Cats and Dogs and a Little Theory of Mind

Hi friends!  Cats or dogs?  Maybe both?  I’ll have to say I am partial to cats although I do not have one.  There are four dogs, a turtle, and a fish in our house though.  I’m taking care of my sister’s dogs while she is away for the next few days, so they are on my mind…along with cats.  You know almost every morning I run in the neighborhood and I am either being barked at or chased AND barked at.  I’m used to it.  I found it incredibly hilarious to me the other day when things took a bit of a turn.  I’m just making my way and I catch motion out of the corner of my eye.  Noiseless.  I’m not too concerned.  I look over and the dangest thing.  A cat was running with me.  Small.  Maybe a large kitten.  Not chasing me, running with me!  Made my day.  It didn’t last long, and he just stopped and stared.  I kept going and looking back every now and then watching him/her continuing to stare at me.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dogs are great but I haven’t had the most luck with them in my early childhood years.  That tends to carry over on a subconscious level to some extent, right?  It started with Penny, my grandmother’s dachshund (named after The Beatles, Penny Lane).  Apparently, as the story goes, my grandma found Penny one day sitting on my face, as a sleeping baby, on her couch.  An attempt to smother me?  That was the “joke”, but grandma told me that Penny wasn’t happy when I came into the picture.  Eventually we did become friends and played together.  On the flipside, there was Shadow, my great aunt and uncle’s dog.  An enormous all black German shephard.  When I was seven, I made the mistake of standing in between him and another dog that he was barking at, Lady, a small beagle.  I stood there, unafraid (because I “thought” I knew him well enough), and chastised him with my finger, “No, Shadow!  No!”.  I don’t remember the attack when he mauled me and almost took off my cheek.  I DO remember being pinned down by a bunch of nurses while they tried to put in the 50+ stitches on my cheek.  Yeah that was a bad day.  Learned a lesson though!

Then there was George.  She was my second cat.  I do not remember the first as she passed away as a small kitten due to a gas leak I mentioned in a previous blog post of mine, Dreaming Reality. I got George when I was four and did not realize she was a girl until later, but in the moment, George I named her.  She became my best friend and at a time when I was still learning how to deal with the world around me.  A time when I was developing my sense of “self” so to speak.  I remember the summer of 1998, shortly after I left the Marines, I took a child psychology class and learned about The Theory of Mind.  I’d have to do some googling to really explain it, but when I reflected on my early child development years between 3-5, I was modeling the behavior of a cat.  Something that has carried over with me to this day.  I love the quiet.  Just staring out a window and watching.  Very soothing.  Downrange (Afghanistan, Iraq), when an “incident” would occur, I found myself becoming calmer.  Eerily calm in a way.  I remember looking back on events in reflection and wonder, “Why was I so calm?”  I really do not know, but I like to think that I had some help from my feline buddy from long ago to keep me grounded.  Unexcited.

I am curious for you though, my friend.  Look back in your own life when you were 3-5yrs old.  What was going on then?  Did you have something or someone in your life that had a dramatic effect on your personality that has brought you to this point in time?  Just something to reflect on, I guess!

Be well and be safe!

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