Brody: Four-legged silence speaks volumes

Last week I wrote about the value of silence for humans. This week I’d like to continue this idea of communication without the use of words.

Mother Teresa said one time that any human who has not loved an animal has an incomplete soul. I say that any being able to love unconditionally without any strings attached is worthy of love.

In the past, I’ve written about how trust is the key to communication. In my life of working with animals, I can say there is no way you can connect and have a relationship with an animal if the trust is not the basis. Sadly, this is not always true between humans.

I want to tell you about Dolores. She lived in Salida, Colorado, and was being trained to be a service dog. She was injured in a fall, which ended her training and future career.

A couple heard about this and after meeting her, decided to adopt her. Part of her recovery was a daily walk in an adjusted baby buggy. The man who was already devoted to this Dolores was pushing his new dog in her buggy when they happened to pass a runner named Gene Brody.

Gene was immediately drawn to the two of them and peered into the buggy. Surprised to see a dog instead of a baby and knowing how I’d love to meet the two of them, he ran home, grabbed me still in robe and PJ’s and drove me back to them to begin a deep relationship with a dog named Dolores.

Gene and I became like family with the couple and Dolores. They walked her in the neighborhood every morning, and she would be asked to let off the leash so she can come up to our front door for a cuddle.

I can’t explain how this golden retriever looked at me, but sometimes our eyes would meet and the absolute trust and love between us was palpable. Her leg injury healed and she, with her new parents, enrolled in training as a therapy dog. She started going to the hospital to visit the patients, floor by floor.

Everyone grew to love her, but she found her purpose in that place. Children there for various surgeries were always scared. Most of the time the parents were also frightened and unable to calm the child.

Enter Dolores, who speaks volumes without one word. That dog could walk into the child’s room and almost always the crying, and the clinging stopped as Dolores would put her head right by the child, give that same look that everything was safe and sound and like a miracle, the love and trust Dolores transferred to the child ended with hugs and kisses. No more fear. Never have I seen a more giving trusting dog and now it is routine to be there on children’s surgery days.

Now for a different type of story proving the very same thing — trust is the key to the relationship between a human and an animal.

My daughter Phoebe and her husband Steve have a cabin and a barn in Fairplay. One day while in the barn Phoebe heard a noise. She couldn’t see a cat, but that is what it sounded like.

Every time they went to the cabin she would look for the source of the mewing sound. She never could see one. She began to leave food out for the unseen cat, and she started talking to it so it would know her voice and hopefully connect it with the kindness of food. This went on for nine months.

Then it happened. While in the barn a big beautiful wild solid black cat appeared. There was zero trust because as a wild feral cat she knew nothing about trust or mothering or kindness.

Phoebe kept right on doing this routine every weekend; then she got the shock of her life, a baby the spitting image of the mother appeared and ate.

Winter was coming, and they knew the cats might not survive cold, so they began to plan to take them home. The sad thing is the baby disappeared before that day, the day that marked a new life for the feral momma.

With some real maneuvering, they managed to get her home and into a spare bathroom equipped with a litter box, food and bed. This went on at her house for months with daily visits when Phoebe was again talking constantly.

Slowly the beautiful female cat was introduced to the barn which was heated. There she had access to the trees and things to chase but trusted Phoebe. When she talks to the cat, it talks back, and the trust is total. Interestingly enough, she chose to live in the barn rather than the house — an incredible trust saving the life of a homeless feline.

The third story of an animal and a human is one I have written about before. I have a cat named, “P,” which I flew with his friend Bella from Winchester to Colorado. He had a rough start, and we pretty much nursed him to health. They have been with me for eleven years.

One night, when I went to bed, I felt tired. I fell asleep instantly around 9 p.m. but at 2 a.m. I woke up with terrible chest pains. I honestly did think I had the dreaded heart attack. But what woke me up was “P.” He began taking his paws and gently patting me on my cheek. When I didn’t wake up, his pats got stronger. It became apparent he intended to wake me. Finally, his pats became hard hits in rapid succession. That woke me up and when I investigated, I had never turned on my oxygen the night before. And the pain I was feeling was from lack of sufficient oxygen all night.

Now, what but trust and total love would have pushed “P” to keep hitting me to get up and fix my problem. I have heard of dogs doing such things but never cats.

I believe we as humans should advocate for them and be their voice when needed. However, I had witnessed too many examples when no words between the two were required to carry on a complete and meaningful conversation.

Silence, indeed, works, no matter who’s doing the talking.

P.S. After they brought her to her home they named her Alma and they took her to the vet. Shortly into the spaying procedure, the vet called and announced the name no longer fit. It should be Elmo because he’s a boy. Who knew?

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.