I have never been an animal person.
I do like animals.
I have had pets, and I have had affection for them. (The first was a hamster. Her name was Felicia).
But I am not good with animals. During no phase of my childhood did I want to be a veterinarian.
Most of the words Alice knows are really the names of animals or the sounds they make. Lately she plays a new game on the drive home from school. “Baaa,” she says. “Wozzat?”
She whines when I guess wrong.
I can sketch a fairly recognizable cat, and the first time I did, Alice clapped. (She also applauds when I sing “You Are My Sunshine,” by the way. It’s very affirming). She just seemed delighted that I could make a cat appear out of nothing.
She is drawn to animal pictures and animal toys and, especially, real animals in a way I would call contagious. Except that what I’m really drawn to, I guess, are her excitement and her curiosity. Her looking out.
Over the weekend, our sweet friends invited Alice to visit their patient Akita.
The next day we went to the county fair. She had a good time, but she sort of shrugged at the cows and sheep. In my eagerness to feed her interest – the first she’s shown in the big world beyond home – I have taken her to look at a lot of animals. And her experience with everyday life is still so limited that they must seem like fixtures in it now.