I have sad news; another great team has been broken up. When I think of teams, I immediately envision the greats such as Hope and Crosby, Fred and Ginger, Sonny and Cher and Martin and Lewis, all household names to most of us -- well, known to most of us beyond a certain age. How about Batman and Robin? One of the most recent team pairings became local legends, Shelby, and Oreo. They soaked up the sunshine together and watched the neighborhood; they had the same human friend, Lilly, who loved them both and showered them with hugs. Shelby and Oreo even shared their food; if Oreo left any food in her outdoor feeding area, Shelby would gobble it up before it had any chance of growing stale and, when Oreo had a successful hunt, she left the feathers under a certain bush so that her canine friend was gifted.
We understood that her life would be different once her six kittens were born. By the way, they were born in Lilly’s bedroom closet. Oreo stayed home with the kids and took care of them as would any full-time mom, leaving them for just moments in order to satisfy her own needs. If she didn’t meet up with Shelby, she would circle the house and leave her scent on the downspout by the back door and at the base of the Butterfly Bush which was her favorite hiding place when hunting birds. Sometimes she would wait at the front door to remind me to leave her some food.
The day finally came when all of her children had been placed in forever homes and her responsibilities declined. She would come around and expect to be fed more than once a day and, seeing as how skinny she had become, I obliged. She and Shelby would still have meaningful conversations as they wandered about with me trailing behind them, but these sessions were now less frequent. Then one afternoon we noticed that Oreo’s cat food was uneaten; Shelby took care of that as she wouldn’t have wanted it to spoil or be eaten by some other creature. This became part of Shelby’s routine for many days to come.
It’s been about two months now since anyone has seen Oreo. Shelby still starts off her morning sniffing the drain spout next to the back door, checking for her scent around the Butterfly Bush and even looking under the car where Oreo liked to escape the afternoon sunshine. When I see Shelby staring out through the front door window, I know she still is waiting for her friend to cross the street and run up onto the porch, but Oreo isn’t coming.
Life for so many of us settles into a certain routine, a routine that we assume will go on forever. We expect the same people will be part of our lives forever, the same opportunities available at all times, the same world that we are all part of. For good or bad, ours is a world that is static, forever changing, and we, through the course of time, learn from it and change with it accordingly. This is life; this is how we grow, through our experiences. I understand, but how do you explain it to a hound dog with a broken heart?