animals, Just bitchin'

#JeSuisChien…I Am Dog


By now, if you follow Twitter, you’ve seen the massive trend #JeSuisChien.

For those who don’t know, it honors a French police dog named Diesel who perished in this week’s raid on a terrorist cell in the wake of the Islamic State attack on Friday the 13th in Paris.

What you might not have seen is the somewhat feeble backlash. There have been those who question the ‘morality’ of the outpouring of grief on a dog’s behalf when no such phenomenon accompanied the deaths of individual humans. And there have been some who openly laugh at how twisted they believe the world to be when an animal is honored above men.


My first, gut reaction to these backlashers was anger, because their opinions don’t mesh with my own. But after the initial emotional glitch, I had to give their words some thought. They are opinions after all, and have every right to be voiced.

So…why does the death of a police dog elicit such a deep welling of pure sorrow? Why does the death of a human make my heart sore for a moment, but that of an animal sticks with me and shatters that same heart in a howl of grief?

Well…I’ve never been mugged by a dog, but I have by a man. A dog has never jumped out of the shadows with a knife and stabbed me. A man has. A dog has never broken into my apartment. A man has.

But that’s not enough of a reason.

Think deeper.

When a dog misbehaves, I can usually understand why. Not so with humans. Mankind is capable of a depth of depravity unequaled by other denizens of the animal kingdom.

Man is the only creature capable of true cruelty. Animals don’t have it in them.

Some people will say cats are cruel…the way they play with a mouse instead of killing it outright. That’s instinct. Mankind’s cruelty is by choice.

There’s a tremendous difference.

So, as unbalanced as it may seem to some, I will continue to be more deeply affected by the death of a dog than seems appropriate. I will trust animals more readily than humans. I will welcome a dog into my life more quickly and wholeheartedly than a person who must earn my trust over time.

And even though it was started a bit tongue-in-cheek, I am touched by #JeSuisChien and the gallant animal whose demise it honors. Because just as cruelty abounds in humans more than any other member of the animal kingdom, the opposite is true of nobility.

Dogs have it in spades. Precious few humans do.

RIP, Diesel.


Just bitchin', paranormal

On Little Cat Feet…


blogfog1A strange thing happened.

Various explanations have been advanced. They reflect the philosophical bent of the speaker rather than provide definitive answers.

‘There are ley lines beneath your house…’ ‘Magnetic fields…’ ‘A nexus of sea, land and air…’

‘You are haunted…’

At three in the morning I was awakened by the long, slow, sonorous sound of a fog horn. I lay still, waiting for its call to repeat, wondering why, in six years at this locale, I haven’t heard it before. A glance out the bedroom window showed me no stars. The wide, dark, undifferentiated sky might indeed be a wall of mist. No lights were visible on the far shore of the inlet on which I live. Probably masked by fog.


The horn lows again; its sorrow pouring out into the night. It’s supposed to be an alert to fog-bound ships and travelers. But this sounds more like mourning than warning; something too late to divert disaster.

I lay back and listen, my mind drifting among stories of the sea. Shipwrecks. Drownings. Hair turning shock-white overnight. Clinging to wreckage. Floating for days. Never found. Lost…lost…lost… Gravestones over empty plots. Bones resting beside coral reefs in anonymous, seabed tombs.

Some of these colorful, legendary tales incite suspicion in the light of day. But tonight, under the spell of fog with the soft wash of waves mere feet away from my window, my throat tightens at each welling of the horn.


With dawn, the sky is clear, the day crisp.

I wonder about the lighthouse that kept such faithful vigil through the night. I search the internet. I pore over maps and information about the area’s beaches and shipping lanes.


It has been a century at least since a lighthouse operated along this section of coast.

I have no explanation…

…but I will be forever listening in the night.


Just bitchin'



When it comes to my pets, I have always been one of those people.

You know the kind: the ones who take guardianship of their fur-children very, very seriously indeed. The ones who always have a weather eye out for any slight change in demeanor or habits. The ones who pounce on opportunities to better the all-too-short lives of their charges.

It’s a gradual evolution.

You begin as a child who loves the family pet. The child who can’t sleep without Fido or Fluffy nestled close. The child who sobs uncontrollably when their fur-sibling eventually departs, often becoming the first lesson in the incalculably final loss that death bestows.

And then you learn the corollary: that loss does not end the heart’s capacity to love. So another pet pads its way into your life and the pattern of lifelong companionship begins.

I’m unaware of exhibiting overt signs of the fierce protectiveness that has evolved with the advent of each successive fur-child. But now I’m wondering if I’ve gone attitude-blind; if I emit something akin to a rank odor that warns the rest of humanity to give me a wide berth.

This dawning suspicion reared its head following today’s annual vet appointment for my oldest cat, Ebony.


Having owned animals all my life, I consider myself a connoisseur of veterinarians. I know what they should ask. I know how they should present themselves. I’m very, very picky and have no qualms about abandoning a doctor who doesn’t meet my stringent requirements.

But this is the first time a vet has quietly stood to the side and asked me how I’d like things to go. Exam first and shots after? Or vice versa? Or maybe the Benadryl shot for allergies first to mellow the cat out, and then exam, and then final shot?

I am impressed. I opt for exam first and then shots, knowing how my cat will be hyper to get away once needle pierces skin.

It isn’t until after I leave, cat in tow, that I realize the entire staff is behaving with extreme caution, because they recognize the most dangerous of all animals is in their midst.

The Mom-Of-Fur-Children.

Shudder in her presence, for she will stop at nothing to protect her own…