The Animals

The animals in our neighborhood have been singling us out over the last couple of days for complete weirdness.  Two days ago, Ted came home from work and asked if we saw the crows across the street.  There are a lot of crows in LA, especially in our neighborhood.  But, Sharon (my cousin) and I walked outside the front door to see literally hundreds of crows in the tree across the street from our house.  Hundreds.  Swarming.  Yesterday, I went to lunch about a block away with my step-sister, my cousin and my best friend from childhood just down the street and a squirrel came within one foot of our table, trying to get a bite.  Scared it might have rabies or get aggressive, we stood up and scared it off the patio.  Squirrels don't usually come so close.  Last night I couldn't sleep and was sitting in the living room reading.  At around midnight, I heard lots of little footsteps running all over our roof.  I thought that maybe it was the old yellow tabby cat from next door that likes to hang up there.  But, there was definitely more than one animal.  It sounded like the monkeys do when they run all of over the roof of our house in Costa Rica.  I got up to look out the stained glass door window and saw at least 5 big raccoons climbing over our gate, one by one.  Hopping from one ledge to the next.  One jumped on top of our tool shed and went to town chewing on some material up there, two others were prancing through our hedges, and the other two were attacking the barrel of dog food.  One was actually inside the barrel of dog food, going to town on it.  I followed my normal course of action (which I debated for a while first) and woke up Ted.  He was fast asleep but got out of bed, walked to the side door, opened it and growled, "RAAARRRRRR!"  Over and over until they scurried away.  It was actually kind of funny.  I was way too scared to open the door because I have heard that raccoons can be aggressive. 

What was really weird is that our dogs didn't even move.  We have two dogs, Jakey and Layla.  Jakey is a very cute and cuddly Golden Doodle that we adopted from the brother and sister-in-law of our friend Tamar.  Layla is a very emotionally complex and protective German Shepard that we adopted from my sister-in-law when she realized that her daughter, Sadie, was allergic to dogs, among many other things.  They are yin and yang.  Two perfect creatures.  Usually when anyone walks by the house or they hear any animal at all moving around the yard, the two of them bolt out the doggy door in a flash - Layla is scaring off intruders, Jakey is looking for a playmate.

When I was pregnant with Max, Layla knew.  I'm not sure exactly how I knew that she knew, but she did.  Both dogs had always been Ted loyalists, but Layla suddenly became my shadow.  She would follow me from room to room and looked at me with concern.  I found something online about the name Layla that said some cultures believed in a spirit called Layla that would protect babies.  Since she had been with Beth when Sadie was born and now was with us for the arrival of Max, we felt that it was meant to be.  Beth, who missed Layla so much, felt some comfort in that fact, as did Ted and I.  When Max was born, we spent a week with my mom while Ted finished renovating our kitchen.  I practically never left the bedroom and Layla would lie in the doorway entrance to our bedroom all day and night, keeping us safe from anyone who might want to get near the baby.  They were so good around Max, always curious, but never getting too close.  Max seemed to look right through them, never even realizing that they were there.  It was a question family members always asked, "Has Max noticed the dogs yet?" and until about 6 weeks ago, the answer was always, "no".  Then all of a sudden, he noticed.  He would have staring contests with Layla, always with a little interested smile and he would reach way out of his highchair to grab Jake's moustache.  Max was easily distracted while I was feeding him breakfast when he would hear the dogs dash in or out of the dog door.  He would grab the sides of his highchair or bumbo tray and flip his head around to see what was going on.  The last time I remember him doing it was the last morning he was alive.

The dogs are sad.  Jake is just a little down in the dumps but Layla seems distraught.  My cousin says that when we were in the hospital the second time, when Ted was bit, the dogs stayed up all night barking and howling.  Layla walks into Max's room and just stares into space.  She looks at Ted and I with sad, questioning eyes.  She wants to know where her baby is and it bothers me that we do not have a language that we can communicate in so that I can tell her.  It's no wonder that those few pesky raccoons didn't get their attention last night -maybe they have a much bigger issue on their minds.  

1 comment

Stephanie said...

Dogs are such amazing creatures. My dog, riddled with cancer, lived long enough to get me through Andrea's death. He seemed to know that I needed the comfort. I hope that you can find some in yours.