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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

Seeing Red (Written 7/21/20)

I was out of sorts today.

For starters, it rained this morning. Steady, soaking rain which made chores miserable, and also made it impossible for me to do anything extra outdoors. The house dogs (all nine of them) were stuck indoors with me and had no outlet for all their typical energy. The entire morning routine was messed up, which meant that my entire day and attitude basically were, too.

Added to that was the deeper-level stress of my parents leaving for Maine tomorrow. I'm happy for them that they're going - they're hard-working people who don't spoil themselves often, and a trip to an island in Maine will be great for them.

The problem is that, when Mom and Dad are away, all kinds of things seem to go wrong here at my place. I don't know why, since it's not like they live here or even stop by every day. But regardless, when they're gone, crummy things just seem to crop up.

So my stomach was twisting in knots, the weather was nasty, the routine was botched. And the animals were getting on my nerves.

Just little, irritating things which, in and of themselves, wouldn't have been a big deal. But combined with each other and with everything else, they were winding me a little tighter each time.

The last straw was tripping over Dundee.

I was walking from the kitchen counter to the computer room. I had Cinder tucked against my chest, which meant that his black, curly back filled what little vision I have. And besides, I wasn't really looking anyway. It was just a few yards from point A to point B. Why try to watch where I was going? I just scooped up the dog and shuffled along.

And there was Dundee, flopped right out in the middle of the floor, directly in my path.

I simply do not understand how it is that a generally intelligent dog, trained his entire life, trained in fact to the utility level of obedience, who has lived with a blind person for ten and a half years, cannot get it into his head to stay out of the way. I do not understand this. I don't know how many times he has been tripped over, stumbled on, trampled, accidentally kicked, and very deliberately scolded. But it simply doesn't register.

He was there, he was in the way. He was also black, which meant that I didn't see him with Cinder's coal-colored coat in my face.

I executed a spectacular stumble, almost crashed to the floor, set Cinder down, and came up ready for war.

Stupid! I told Dundee as he scrambled for refuge onto the sofa. Stupid!

How dumb can you honestly be?

Yes, I do admit that I raised my voice. I didn't yell, but I spoke very loudly and firmly.

Animals scattered. Dogs went slinking in to corners and out the dog door. Cats melted away into back bedrooms and onto high shelves.

I continued in the same vein. And yes, I may even have slammed the front door. Twice as a matter of fact. Just to prove the point.

Deathly silence in the house. I strode back in to the computer room and flung myself down to read emails. Right then I had had enough of the animals, enough of the rain, enough of the stress. Everyone leave me alone, or else.

And everyone did, except for Mandarin.

Mandarin is a little red kitty who was live-trapped last summer as a feral kitten. It takes a soft touch and a lot of patience to sweeten up and socialize a feral kitty, and Mandarin has come a super long way in a fairly short amount of time. But he is a very gentle and sensitive cat who still startles easily. So after all my griping and stomping and door-slamming, he was the last one I would have expected to come to me.

But he was the first one who did, and he was the only one who could have reached me in that anxious and resentful state of mind.

I heard a soft trill at my left knee. Then felt two tentative paws on my left thigh. And then he was in my lap, purring and leaning against me.

Mandarin doesn't curl up in my lap. He drapes himself across my arms and tummy, making full contact with his whole body, including his tail. And he has a great purr.

My heart thawed in about ten seconds. I began to pet him - long, methodical strokes from head to tail. And he stretched out in my lap, still purring.

He stayed with me for ten or fifteen minutes until I was not only calm but even relaxed and smiling.

My special boy. Perhaps even more special and essential to me than I had realized.

There is an interesting post script to this story. About two weeks

later, I was stung on the index finger by a wasp as I did barn chores.

I'm generally not bothered by stings any more than the average person.

But for some reason, this sting made my entire right hand get a little

puffy. When I came back indoors, Mandarin jumped in to my lap and went

straight to that finger. He sniffed the entire hand and stopped purring.

He seemed uncertain and concerned, not sure whether to stay or go.

So I wonder, after seeing this kitty in action a couple of times now,

what kind of gifts and intuition he really has. Time will tell us more.

But for now, I'm glad my little red kitty is on the job.

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