Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Saddest Little Boy In The World, Reprise: and Some Animal Tales


It was because I wouldn't let him bring this cat home, which was because I'm the meanest mommy in the world.

So I let him take this picture of the cat. It's a nice cat, and has saved me the trouble of explaining where I think Gray Kitty might be. Gray Kitty (a gray cat other than this one), called Duman by the neighbors, is the nicest little gray cat. I once rescued her from a tree (she was within arm's reach up, stuck to the trunk, but just a kitten who found it all rather terrifying), and she followed us home and forever after was always whoring for a scratch and purring like it was the best day of her life.

Until she got knocked up, I'd thought she was a boy, which is rather stupid but I just never looked. She was lolling around the street most days right up until she popped, with a belly so big we could rest our hands on her sides and feel the babies squirming around in there. Cats in later stages of pregnancy are funny because they still think they can do things like leap gracefully up onto the top edge of the fence, but they totally can't.

Then she disappeared for about a week, and I checked up on her one weekend afternoon when a bunch of neighbor women were hanging out of their windows shouting up and down at each other and whoever was on the street. It was really funny because they were shouting stuff like, "How's it going, beautiful? Why don't you get yourself inside and dust already?"

One of the women had taken in Duman's babies as a sort of nanny, charged with caring for them while Duman went off and did her thing. She was mostly a grown-up cat, but still a little young for babies. If she were a person, she'd have been like 16. She'd had four, all of them living.

But last Monday on the way to work (LE was at his Babaanne's because he had a fever), a car screeched on its brakes, and there was a little crackling sound like someone thumping old sticks together. Duman bolted in front of me from the street, all puffed up, and I watched her disappear into a garden and I haven't seen her since. I knew it was her, because her bottom was still all gross from having babies.

I've heard that stick thumpy sound two other times-- once when my dog got hit during one of his many insane excursions across the 4-lane rush-hour street were I caught the school bus every morning. He survived the incident without any terrible injuries. After getting hit he got up and tried to escape back over a fence into someone's yard, as though the hit had triggered his doggy memory of his past abused life of getting hurt for trying to escape and he was trying to get back into the yard before he got in trouble. The other time I heard that sound was driving with my brother and some friends on a dark, deer-ridden road and we cracked over a little deer that really did jump out of nowhere. We were sure the poor deer was broken and murdered so we jumped out of the car to check the road, and all over and under the car, and the deer wasn't there.



After that, the deer always seemed to line the road malevolently, with their flashing rabbit eyes.





 So it's hard to say what happened to Duman. Maybe she was hurt, and maybe she wasn't but she hasn't been out.

My fantasy or LE's?
In any case, LE's been wondering about her lately, so I'm hoping this new cat distracts him for a good long time because, even though I've tried to be honest with him about most things (except Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the thing about how our service bus driver Ali Bey Grouchy Pants is actually a Secret Kung Fu Master at night), I'm really not ready to tell him unfathomably bad shit can happen like nice cats getting run over for no reason.

Yesterday, New Gray Cat grew more insistent in his pleas for love.

Thus, happiness is restored.
It's a good thing New Gray Cat is so distracting because LE needed to be distracted from what was going on half a block up the street. Paşa, a handsome German shepherd whose sick-fuck owners I curse for buying that poor dog, was off the two-foot chain he's always tied up to and locked in a silent, ripping fight with Black Dog (the nicest street dog ever, who practically knocks you over with his big smelly head-cuddles), while a man stood over them beating the shit out of Black Dog with what appeared to be the buckle-end of Paşa's black leather collar. Suddenly, explaining the possible death of Gray Kitty didn't seem so brutal anymore.

There's all this talk of censorship because of the plans our Good Leadership has to Ruin the Internet For Everyone on August 22. And I was thinking about the stuff I protect my kid from because there are just some ways in which his little world just doesn't need to be turned upside down yet. I mean, I can't make myself tell him until he needs to know, that there are people who beat dogs with belts and other people who do way worse things. I just can't believe, with all the large and small brutalities in the world, that there are people who think little boys seeing vaginas on the Internet is the worst thing that can happen to them.

15 comments:

Nomad said...

That first photo.. why, if it isn't... well, by golly, I finally figured out why the little boy is crying in the postcard.

