I went puppy shopping with a friend last Saturday. I swore I’d never do that again. Still, it seemed foolish to let that other time six years ago stop me. I wouldn’t have gone even then, but King Tut had gone missing and I’d done everything else I knew to do. I’d canvassed the neighborhood calling kitty-kitty-kitty in an unsteady voice. I’d tacked Missing Cat posters to my addition’s light poles and placed a notice in the Lost and Found section of The Sun’s classified ads. When all of that failed, I drove out to the City of Edmond Animal Welfare Shelter east of I-35 off Covell.
A volunteer walked a yellow dog on a leash along the drive leading down to the shelter. A second young man roughhoused with a big laughing dog on the well-kept grounds as I pulled into the parking lot. I was greeted by a soft-spoken young woman sitting at a cubicle just inside the building, and I explained my mission. She showed me to a large glass window, beyond which were maybe two dozen cats in all shapes, sizes and colors. They lounged in various-sized wooden cubby-holes built flush with the glass and extending upward to the height of the window. They appeared to be healthy and happy, a fine addition to any family. But not to mine. Not then. Not while my loss was so recent and so raw. Only King Tut would do.
I filled out forms at a desk, a detailed description of my cat and contact information in case he showed up there. No one encouraged me to believe we would be reunited. On my way out, the tears in my eyes might have been responsible for the wrong turn I made, bringing me face to face with individual crates full of every kind of dog — all patiently waiting to be claimed by someone they loved or could grow to love. It struck me then that there’s a vast difference between the resilience of a cat and a dog. These dogs were as well cared for as the cats I’d seen earlier. Their crates and their blankets were clean, their food and water bowls were full, and I’d witnessed them enjoying their outings with volunteers as I’d driven up. It was their stillness that broke my heart, the longing in their dull eyes. It was their patience — call it faith — that drove me from the shelter vowing never to return. I had a dog. It was an irreplaceable cat that I’d lost.
Last Saturday was different. Many crates of every breed and off-breed of dog imaginable lined PetSmart’s storefront. Their smiling foster parents were with them, not seeming the least interested in giving them up. I had approached in fear and trembling. By the time my friend and I left two hours later, I’d petted most of those dogs before three-quarters of them had gone home with their new families. My friend and Pe-Pe had adopted each other in the first 10 minutes after we arrived. I get to be Godmother.
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.