Will you write about your dogs or some kind of animal for my daughter? My daughter loves animals and she’s going through a really hard time, not just with all the coronavirus stuff, but recently her dad (we’re divorced) moved away and remarried someone who has three little girls. It’s been really hard on my daughter. Her little heart is broken.
DEAR ST. LOUIS:
Meet Lula Bell. To the rest of the world, she’s just a feral cat. But she and I are deeply in love.
My wife and I named her. And to be honest, we probably shouldn’t be allowed to name cats because we like double names too much.
My friend from New Jersey recently informed me that double names are considered “country.”
I take offense to this. People in my family have a long history of double names. I have uncles and cousins named Ray Ray, Tommy Lee, Amy Jo, Willy Sue, and of course José Jesús Luís Ramirez who married into the family.
My mother was even going to name me John John since my father’s name was John. I am glad this never happened.
But getting back to Lula Bell. Not only was she was feral, she also had a broken leg. It was bad, too. It looked like it had been mangled in a dogfight or a car accident. It was covered in scars.
The vet looked at the chewed up limb and said Lula would be messed up for life. There was nothing we could do. She might even die.
That’s probably why the poor girl was skittish. Pain will do that to a creature. Lula Bell wouldn’t let anyone come within fifty feet of her. Not even if you were offering her fresh trout. I actually tried this once.
Lula simply wanted you to set the food down, then back the heck off, punk.
Often I would watch her limp across our yard and it would break my heart. It was difficult for her to take two steps without falling over. Her leg was becoming dead weight.
Our relationship changed when I started sitting on our porch in the evenings to read. I did this so Lula Bell would become comfortable having me around. Although, I would have to sit absolutely still so I wouldn’t freak her out.
Lula watched me from a distance. She’d sit in our yard looking at me like a disgruntled military sniper. Other times, she would sit closer, but she was always skeptical of me. Always ready to bolt.
I kept this up for several months and after almost a year she got used to me and we got along famously. Finally, one day—and I can still hardly belive this—Lula Bell came to me. She rubbed herself against my leg.
I know it seems small, but I will remember this exact moment forever because it was a big deal in both our lives.
Over the next week it seemed that Lula Bell had gotten over her fears. Soon, she was rubbing upon my legs all the time. I never tried to pet her because I didn’t want to scare her. And besides, she made had made it clear that even though she could touch me, I must not touch her or I would suffer life-altering consequences.
A few months later, I took a big chance (cue drumroll). While she was busy rubbing her ribs on my legs, I held out my hand to pet her.
At first she jumped backward. Then she glared at me. It was the kind of stare that said, “What in the Sam Hill do you think you’re doing, punk?”
Cats call everyone punk.
But here was the thing: Lula didn’t run away. She crept toward me. She placed her head into my open hand. And I wish I could tell you how monumental this was, but words fail me.
It was the first time I had touched her little head. And I don’t care what anyone says about animals, there is a soul in there somewhere.
Each evening after that, Lula let me pet her. And it became our little secret. She maintained the tough-cat routine, and I pretended not to notice her. But when nobody was watching, it was Rub-A-Palooza.
Day by day, Lula Bell eventually graduated to trust me. It wasn’t long before she was jumping into my lap. Whereupon I would remain motionless while she sat there because you do not want to spook a cat who has her back paws dug into your personal regions. I speak here from experience.
Anyway, we’ve been friends for a long time. Lula Bell has been living at our house for years, in the woods, under our cars, or on our porch.
A few months ago we had a veterinary doctor come over take a look at her—and I’ve been saving this part until the end. The doctor still can’t believe what they saw. Lula Bell’s leg is completely healed. One hundred percent. The doc said it was a miracle. She said she never saw a mangled leg heal like that.
Now I’m sure there are lots of logical, scientific reasons for Lula’s recovery. But I know exactly what happened. I’m no doctor, I don’t know much about cats, I haven’t done many things in my life worth noting, and I’m not the sharpest thumbtack in the drawer. I am an average guy without a credential to his name.
But I know that love can heal anything.
And one day, sweetheart, you will know this, too.