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Posted July 2, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Roger Barbee: Animals know more than we think

By Roger Barbee

Cinithia and Mike were friends. They lived about a mile apart on a small graveled road that meanders near Passage Creek, but they shared much of their individual lives with each other and the life that develops over time when one lives alone. Larger chores at each house were taken on together, pet sitting when needed was a given, shared trips to the landfill were common, and favorite meals were shared as was quiet time next to Passage Creek in the calm of a valley evening. Separated by 20 or so years of age, their friendship grew into one that has the trust that can only be built through a sharing of life as we are sometimes forced to live it.

They both had animals. Her constant one is a mix of dog and red wolf. Several litters have been bred, trained, and sold, but that is past. Mike had cats, several cats. Some lived in the buildings and he fed them, but they were too feral for petting and companionship. However, one small black cat became his favorite. Sweetie Pie came in each night and slept with Mike. He made no pretense about him being his favorite -- he had a name and was invited in each night. Cinithia and Mike shared much in life, but the animals were kept separate for the obvious reason.

One Monday morning, several weeks ago, when Mike could not get ready for the day because he felt so ill, he called Cinithia, who came immediately. Rushed to the local hospital, he was diagnosed and transferred to another one. She was with him through the difficult day and called his brother when his situation became grim. That night, when Mike's heart could no longer do its work, she was there with him and his brother. The next day Mike's two children arrived. After all the business concerning personal affairs was settled, Cinithia agreed to take care of the cats until something could be decided. Thus, twice a day for the past several weeks she has gone to Mike's house to feed and care for his cats, especially Sweetie Pie, the small black cat. Both their lives, because of Mike's death, had changed -- one knew of his dying, one did not, but they both missed their friend.

The red wolf mix sleeps in the rooms with Cinithia. Two nights ago, at about 3 a.m., the animal made such a fuss that it woke her. Getting a light, Cinithia opened the closed door and followed her dog to the front porch. There, sitting at the lowest step was Sweetie Pie, looking up at Cinithia and her dog. Fearful that the dog might attack the small cat, she picked it up and brought it to the porch, all the while wary of the red wolf mix. There was no problem, they sniffed each other while Cinithia sat in the dark of the early morning wondering what to do. She was puzzled because as much as she knew, none of Mike's cats had ever been to her house, and this appearance of Sweetie Pie was so strange. However, it was too early to attempt any type of solution, so she began coaxing the two new animal friends inside so that she could get some sleep. After several attempts, she realized that they would not come in, so she did and managed to sleep until 5:30.

Upon rising, she went to the porch to check on the dog and cat, but the porch was empty of any animal. Confused, she made coffee and while drinking it thought to go the mile to Mike's house, where she found her dog curled up on the porch with Sweetie Pie. The other cats were close by, but not too close to the strange dog. It took her the morning, but she finally got her dog to leave the property and return home. Later, after setting up her house for the needs of a cat, she brought Sweetie Pie to her house. Now there are three, not two, sharing that space next to Passage Creek.

Oswald Chambers observed that, "There is more unexplained than explained." When he made that observation during the great war, he was discussing theology and humanity. However, he could have been discussing almost any facet of life. But, why does a cat walk to a house it has never been, sit at the steps, and anticipate that a red wolf mix will answer its silent call? Why would a cat and red wolf mix walk the mile to an empty house and sleep on its porch? There may be an answer, but I like to think that another friendship has been formed out of that of Cinithia and Mike.

Roger Barbee is a retired educator who lives in Edinburg with his wife Mary Ann, four dogs and five cats. Email him at redhill@shentel.net. See more at: http://www.nvdaily.com/columns

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