Barbara said...

I read this post this morning and wanted to comment then but I couldn't bring myself to do it. But the post wouldn't leave my mind all morning and at lunch I said, I've just gotta ask. Is Black Dog ok? Does anybody tell that sick fuck what an asshole he is? I can't imagine trying to raise a child in this country, with all the cats' and dogs' desperation on the streets and trying to explain to a child why nature is the way it is and why some people are just cruel, heartless beasts. I agree with you completely: so what if a little boy looks at some vaginas online? How bad is that, really, when there's some dumbass beating his wife in the apartment across the hall and the government doesn't give a shit about that? Ugh, sorry, I'm on a roll today, aren't I?!

Stranger said...

@ Nomad, does this mean the Crying Boy also had the Meanest Mommy In The World? All that bad luck could have been averted if she'd just given him a street cat?

@ Barbara, I didn't have a chance to look for Black Dog this morning, but I'll let you know as soon as I see him. Both dogs were torn up pretty good, though how much was from the collar and how much was from each other it's hard to say-- neither of them could stay still and they were both soaked in slaver...

But yeah, seriously fucked up priorities, right?

Stranger said...

Sorry, Barbara-- not much to report. I didn't see Black Dog on the way home tonight, but he's often off on other dog business.

Paşa looked sulky but no huge wounds from where I could see (he's tied up again, poor guy). That's good because yesterday, it looked like his tongue was torn, but it may have just been a piece of grass or something stuck on there.

I started wondering why they suddenly fought. Paşa isn't fenced, which is even more sad in a way because it means any passing dog who felt like attacking him could do so, and he wouldn't be able to get away. But Paşa and Black Dog have been living in apparent harmony since at least September. On the other hand, this was the first time I've seen Paşa off his chain...

Dogs are so weird.

Stranger said...

Hooray! Animal updates!

Gray Kitty was out today and she's fine-- a nasty-looking road rash on her foot, but it looks like she might have gone to the vet and nothing appears to be broken.

There's less love for Black Dog. He was out today napping on the side of the road, looking worse for wear and very sad, but the cuts I could see seem to be healing, even the one on his eyelid. I felt like buying him a steak he seemed so miserable...

I'm focusing on our little animals here to take my mind off censorship, the rest of the world, and the earthquake (a good, long tremor in Ist. last night) I'm sure is coming because it's rainy today and the weather is all around unseasonable.

Anonymous said...

I know people here do try to take care of animals, and now that the weather has started to get warmer, it pleases me no end to see all the makeshift water bowls for dogs and cats on the city streets. But I still get emotionally upset when I see some resigned, tired, mangy animal of any kind sleeping in the cold, or just cocooned up and silent in its own lassitude or hunger or whatever. I hate it, hate it hate it. And yes, people need help too, but that's such a useless argument! Why can't we do both?

My vet/friend says that the culture of having pets is very new here in TR, and she frequently tells me interesting stories about the kinds of expectations or assumptions people have about animals and pets. Regardless of how well and how poorly some people treat street animals here in Ist., it's still a million times better than the "putting down" that goes on in "shelters" back home. I've come to a totally new view on that since living here....

Stranger said...

After awhile here, my stance on the street animals has shifted somewhat. Of course, when I can find one that will listen to me talk and let me shower it with love, I give it my best. As for the rest, I regard them as serving a purpose (pest control-- can you imagine what the rodent vermin would be like here without the dogs and cats? As much as I adore rats, and I do adore rats, I'm glad I don't have to contend much with the wild urban variety). Of course, they don't deserve abuse, but there are a lot of kind people here who just don't think animals feel anything.

Given that, humane animal control is much in order. The reason there were so many deer on the road in my deer story was because it was a neighborhood of people who'd recently built and moved there from urban areas. They thought the deer were pretty and fed them, both intentionally with snacks and unintentionally with new landscaping. Lacking natural predators, the deer flourished. Then eventually they'd become a nuisance, or a road hazard, then they'd start getting diseased and eventually people/the city would start shooting and poisoning them.

It's the same for the street animals-- feeding and watering them just makes the problem worse without other kinds of controls. The snippy-snippy, here's your shots kind, specifically.

