Sunday, April 4, 2010

Musings: What We Want

A scuffle on the porch and Koko, barking furiously in the bedroom, alerted me to danger, which was confirmed when I looked out the window. Two neighborhood dogs were running, each carrying one end of my cat, and a third dog loped alongside, rounding out the pack.

Leaping over the porch railing, I shouted and ran after them, and reluctantly they dropped her in the brush and took off. I climbed down into the valley in front of my house, calling her name, wondering how I would locate her in the dense thicket. She answered with two loud meows that led me to her.

She was face down, and when I tried to move her, she cried out in pain, so I let her be, and instead stroked and soothed her. Two neighbors had arrived, one the owner of one of the dogs, and he said he was sorry and wondered how my cat was and I said not good, which I’m sure he also knew when she raised her head, unnaturally wide-eyed, mouth in a strange grimace.

I sent him away and with stayed with her, because I knew she didn’t have long, and she didn’t, maybe 10 or 15 minutes of going through her death throes, and then she was gone, but still I kept on petting her.

I finally carried her up the hill and began digging her grave, and as I did, I got to thinking, about my neighbors, and their desire to let their dogs run free, and how we all want what we want, myself included, but our actions, our choices, have ramifications, implications for others, that so often we’d prefer to pretend not to think about or see.

And it seemed the only way to avoid that dilemma is to live a life that’s aware and pono, or else make the decision, consciously or otherwise, that we just don’t care, and the latter is so much easier when we don’t know, or like, the other person(s) upon whom our desires are impinging.

Anger ebbed and flowed; I was, but I didn't want to be, causing me to think of how much easier it is to contemplate forgiving the transgressions of those we know, or like, and I wondered how we could learn to extend that same generosity of spirit to the unknown others, and the known and disliked others.

As I dug, grief welling up in me, I thought about the trauma I’d experienced seeing the attack, watching her die, and it made me think about all the soldiers and civilians embroiled in the hell of war, suffering unimaginable traumas, unfathomable grief, and again it is because the so-called “leaders” want what they want, without thinking about, or knowing about, or caring about how it impacts others.

I thought about the cat who was so dog-like that I changed her name from Jet to Poochie, and all the things that had happened in my life during the 13 years she was in it, and how strange it was that not even 24 hours before, I’d picked her up from a friend’s house, where she’d been living the past few years, and now she was gone forever.

As the shovel bit into the soil, through layers of humus in various stages of decomposition, I thought of how digging a grave is an apt metaphor for living a conscious life: clearing the ground, cutting away the surface entanglements, moving through sections of gravel and soft soil, hitting a rock and thinking you can go no further, then slowly working it free, and finally removing it, and from there it’s all loose, easy digging for a while, until you hit another rock, or decide to stop going.

And it seemed to me that in living our lives, we are essentially digging our own graves, and I knew I wanted mine to be deep and clean and wide, in soil enriched and darkened by the processes of death and regeneration, and that’s the kind of grave I dug for Poochie, and laid her in, but not until she’d grown cold, and tucked the soil gently around her and spread the leaves back over the bare, damp soil and covered it with two concrete block peace signs, just to keep her safe.


Andrew Cooper said...

A tough read tonight. I have buried a few cats over the years. It is always hard performing this ritual for a companion that has shared your life for many years.

I will be interested in hearing more of your thoughts about the freedom of the dogs and their responsibility for the cat's death. But I suspect that will have to wait for another, less emotion charged, posting.

Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your loss

Dawson said...

Joan, words fail to say my sorrow for what you are going through.

I can only offer kudos that in such a moment of grief, your thoughts are those of an authentic human for the grief of other humans.

Anonymous said...

ya that is not good. so sorry. my blood would boil. i love kitties. the leash law here is a joke. ive had to threaten people to come pick up the trash their dogs throw around on my lawn (as cute as the dogs are). but one cant do much more than be as nice to pets as is possible, for as long as they are around

and did not some dogs recently kill some pigs that were fenced in and part of school kids farming project? pretty uncool to those kids

the island needs a dog catcher


Anonymous said...

It's a sad story :(
Poor Poochie. I'm just so sorry that happened when it could have been avoided so easily by a bout of responsible dog ownership.
It really was interesting how you tied that theme of action and consequence in and related it with war. A very significant point.

Anonymous said...

Feeling your sadness...........Big hug to you.........

Anna Stone said...

I am sorry for your loss of Poochi.
Hopefully the irresponsible owners of the dogs will control them before they kill other neighborhood pets.

Mokihana Calizar said...

We are so sorry for your loss. Dear friends--small animals give us much.

Grieving through the telling of story has been a way for me to find pono when the feelings swhirl ...using the o'o to dig is such a powerful and healing tool.

Thank you for this expression of your na'au, yes, we all want and then there is the question of when 'that's' enough.

Take care, Joan

Anonymous said...

rest in peace poochie, sorry to hear of your loss. damn dogs.

J. Waite said...

Joan, I love your blog, but never comment because of the trolls.

But I had to respond to this grief-stricken post. I too lost a cat this year. Her death was sudden, but it wasn't murder like this. I mourned for my little Dot as if she were my daughter.

I admire you, your activism, and your blog immensely. And I mourn with you for your little friend. Auwe!

Anonymous said...

What a horrifying experience of seeing your cat mauled by those two dogs.

Sending a warm hug to you, Joan, and thoughts of love to your kitty, Poochie, in its new heavenly home.



Unknown said...

Dear Joan,
I am so sorry to read about the horrific killing of your cat. We can pursue dangerous dog and leash law violations to help prevent this from happening again. Please call me at 632-0610 x 106.
Deepest sympathies, Dr. Becky

Punohu's Politics,Environment and Culture said...

I want to express to you from myself and my kids our deep regret at the loss of your pet in such a traumatic fashion. It was very moving and poignant to read and must have been very difficult to write.

Bless you.
Anne Punohu and the kids.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss. I had one kitty that died just that way.

Unfortunately dogs do hunt and have a need to chase animals that run. Its in there DNA to do so. When there are more than one of them, and they are in a "pack" they get more that way...

To train a dog not to do that sort of thing, i.e. be socialized with cats and not chase them is quite impossible. My dog will leave most cats alone, including the 2 we have, but if she sees another cat and it runs, there goes my dog, unless she is on a leash.

Most dog owners do not have fencing around their yard because of cost. Many have been used to the "freedom" to let dogs run loose without training them to stay at home (it is possible to do this). But when dogs do not get walked, exercised, and trained, they have all this pent up energy so they run off and look for something to hunt.

Perhaps we can blame the dog owners, but it won't bring Poochie back to life. Maybe if we can "educate" the neighbors, another tragedy will be prevented.

Dr Freddy

Anonymous said...

As a dog and cat owner my sympathy goes out to your lost. I have to agree with Dr. Freddy's comment about a dogs DNA to hunt especially in a pack. I have a fixed outside cat and he gets along with my dog very, very well. Having the freedom to do whatever he wants as an outside cat but has the tendency to wonder off. In fact, cats have been accused of crapping on the windshields of cars and picking fights with other neighborhood cats to the point of death, fixed or not. Is there a law for their nusiance and murdering of another cat? Can't tie or put him in a kennel. Should we take them to a vet to end their life because of their nusiance? Difficult worlld we live in, Love one, Despise the other. But hey, I love them both. Again, sorry for your lost.