Twenty

Our cat Scout sits beside the catnip on our back porch in Portland, Oregon on May 6, 2005. Original: IMG_8116.cr2

Twenty years ago a feral cat gave birth under the house of one of my wife’s friends, the mother soon disappeared so the family raised the kittens until they were old enough to adopt out. We were offered one of the last of the litter and named our tiny tuxedo Scout. I’m close to all our pets but even so Scout and I had a deep bond, sadly cancer took her from us after 12 years but I’m thankful for every day we spent together. I’ve been having off-and-on trouble sleeping lately but it was never as hard as when I came back from a long hiking trip, she’d wake me up throughout the night either to reassure her that I was well and truly home or to tell me I was never to leave her side again, I’m not sure which.

She was four in this picture, sitting beside her favorite catnip plant on the back porch.

Sweet Dreams

An overhead view of our dog Ellie sleeping on the back porch of our rental house in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2018

Last night I dreamt I was petting Ellie, I kept asking her “How are you here?” as I stroked her chest and rubbed her head. She didn’t reply (now that would have been telling) but she looked at me as she did in life, as though being with me made her the happiest pup alive. I decided I didn’t care how she was there, only that I would appreciate every moment for as long as she was, it was one of the sweetest dreams I’ve ever had.

Makes up for the night before when I dreamt I was getting relentlessly attacked by flying scorpions.

My Porch Buddy

Our dog Ellie sleeps on the concrete beside her dog bed on our porch at our house in Scottsdale, Arizona in April 2019

We developed a ritual, the pup and I, during our year in Arizona. I’d go hiking in the morning on my days off and when I got back I’d heat up a breakfast sandwich, grab my laptop bag, and we’d go out onto the porch for a little rest & relaxation as I wrote in my hiking journal about my experiences that morning. Ellie would eagerly watch me eat as I always gave her a little bit of cheese and egg and bacon/sausage at the end. Only a sliver as her kidneys couldn’t take too much protein but she always appreciated the gesture. After she died it became hard to continue the ritual, I forced myself out onto the porch at first but it took longer before I could eat a breakfast sandwich, even now it is a little difficult sometimes. Because she was deaf in her senior years I could sometimes sneak past her when I got home from the hike so I could wake her when my hands were free and I could help her up, for I knew as soon as I started heating the sandwich she’d wake as nothing got past that nose.

Also, as you can see from this picture and the previous one, though we got her these shoes to help her get up and move about the house, the pup was pretty good about getting out of them so you’d find them scattered about the house once she woke up.

Semi-Retired

A close-up of our dog Ellie sleeping beside my Tom Bihn ID laptop bag on our porch at our new house in March 2019

I took this picture a week after we moved to the new house with the intention of it being a light-hearted post about how, like many in Arizona, my laptop bag was living a semi-retired life. I drive to work now and don’t need my laptop there so I no longer sling the bag over my shoulder each day as I used to in Portland when I walked to the train. Instead it keeps my stuff organized beside my couch during the week and on the weekends joined Ellie and I as we went out on the porch after my morning hike. The bag holds my 15″ MacBook Pro, my iPad, my hiking journal, my pens, my headphones, and some field guides as I learn about Arizona’s plants & animals. I held off on posting it, partially because I was so busy and partially because Ellie’s health was declining. Now though it’s a nice reminder of our good times together even as her time was running out.

King of All I Survey

Our cat Templeton sits on the top of the table on our porch in our backyard in Portland, Oregon on May 6, 2005. Original: IMG_8106.cr2

Templeton loved his outside time and if he wasn’t exploring the sights and smells of the backyard, he’d usually sprawl out in the grass for a catnap. But he also liked being in high places and couldn’t resist the occasional climb to higher elevations to survey the kingdom. This was especially true if I was enjoying a bowl of cereal at the table, he’d wait until I was distracted and then the sounds of slurping would bring me back to attention, Templeton face down and going to town on the milk.

Oh how I loved you little one.