The sound that drives me crazy the most on a pleasant winter’s day in sunny Florida is the imagined sound of my life ticking away. It is there, in the background when I am not actually doing anything. Between meals and naps and peeing trips. Between one breath and the next, the tick tock of the clock counting down to zero. It lurks behind my eyes. It is in the trees and in the sand beneath my feet. Tick tock. Will this breath be my last? Tick tock. Will my heart explode midway through the next mouthful of food? Tick tock. Will I stroke out with a very full bladder on the way to the live oaks over yonder? I don’t know. But the remorseless march of time trips on and the clock tocks and ticks while the sand in the hourglass of my life runs out.
My life thus far has been one terrifying adventure after another. For the first three weeks, I was blind, helpless and trodden on so many times by big pawed siblings and bigger pawed Mother. After my birth, a miserable experience too, it has to be said, the first thing I remember was being grabbed, rubbed with something and cooed over. All I wanted was to get to the nipple. It was the only thing that occupied my mind. Nipple nipple nipple. It was what the in-utero survival guidebook had said. Get to a nipple. Latch on. Pretend to be a kangaroo and don’t let go til weaned. I mean, I was blind. I didn’t have the faintest clue as to what a nipple was, certainly no faculties to enable me to visualize one. I just knew, in the depths of my bones, that I had to get to a nipple. I popped out, started to yell for pointers to the nipple and was scooped up. Terrifying. Blind, deaf and unable to bite, thanks to an appalling lack of teeth, the cloth that was attacking me, I had no clue where to find my Mother. Ninety percent of my life to that point was spent under attack, and then I was dropped down onto the floor. A weird fleshy appendage was stuffed into my mouth. Well, I just latched on and gummed at it a bit in the hopes of scaring it off. It was only about an hour later that I realized that this was the nipple of fable. Born, terrified, and then left to quiet reflection. That was the first time I ‘heard’ the tick tock of the countdown. Obviously in the metaphysical sense because I was born deaf as a post.
That ‘sound’ has been my semi-constant companion ever since. It took 3 weeks for me to finally be able to open my eyes and get a look at a nipple. It turned out to be a rather uninteresting affair. My mother herself was rather uninteresting, too. I think that she was pissed off with all of us jockeying for position all the time. Anyway, with sight and smell and hearing came a lull in the tick-tocking as everything else came into sharp focus. Particularly smell. I mean, sight maxed out on day 2, hearing on day 5 but my sense of smell is still developing! I can smell things that happened 5 years ago! Pretty bloody acute. Imagine, if you will, 10 siblings taking a shit every 5 minutes, 2 feet away from you. Now imagine that you have a sense of smell that can read the fine print on the reverse side of a credit card application at 5 miles and 5 years distance! Horrendous. Food, on the other hand, smells sublime, as does Mother. My own paws smell like corn chips. Life looks like it is going to be a remarkable thing. Bad smells and all.
Then came the downtime. The times when everyone was sleeping. The quiet times. The dark times. The times after the final thought of the day, when it seemed that nobody was going to interest me. Siblings of all hues were jabbering on about their picks for family. The times when the tick tock of the clock reemerged from under the proverbial bed.
I was starting to develop a bit of a complex about it.
You may laugh, but I was barely 35 days old. Every bad experience was quite literally the worst of my life. I began to imagine that I would die before the next bowl of food. Before the next lick from Mother. Before I found a family worthy of my skills. And then it happened. On a gloriously warm day in January. They arrived. Looking pathetic, each with a mission. And I saw my salvation in their needs. The clock fell silent again. Each miserable tick and doleful, echoing tock banished, to rot in the ethereal miasma of forgotten nightmares.
Now I am waiting. Waiting to go and join them on their missions. Our missions. On quests for glory and food. Finding new trees to pee on. New experiences to be the best experiences of my life! I want to expand my list of favorite things. To hell with whiskers on kittens. I want life to begin. I am stuck in that prelude at the start of an opera or musical. It promises much but delivers so little and in the quiet, in the ritardando of my own little prelude here, I begin to hear the soft tick and mournful tock re-entering this world. And I pray. As all puppies have prayed in the past and all will pray into the future, that I am not neglected. That I am not forgotten. That I am not just a passing fad. That my commitment to help with my humans is reciprocated with their commitment to me and my well being. I hope that the tick and tock are never heard again and that when that day does come that my eyes fall sightless and my nose no longer twitches that it surprises the hell out of me.
Bring it on Humans. Bring it on. Sooner rather than later, please. Thank you.
That is all.