Tweety, Parker and I [reverse alpha(betical) order] were sitting around the kitchen counter this morning enjoying our lemon yogurt, ruminating about the state of the world. Well, Parker and Tweety were because I generally do not ruminate about the state of the world. I was ruminating instead on the health benefits of lemon yogurt and whether they extended to bossy talking birds.
Tweety and Parker share a common language that all animals in captivity develop. Humans, if they listen with their inner ear and heart can pick up the language quite easily. It takes some serious eavesdropping to figure out the accents, something between northern Newfoundland and old Gaelic it sounds to me; lyric and magical, but with very confused sounding M, P, L, W, V and B words or sounds because let’s face it, you need lips for those sounds. Anyway, as I was ruminating, I was also listening to bird and beast.
Parker was telling Tweety that he’d finally caught up on his pee-mail. Word on the poles and posts was that Spring truly is around the corner and as much as he was looking forward to warmer weather he was not particularly happy about his upcoming date with Peggy the groomer.
Tweety held up his claw, cupping his ear, his signal for listening, and offered to accompany Parker for his Spring haircut and hang out with him since Allie, the little red poodle that lived here and used to have yogurt and apple and cashew with us and chat, had left us to run around the Rainbow Bridge.
At mention of Allie, Parker turned to me, his brown eyes questioning.
“I miss her too, Parks,” I said.
He put his shaggy head down and his hair fell over his eyes. He sighed. I was happy that he didn’t ask for a new playmate, a puppy or a kitten. Usually he does.
“There’s talk of an uprising,” said Parker. The way he said the word, it sounded like ufthrrrithing which I did not understand. I asked him to spell it for me.
Tweety stopped scooping up yogurt from his spoon and blinked, raising his claw again. He looked at me, alarmed.
“An uprising?” I asked? “Parks, are you SURE?” Standard poodles are notorious for outwitting humans.
Parker had finished his yogurt and was sniffing at the counter for more. He went to sniff Tweety’s spoon. They might talk these two, but food is food. Tweety went to bite him..so Parker sauntered over to his blanket and sat down on his haunches. He seemed serious.
“I’m just telling you what I read,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s true.”
“Okay,” I said. “What’s the uprising about, exactly?”
Parker walked around on his blanket, circling once…twice……three times and plopped down. I watched as he put his shaggy chin, made longer by the soul patch I’d been shaping, on his front paws. Honest to Dog, I had not seen him this serious since Allie passed away in July.
“It’s what WE always talk about,” he said. By WE (pronounced EE-EE at a certain pitch that drops with the second syllable) he meant all non-human living things. “Every one is talking.”
That was true. I heard them EVERYWHERE, and all pitches, tones and timbres. It was hard to sleep. There was no silence anywhere anymore.
Parker continued. “An elephant group in India started talking with some Japanese dolphins. The monkeys heard the conversation, and you know that monkeys wouldn’t keep a secret if their lives depended on it. Somehow it got to a group of monkeys who live near the water who started talking with the fish, who started talking with everything including the birds, who started talking with the insects, who’d already heard when the elephants and monkeys were talking. Then the insects and moths and butterflies and worms and lizards and flies started talking with everybody, snakes and cows and sheep and and goats and lamas, and mice and pigs, and of course my kind — dogs — and my other kind — cats — heard all this and they talked too.
“The news was hardest on the bees, who are very sensitive to changes in any energy vibration in the air so when they heard it, they started having nervous breakdowns and forgetting how to get home. It’s all quite sad really.”
I furrowed my brows. Parker rarely goes past two sentences in a row. This had to be serious.
“So Parks? An uprising? About what? I asked
He continued. “It’s time to stop.” The way he said it it sounded like “thtoph”, so I asked him to spell it.
“What do you mean stop? Stop what?”
“Stop thinking that humans are the only ones that think and feel. Stop hurting us, stop killing us, stop eating us, stop hunting us, stop collecting us for medicine, for zoos and for security. Stop.”
My mind was racing. There are lots of species on the planet. Current estimates of the total number of species on Earth range from 5 to 30 million, and we’ve only identified about 2 million of them.
Humans are outnumbered. There’s an “estimated 10^18 (that’s 1 with 18 zeroes) arthropods on earth (insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans) and an estimated 4 trillion fish (4*10^12).”
Parker laid down then on his side then, stretching his legs out in front of him. I picked up Tweety from the counter and we both sat down with Parker, I started to rub his big shaggy chest right over his heart. It felt kind of heavy. Parker grr’d in a way that sounds like a deep purr. That’s his cat half.
Tweety stood there, his leg going up and down. He was clearly agitated. “I knew something was going on,” he said. I could hear sparrows in the morning. And the crows, but it’s hard to hear inside here.” Tweety is an alarmist, so I just nodded in his direction to help him feel heard.
“Parks, you don’t seem too worried about it,” I said, rubbing his chest a bit more.
He sighed deeply. A sigh of satisfaction? Sadness? “I’ve heard these stories since my eyes opened.”
I had met Parker’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather and mother at the kennel, as well as the kittens Parker grew up with. And while I did not think anything of it at the time, I remembered now that his father, grandfather and one of the cats had a heated discussion over Parker’s head and I was about to take him to the car.
“Tell him,” said the great grandfather. But I never heard what was said or by whom because I went to get the car ready to take a puppy and a crate.
Parker sat up looking at me. “Why don’t we go to the park?” he asked.
I looked at him and pointed to my ankle, still recovering from being broken “That’s why we don’t go, I said.”
Tweety cocked his head at me. “Get on those stick things and take him out. Maybe you’ll find out something.”
“Stick thing? Oh, the crutches.” Dog, Tweety is one grumpy bird sometimes! But he also often made sense.
I nodded. “Okay, let me get my walking cast on and boot and get dressed. I’ll take you, but I’ll have to stay on the paved path. You can run around like a crazy man if you want.”
Parker stood up and shook his shaggy self, his tail wagging. I put Tweety on his cage and got ready to go out, opting for a cane instead of crutches.
A few minutes later we were outside and he was carefully sniffing a newly marked spot on the cement electrical post outside our house while I stood there, waiting, wondering where this was all going to lead.
“Blue knows,” he said. He’s at the park now,” he said. And so that’s where we headed. To talk to Blue.
STAY TUNED FOR PART II, NEXT POST.