11/02/2007 02:02 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Sometimes, Our Special Pets Understand Us More Than We Realize


Yesterday, I received an email from "Joan." Joan is someone I know more professionally then personally.

Joan, sadly, has just lost her home to the Southern California wildfires. She also lost all her possessions that she didn't take with her to temporarily relocate to deal with an enduring family crisis back in the Southeast.

She mentions to me that among the few tangible "count your blessings" that sustains her these days is "little puppy girl."

When Joan noted how her "little puppy girl" was a strong source of support, I thought of the last four-legged creature who fulfilled that role for me.

When my apartment of 7 1/2 years went condo in February, 2005, I had to buy or leave the place I loved. Buying would have been a stretch at that time. I thought I had found the right answer in moving in with the woman I was seeing at the time.

In time, it turned out that there were some incompatibilities. One night, in the middle of the night, I arose, went into the living room and stared into space. I felt in between two worlds, lost and confused. I wasn't unhappy in love, but coveted my freedom and missed my old digs in a more cosmpolitan part of Portland where one would be more likely to see "Think Globally, Act Locally" rather than "Support our Troops" stickers.

It was at that point that Munchie (pictured above), who had been ignoring or hissing me for a couple of months, found me on the couch in the dark. For the first time ever, this furball crawled on to my lap and gently purred for several minutes.

That gesture made me realize that sometimes, our animals really do understand us in ways that even our friends do not.

My evidence is not scientific, but is intuitive. If you've ever heard a dog or cat exclaim in annoyance, in pain, in fear, you realize they often use the same vocalizations and tonalities that we humans do. This sounds anthromorphic as hell, but could this be evidence of cross-species commonalities and sensitivities?

I found something therapeutic in that purr. Why? She was an outcast as well, and perhaps she understood. Or perhaps she was telling me that this too shall pass.

And seven months after Munchie sat purring in my lap for the first time, there came an evening where we knew she was about to expire. I went over to her shivering body, gazed into her then-hollowed eyes, thanked her for giving me strength and kissed her goodbye.

But nearly two years after Munchie's death, her reassuring purr bounds through time as a prophecy. A most fortunate string of coincidences, good timing- and perhaps even divine intervention has made it possible for me to once again lived in the very condo complex from which I was originally driven out from.

A few weeks after I moved back to where I am now, a rainbow appeared over my condo. A sign? Who knows?