And I don't think the Big Sleep option is all bad, in some cases, as long as it's done as humanely as you would a sick pet. It's certainly better than letting sick animals suffer and die slowly. However, the only organized efforts by the city I've heard about in that direction have been disastrous and don't bear thinking about, stuff like contracting the service out to unscrupulous companies who dump closed truckloads of animals outside of town where they're left to kill each other or die of starvation.

It's probably some research I should get on. It's not a solvable problem, but at least one I might be able to make a chink in...

Stranger said...

I stand corrected. I've only heard about the bad shit that happens to street animals at the hands of the city because I search English-language pages. And there's definitely some bad shit.

Note to self: Go and talk to the local municipal vet folks this week, because for every 10 crappy things I hear about, there's always one extraordinarily good thing I didn't know because of my yabancı bubble.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I have heard some doozies, and I keep hoping that they're urban legends -- you now the one about how the city used to put arsenic-laced meat on the streets, and then go pick up all the bodies an hour later? Or taking all the city dogs out to the Princes' Islands and letting Darwinism take its course? Creepy and inhumane, does not square with my idea of people here and their attitudes towards animals, based on what I've seen.

Deer, urban coyotes, bobcats within city limits, bears wandering into towns -- it happens (in the U.S., that is.) I know what you mean. How to find the balance? And snipping, along with those shots they give, would make a world of difference, I would think. I've heard some folks opine that it's wrong, it takes away animal rights, that the macho side of the culture doesn't really allow for considering it, etc. etc. Dunno what I think about all of those issues. Fixing male dogs just seems to make sense, but there are probably some angles I haven't thought of.

My vet friend does a lot of street animal work. I love it -- she's always good for a positive story of people who help. Like the couple out past the city limits who have a successful company and take care of 50+ street dogs -- even erecting dog houses all over their property. My friend actually goes out there and vaccinates 50 dogs at a time, takes medicine, etc., and these folks pay for all of it. That is pretty hopeful!

Stranger said...

As with all things, it comes down to money. Obviously, the city and municipalities are doing a good job with rabies control, which really should be the first priority with limited funds. Even though it's easier to fix a male animal, there is still a week or two of aftercare, feeding and housing which are probably just not affordable and there isn't enough space. I read in several places that the dogs with tags in their ears have been vaccinated and fixed, though it's clear most of them haven't been fixed...

I think there are probably a lot of people who don't fix their male pets for whatever macho reasons. I expect a lot of Americans don't fix their male pets for the same reasons, and a lot who probably do it only because of social pressure or even requirements of buying or adopting an animal.

I think the horror stories we hear may be the exception rather than the rule, carried out by either unscrupulous or cash-strapped municipalities. Naturally the horror stories would be more visible than all the good being done. Or at least I really hope they're the exception and I'm certainly more comfortable with that.

Your vet story is great! I'll bet she's not alone in that kind of work.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

The story about dogs getting collected and taken to an island (Sivriada, I think) has a happy ending. As far as the story goes, Istanbul got hit with an earthquake right after the (Ottoman) authorities did that, the people thought it was Allah's wrath for mistreating his creatures, and the authorities were pressured into bringing the dogs back to the city.

Stranger said...

Well, I'm glad it ended up happy for some of the dogs!

Rounding them up must have been a horrible pain in the ass.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bulent, that's a really interesting ending! I didn't know that!

And yes, Stranger, I bet plenty of people do good work. Less obvious than the bad stuff, is the deal.

Regards :)

Jess

Erika said...

I've heard a different ending for dog island story. It's not in the least a happy ending. It's gruesome and disturbing. The dogs attacked and ate each other--basically to avoid starvation. Anywho...just returned from Kas and Istanbul, to see what I may have missed while living the good and oblivious life while in Turkey.

Stranger said...

I think that island story has several versions. I think it also has several occurrences since the one Bülent mentions. There are also similar stories of dogs left in forests or on empty tracts of land outside town, with similar gruesome endings...

I think (hope) that these are extraordinary events, rather than usual ones. And since I haven't seen Black Dog in about a week, I just keep telling myself he's being taken care of in someone's house, though realistically the best I can hope for is that someone had the compassion to put him down, if he really got so very sick... :(