Occasionally, though, we get a sharp reminder that Alice has a past. It’s times like when we talk about something “stupid” around her and her cheery face falls, when people on the street walk behind her and she jumps in our laps, or when a loud motorcycle or car drives by and she cowers by our feet, her curly tail drooped in a j-shape.
Every once in a while, there are moments when the reminder isn’t her reaction, but rather a completely unsuspecting. mundane scenario. Last night was one for me.
Alice beat The Human Male and me to bed last night. We had a long afternoon of taking pictures with my friend at the cherry blossoms, and it wore her out. While I was getting my pjs on, she brought her blanket and Frankengiraffe to bed, then snuggled up with them and fell asleep.
I’ve seen Alice in bed hundreds of times before, but last night it actually stopped me in my tracks. She looked different than normal. First off, she was actually asleep, not just faking it until she knew she wasn’t going to be put in her crate. And second, she wasn’t jumping on The Human Male’s head—one of her favorite bedtime activities. Her expression was so peaceful, so content. Alice looked as if she felt safe and found the place in the world where she belonged—in a cushy bed with her humans and her prized possessions. It made me wonder what she was dreaming about.
It also made me think about how just nine months ago, she didn’t have a bed, humans, toys, or a blanket of her own. She was out on the street, fending for herself. We know she didn’t have anything then. But before that point, did she have humans, let alone ones that loved her? Did she get regular meals, let alone healthy ones? Did she have a favorite toy or a place she could call a bed? Was she in a situation where she felt safe and relaxed?
A lot of the evidence points in one direction: Alice has scars, was picked up as a pregnant stray without any identification (no collar, microchip, or tattoo), gets scared when people stand in a circle around her, and gets manic when we return home—like she never expected it to happen. But there are certain things that point in another: how sweet and loving she is, the fact that she was potty-trained (or picked it up quickly), her uncanny ability to learn new tricks, and her love for kids.
I’d really like to think that, whatever her past is, someone somewhere along the line took care of her for a time, but wasn’t equipped to do it forever. Mainly because I can’t fathom her getting treating badly up until this point in her life. I also have hope that maybe Alice can understand that the bad times were a once-off, temporary thing. That things will be okay from now on.
And this may sound strange, but I do also hope that the person (fictitious or not) she was with in her past chooses to believe that she’s okay now; that she’s a valued member of a family, has a full belly and a basketful of toys, and sleeps safely and soundly each night in a warm bed.
Whoever you are, and whether you exist or not, I promise you: we've got it covered from here.