Dependable dependents

With tears running down her face, the older woman shook hands and hugged the doctor standing in the open doorway leading into the waiting room. This was a tragic and true scene in which the doctor had probably participated many times. I saw this happen while leaning against the empty reception desk and, for a brief moment, I forgot where I was. I could only wonder what had just happened to the unfortunate woman.

I imagine a scene like this happens quite often in a hospital or a doctor’s office: a person suffers a terrible loss and simply cannot contain their sorrow. I did not, however, expect to see it in this particular doctor’s office. This event happened two days ago at the veterinary clinic where I had taken my cat, Clementine, to get neutered. The last time I had owned any pet was when I was 12 years old. It was a dog that had a rather vicious temper and some companionship issues. She certainly didn’t like the company of strangers, and sometimes she didn’t like the company of her family. Nonetheless, she was the family’s dog and was loved appropriately. When we were forced to give our dog away, I imagine my family felt a lot like that woman in the clinic, but I suppose I can’t really speak for anyone else but myself. I bring it up, though, because when I had a dog as a child, I never remembered feeling like the dog was dependent on me—dependent on my family, maybe—but not me personally. Whatever may have happened to that woman, she seemed like she lost someone that was truly near to her heart, truly dependent on her for its livelihood. As university students, we have the luxury of being independent and, for the most part, away from our families. We rely on our own ability to feed and support ourselves without the worry of doing it for anyone else. The loss of a dependent, at least for me, seemed like a far-off, unimaginable tragedy that might happen on a blue moon during a leap-year in another place. At least until I saw that woman. Maybe it’s because after my dog left I never felt the joy of owning a pet, one that relied on me and wanted my attention. I never considered the bond that might form between myself and them and never considered that the bond, for whatever reason, could be broken. Maybe that is why the scene in the veterinary clinic struck such a chord in my heart that I had never felt. Moments after the woman and the doctor had hugged, tears still flowing, the receptionist, who had gone to the back room to retrieve Clementine, returned with something for me: my now neutered, very delirious, sore and beautiful black and white cat. He was still a little wobbly on his back legs, for obvious reasons, and it made me laugh a little. It was at that moment that I realized how lucky I was to have a dependent, even if it’s just a lazy cat. And I suggest the following to any student wanting to fill a spot in their heart: get a dependable cat.

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