The autumn leaves remind me…
It was the fall of 2006, a few months after the adoption. I was in the throes of PTSD treatment, and I projected my own worries onto Hannah. I became concerned that Hannah, cooped up in my (then) tiny studio apartment (which was even smaller than the garret), was not getting enough exercise. I had heard that cats could be walked, just like dogs, and I knew of a small park just a few blocks from my building.
I bought a leash, fastened it around Hannah’s neck, looped the end around my hand, and brought her out into the world.
She sounded like a fire alarm, wailing, as she gaped at the ground and the sky, her head lurching in all directions. When I placed her down on the city pavement, she climbed up my legs and threw her front paws around my neck. I placed her down on the pavement once more, but, like a reflex, she was back in my arms again, clinging to me.
A middle-aged woman in a flower-printed dress stopped to stare. “She thinks you’re going to leave her,” she called to me with a half-smile, her voice carried by a gale.
Leave her. The words flew to my chest and stuck there. Hannah buried her face in my neck like a little girl.
“It’s okay,” I said to her, feeling her belly heave against my body. “I’m taking you home.” But Hannah was not consoled by my words. She continued to cry, the wind muting her tones, as I carried her in my arms, feeling worse and worse about what I had done as I rushed back to the apartment.
Inside, Hannah frantically scampered under the bed and hid there for hours. What were you thinking? I sat on my bed, stunned by my stupidity, feeling great remorse. You could have lost her forever.
Four years later, I am glad that my mistakes with Hannah did not cause any irreparable damage. Some days I still feel badly, but I can also look back on that unknowing self and have compassion for her. I think, perhaps, so can Hannah. As for Sam – Sam is just lucky I know so much more now than I did back then.
What do you think? Have you ever made a mistake with your pets? Share your story and comments below.