Seal Eyes

My wife and I are dog lovers…and not to leave out their nemeses, we also share our lives with two cats; Anna, a calico and Molly, a tortoiseshell. They have been around for quite a while and have put up with numerous dogs we have taken in to invade their territory. The dogs have proven to be as curious about the cats as much as the cats have been curious about everything else in the world. Our dogs have learned that getting too close to this creature, able to increase its body size by two or three time and that resides under the bed until night time, is not something to do; get close enough and they begin to leak air, which could be toxic, through a vicious set of teeth; making them all the more interesting and confusing. But, being cats, they do have other defensive mechanisms they present to the dogs when they get too curious as to what the cats actually are.

We had a dog named Zoey; huge and as tender as a newborn…well kitten. She was always curious and would snuffle Molly whenever Molly would sit still long enough for her to get close. Although not cuddle buddies, there was an understanding. Anna on the other hand had an effect on Zoey that was truly humorous. One hundred and ten pounds of dog would turn into one hundred and ten pounds of stone whenever Anna climbed on to the bed near her, expelled a little air to announce her presence and commence to stretch out and secure three quarters of the bed that Zoey wasn’t occuping and give Zoey a look that said “Mine…. Yours.” Zoey, frozen to her spot would sit in an uncomfortable position for extremely long periods of time, with the look of a baby seal on her face, only her eyes moving keeping Anna in view and looking for an exit.

At the same time we had Zoey we had another dog, Wiley and they both adored trips to the coast. The cats enjoyed these trips just as much. Large bowls of food and water were placed around the house and the cats wandered about freely and slept wherever they felt without the worry they were going have to scratch the air around the faces of other animals who invaded their space…they were content.

Zoey on the other hand was glad to be rid of the cats and able to run and play at length, playing chase with lizards and ground squirrels…playmates who didn’t leak sounds of warning and toxic air and did not have retractable claws to shred the air around her face.

On one such trip to the coast, Zoey ran and played chase with her new playmates, sprinted up and down hills of sand, rolling and tumbling with Wiley. A rest in the dune grass, a bowl of water and off they would both go on another adventure. Always…well almost always…on voice command they would never wonder far. But, well, naturally the fun and excitement of the day led us deep into the dunes and away from our camp. With aching bones and feet from chasing the dogs at play, the setting sun painting the sky and a chilly breeze blowing in from the ocean, we headed back. Zoey lay down for what we thought was a much needed rest, but refused to get up. With encouragement she got to her feet and began to walk and limp in the sand…all legs and paws giving out on her. We checked her for stickers and grass cuts on her feet but there were none. More encouragement and she tried again but only traveled a few feet.  By manipulating her paws, we discovered that she should have been wearing orthopedic doggie shoes; especially made for an all day romp in the sand…she wouldn’t budge another inch as long as the sand pushed and spread her paws and caused pain with every step. She lay in the sand with her ‘seal eyes’ imploring us to run to the store and purchase doggie shoes, but preferably a human powered doggie sled, to get her back to camp. Of course at this hour, all the stores lining the sand dunes providing such products or rent-able services were closed. She looked at me with eyes that asked “What were you thinking, bringing me all the way out here in the sand without giving a thought to my welfare?”

Only one solution presented itself…pick her up and carry her through the remaining half mile of sand to the hard dirt path through the woods bordering the dunes.

Carefully bracing my arthritic knees and weak back I hoisted her dead weight – 110lbs of black and tan, dobie-shepherd, lap-dog mix into my arms and carried her back to camp. She would periodically look over her shoulder and give me those “baby seal eyes”, a lick of gratitude on my cheek and let out a sigh of contentment.

When we came home from the trip Anna gave us the questioning look asking, “What! You couldn’t have just left her?”

Zoey climbed to her place on the bed for a much needed several days of convalescence being sure that she kept her seal eyes on that cat, kept to her one quarter of the available space and dreamed of chasing, lizards, squirrels and her buddy Wiley.

When I or my wife would check on her, Zoey would give us those eyes, lick our hands in gratitude, let out a sigh of contentment, and ignore the cat and return to dream land.

I myself think she was faking it all…but what the heck…girls can always melt the resolve of even the strongest man with those “seal eyes.”

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