The Herald Bulletin

May 4, 2013

Maleah Stringer: Even chasing socks brings joy from a pet

By Maleah Stringer
For The Herald Bulletin

— Oliver, my diabolical feline companion is at it again, and he’s teaching the rest of my crew to join him in his pranks.

When I get really busy I don’t put my clean laundry away as quickly as I should. OK, it piles up in the laundry basket. I hate doing laundry. It annoys me to have to put it up when I’m just going to use it again. Apparently not putting it away offends Oliver’s sense of order and housekeeping expectations. He’s a very finicky little guy.

To get his point across, he digs through the laundry and removes my socks. He is distributing them throughout the house. He is also encouraging his buddies to help. I like colorful socks. It is nothing for me to come home and find my clean socks dropped all over the house like little nuggets of color. Some they hide, under the bed, under the couch and, yes, in the litter boxes. Looks like little colorful chopped-off feet have dropped from the sky. Or in the case of the litter boxes, that there are bodies buried with the feet sticking out.

I will hear thumping feet and look up to see Oliver running through the house with a sock hanging out of his mouth being chased by one of his buddies. Then here comes Maddie, the Pit with the same sock in her mouth being chased by Oliver and friends. It’s as if I exist simply for their entertainment.

I can’t count the number of times when I can’t find a sock and have to go on a sock hunt through my house. It’s like an Easter egg hunt. Maybe they think it’s fun for me. They make a point of not watching me. But they are and they are laughing.

When I’m in a hurry, it is maddening not to be able to find the other sock, or any sock, but it makes me laugh. It’s as if they have these secret conversations that only animals can understand. In my head I hear, “Put it at the very back, she’ll have to crawl to get it.”

Or, “Bury it in the litter box; just leave a little of the toe out.”

My pets are funny and endearing and they know it. It’s just not as much fun when I act like a grown-up and put my laundry away where it belongs.

My pets are all rescues; animals who had been thrown away — abused or neglected.

They come fearful and skinny, carefully watching how things are going to go. It is wonderful to watch as they lose their fear, gain weight and learn to trust. My own pets remind me every day why we all work so hard to save them and to make a difference for how animals are treated in this community. It makes all the hard things we have to do and see worth it.

We work so hard because they matter. Just their existence brings us joy and unconditional love. They enrich our lives; they make us better people. They make us laugh.

Please go to your local shelter to find your own version of a feline or canine Oliver. Shelters are full to capacity, go adopt, or foster or volunteer. Go, because they matter.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at maleahstringer@aol.com.