you can't hide your lion eyes
Caterpillar doesn't let me get photos of her eyes very freely. When the camera goes up, Caterpillar's eyes go down and away. She knows it is pointing at her, that she's the subject, but she doesn't understand what it's about. Makes her self-conscious. Makes her look away because in absence of understanding what I'm doing, she feels some fear. She knows as well as she knows anything that she needn't be afraid of me, except when she's in my way as I walk through the house in the dark. After kicking her a couple times I've taken to carrying a flashlight. Don't see any point in turning on lights, but do need to know if Caterpillar is near my feet. She has learned to stay away from them, but not altogether.
My first dog here in the mountains, Sadie, came to me when she was 3. We bonded right away and our minds even worked together. Sadie would not have been my choice of a name for her, but it was already her name and I didn't want to change it. It could have been better if I'd had more experience before her, but she was the one taught me that we communicate by telepathy. It took her a long time to teach me that she understood me. I gradually came to understand that when I talked to her, she knew what I was saying, even when it was in words she'd never heard before. Sadie was my dog. She was meant for me. I didn't have to train her in anything except not killing chickens, and that was only once. She heard an awful lot of classical music in her time living here. I'm like in the song about Mr Bo Jangles, "his dog up and died--after 20 years he still grieves." It's been 25 years since Sadie left the body and I continue to feel deep loss when she comes to mind. The last photograph taken of her is framed and has its place on the wall.
Sadie was apprehensive of the camera at first. There came a time she got it. From then on, she posed for me. I'd point the camera, she'd hold the pose until I expressed satisfaction I'd got the picture. When I first started noticing she was posing, I told myself I'm just projecting it, wanting to think she's getting it. She's a dog. How could she get it about cameras and photographs? She got it, and wasn't long in the getting. It became something I took for granted after awhile; it was what we did. It pleased her for me to get her photograph. It affirmed for her what I told her about herself, that she was a beautiful dog. I never had any problem with my dog uncertain whether it's a dog or a human. I kept Sadie understanding that a dog is a wonderful thing to be--no shame in being a dog. She was never just a dog for me.
I learned from knowing Sadie that the only mental difference between us was the forebrain, which I had and she didn't, to her good fortune. The forebrain is why we need to get saved to go to heaven and dogs don't. They don't have a tongue for making a wide variety of sounds, so they never developed language beyond a long list of body-language, eye-contact, squeals, barks and a variety of sounds with particular meanings. Different barks have different meanings. The part of the self we call the unconscious, which is misnamed, it being the wide-awake part of the mind that misses nothing, is where I was able to see where the dog's mind was. They don't have the confusion of language that makes up the so-called conscious mind, the forebrain, meaning to me the dog's mind was a great deal more clear than mine. It showed when we were out walking. She heard and saw everything. I was off in my head missing everything.
I had the same kind of relationship with Aster, one of being able to talk to her and she knew what I was saying. In both relationships, I was the one slow and dense of mind. My relationship with TarBaby the cat was the same. I could talk to him and he knew what I was saying. Tapo was that way too. Caterpillar took the back seat in my relationships with the 3 cats. She never liked other cats and slept away from them, stayed away from them the best she could. Being the biggest and a fighter that went all out from the start she entertained herself pouncing on them and intimidating them. I gave her as much attention as she wanted every day, but we never communicated like I did with TarBaby. Now that TarBaby and Tapo are gone, Caterpillar and I are learning each other, drawing closer until by now our relationship is almost as close as with TarBaby. It might be there and I'm the one that doesn't get it. Sometimes I see Caterpillar frustrated with me for not getting her meaning. But I get her meaning more and more. We're still learning each other.
TarBaby and Tapo were Caterpillar's womb mates, grew up together, were together all their lives. TarBaby and Tapo got along well, but Caterpillar didn't get along with either one. By the time they individuated, Caterpillar would rather I'd have given them away. Now that she's the last cat, our last couple months have been adjusting to her being the only one. She missed them and was glad to be rid of them. Cats tend to be solitary, and Caterpillar has a full dose of it. I don't like to let her outside without watching her, because of dogs and coyotes. Since I don't have a dog to keep dogs and coyotes away, I keep her in the house. And she wants to stay in the house. She would rather watch birds through the window now than stalk them. She doesn't stalk mice any more, either. She stays indoors and we stay consciously in touch. We are each other's other house mate. Both of us used to live as all 4 of us, now it's just the 2 of us. We're both gradually catching on that it's just us. We're learning how to live as just us. She's now understanding my meaning when I talk to her in sentences.