Even short weekend vacations leave us to decide what to do with the animals. The animals: two dogs, one cat, and one goldfish. The two dogs have their own vacation; they are boarded at their favorite place. The cat, Sallie, and Goldie, the goldfish, were given lots of attention (well, maybe Sallie was) by a friend who fed, petted and even watched T.V. with Sallie snuggled on her lap; her kitty arm hugging her foster human. (Face it; there is only so much attention you can show a goldfish.) How would they respond when we came back, even after it was a short period of time? Animal owners know that their four-legged family members have personalities. Would our furry children pout? Would they be excited when we came back?
On picking up the dogs from being boarded, Judgie, our Shih Tzu /Poodle mix, jumped over a short gate (it had to be short with his little legs) after he heard Daddy drive up. As happy as they were to be on their own vacation, they were exuberant, judging by all of the tail wagging, to see their family.
Upson County is full of animal lovers. Cute little faces peer up from the newspapers begging for adoption; and Facebook constantly posts dogs and cats desiring a home. Then when you turn into WalMart, usually on most weekends, are families trying to find homes for kittens and puppies. I rarely go over to look as I know I don’t want my heart melted by big, adoring eyes. Sorry, no more room at the Cliffs.
Just as humans have distinct personalities with the ability to love and be loyal, so do animals. I’ve heard wonderful pet stories from people in the community. Some say to give human characteristics to animals it to anthropomorphize. I’ll never be moved to change my opinion that animals feel emotions and have attributes similar to humans: both positive and negative. Bullying has been in the public view lately. Sallie Cat knows all about being an occasional bully. Now, to her credit, most of the time, she gets along wonderfully well with the dogs, but sometimes she becomes a little bully. Rarely does she pick on Judgie, the male, but focuses her attention on the female dog, Cocoa, a miniature dachshund/Chihuahua mix.
One of Cocoa’s favorite games is for her to bring her favorite toy (a brown misshapen soft pie-like toy) to us to pull it out of her mouth and then throw it. From the living room, we throw the toy into the adjoining dining room. There she went, joyously chasing her toy. Cocoa practically slides under the chairs to retrieve it. Only, one night, she didn’t come back for us to throw it again. Very odd; this was not like her at all. She carefully and slowly headed back toward us without her toy. What was going on? Then we saw the problem. Sallie Cat was hiding behind the wall between the dining room and living room. That cat was waiting on Cocoa to pounce and Cocoa knew it. “Come on Cocoa,” we coaxed, thinking that maybe this was not what Sallie was going to do. No. She sure was. She pounced on the poor dog causing her to run like a bullet our direction, jump on the couch where we sat, and hid behind us. “Bad Sallie Cat! You leave Cocoa alone.” We have a little water bottle, if she gets too nasty with Cocoa and she’ll get a brief spritz. She stops her bullying, and sits across the room eyeing her beloved “Daddy” with the water bottle, with a definite mad gleam in her eye. But she left the dog alone.
However, Cocoa has a loyal friend: Judgie. One day I heard a yelp from Cocoa and I hurried into the living room to see Judgie placing his body between Cocoa and Sallie. Basically, he was saying, “I’ve got your back, Cocoa!” It is not the first time he has stuck up for Cocoa. Sallie always backs off.
To be fair to the cat, most of the time, she loves her doggy family. She will kiss both of them tenderly, and sometimes the three of them will snuggle on the Lazy Boy chair and fall asleep. Animals have a deep capacity to love.
Compassion is imbued in their nature. When any of us are sick, the dogs and, from time to time, Sallie Cat will snuggle up on the bed or couch to comfort the poorly human.
Scientists have long-debated whether or not animals have emotions. In recent years, the scientific community has become increasingly supportive of the idea of emotions in animals.
It doesn’t take years of research in the Scientific Method to verify animals’ emotions. Just spend a few hours in the home of an animal lover, and sit back and enjoy the show.
Penny Cliff is the Chief Archivist at the Thomaston-Upson County Archives, and an Adjunct Faculty member in the History Department at Gordon State College in Barnesville.