bed lies empty, and that in and of itself is surprising. Sam loved sleeping in her bed and I assumed after she died he’d take it over as his. But right after she died he’d only occasionally get in, then for a few weeks actively avoided it. Now he’s back to occasionally sleeping in it, but mostly it lies empty.

He has been sleeping in Ellie’s beds quite a bit, but that’s not unusual, he’s always done that. Emma has started doing it too, and I had to laugh the other day when both of Ellie’s beds near my office were full of cats and Ellie was scrunched up over on the floor beside them.

What a blessing they are, these little ones.