Have you ever been somewhere and saw something that triggers a strong emotional response? Maybe it was something that brought back a memory, either good or bad. This happened to me a couple weeks ago. What caused me to break down in an aisle of a pet supply store?
I was volunteering for the rescue, which adopts cats and kittens from inside a local pet supply retailer, when I took a quick break to search for a new cat toy. Tiger has been destroying his toy mice of late, carrying them around while loudly announcing his latest “kill.” I discarded a couple disemboweled bodies, who suffered the indignity of their stuffing still hanging from the jaws of their killer, the orange tabby cat. Tiger was running low on stuffed mice, so I thought I might buy him a few more.
I knew they would have what I needed. I prefer plain mice, with few details that I have to remove for safety’s sake. Perusing the items for sale, I saw a toy on the bottom shelf that flooded my brain with memories. It was a simple plastic barbell, with balls with bells inside on each end.
Flashback to many years ago when we were only a two-cat household. Annie and Ozzy were young and playful, and they had a toy that they just loved to bat around. It resembled the plastic barbell that I just found. These toys weren’t exactly the same; I believe the original barbell had fuzz on the ends, and not plastic. However, the plastic toy was similar to the well-loved toy that eventually came apart.
I tried to find it everywhere with no luck. I wanted to replace it so badly for them, but none could be found. Wherever I was, I checked every pet supply place to find it. One day in February 2003 I went into a chain pet shop (now out of business), still on the hunt for the elusive barbell. They didn’t have it, but you know what they did have? My Moose!
I always say I went into that store for a cat toy and came out with a puppy, but that is not entirely accurate. Moose wasn’t an impulse purchase; I did go home and research Italian greyhounds long into the night to be sure the breed would be a good fit for our home. Bleary-eyed but excited, we returned to the store the following day. (Please note that this was before I knew about puppy mills).
I remember the store associate handing him to me for the first time, all soft and wiggly with that new puppy smell. I was instantly in love, as he stuck his needle nose in my ear.
It took me 16 years to find that cat toy, but sadly too late for Annie and Ozzy to enjoy it again. Tears fell the day I found that barbell, a lot of mixed emotions bubbling to the surface. I thought of the lives and loss of my beloved kitties, and the joy of bringing home the canine love of my life, who I wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t looking for that toy.