Thursday, May 26, 2011

Still "Dancing with Deaken" in My Dreams

Deaken, my "Serval Son"
May 16, 1979-Sept. 11 1996
(This was Carolyn Kelley's favorite photo of Deaken.
She framed and placed it in their sitting room.)

At least twice a year, even all these years after his death, I dream of Deaken in such amazing detail that I can hear his chirp, feel his breath, and run my fingers through his fur.

I've had so many different pets that I've lost count of them all--and I know they're all waiting for me across Rainbow Bridge and that we'll reconnect one day--but the one that consistently "visits" me in my sleep is Deaken.

He was just five days old when I brought him home...

Deaken at approximately four weeks of age

He was all grey as a kitten (where he wasn't spotted or striped) except for his muzzle and his belly, which were white. I was a goner the moment I laid eyes on him.

I had tamed and trained an adult serval in Southern California during my Wild Animal Affection Training days and had fallen big-time for their unique look and presence, although I often joke, to this day, that servals look like they're put together by a committee: spots AND stripes, tail shorter than seems appropriate to me; satellite-dish ears, long, lean legs... but without a doubt, God knew what he was doing, so who am I to critique one of His most perfect creations?

Servals are the Perry Como/Dean Martin/DeForest Kelley of the cat kingdom: laid back as can be (except on the extremely rare occasions when they're riled). Africans can catch a full-grown serval and tame it easily. (You probably know how nearly impossible it is to tame and gain the trust of a domestic cat born feral, so this is a remarkable thing!) Cheetahs are the only other cat as easy to tame and train to do a human's bidding. Servals and cheetahs have been used for centuries by African natives as "companion hunters"--they can run down prey (dik dik and larger antelopes, etc.), which human hunters then confiscate for their own uses.

With their over-sized ears, servals can detect other creatures moving in tall savannah grass (their usual habitat). Their ears are so finely-tuned that they can hear rodents burrowing three feet underground. Read that sentence again--and marvel.

As impressive as it is to read, nothing prepared me for Deaken's listening abilities! In fact, Deaken essayed the feat in such an amazing way that De Kelley taunted me about it years later by drawing a cartoon of Deaken "hearing things" in the way a demented woman might IMAGINE things!   The story of what Deaken heard--and De's reactions (both artistic and verbal) appear in my first book about De, "DeFOREST KELLEY:  A HARVEST OF MEMORIES, My Life and Times with a Remarkable Gentleman Actor."

BUY IT HERE!  Or buy it at at a discount (you can get the hardbound version at AH for Amazon's softbound price!) OR get it immediately as an e-book for just $4.95 at AH.

PERK: If you get it as an ebook, you'll see all the inside pictures in LIVING COLOR, which is not the case with the tree-book versions. And with the e-book you can search by subject matter or occasion, making it easy to find all the spots in the book that are about Deaken and his interaction with the Kelleys and me...and anything else you want to look up again after reading it the first time. You know: birthday and convention shenanigans, pachyderm poop plaque, my first utterly-nerve-wracking sit-down meeting/dinner with the Kelleys; puffed penis hilarity...

Sorry... I didn't start this blog entry intending to advertise my book-- honestly!--but it occurred to me that you're probably going to want to know a lot more about my relationship with my "serval son" than what I can provide here, and I haven't written that book--yet!-- so I'm pointing you to what I do have that you can read now. But be forewarned: the story of Deaken's final days is in there, too, so you'll definitely need a hanky. Guaranteed! Many fans (fellow animal lovers) have told me they were sopping wet after meeting and loving Deaken the way De and Carolyn and I did...

I always love my Deaken visitations.  The one that occurred last night was a delightful surprise. In the dream, I was walking along a road near a slightly-forested environment in my present-day times and I heard Deaken's familiar and distinctive chirp calling out to me from the meadow-area just outside the rim of forest cover. I grinned like a madwoman and called out, "Deaken!"

He chirped again and headed in my direction at a lope. It was like he had been missing me as much as I missed him!  He practically barreled into me, purring and head-rubbing as enthusiastically as he knew how.  My fingers were all through the coat on his back and sides, reacquainting themselves with his contours.  And he has four legs and a svelte build again (where's he's been living all these years across Rainbow Bridge)--his absent back leg is restored to perfect condition and he looks as good as he did at his best (just after his "gangly teenager" stage).

The visitations are so complete, so lucid, that I can smell the environment, hear his breaths, feel his heartbeat. (I never as palpably noticed these things while he was with me in real life! This is a preview of the heaven we'll share, I think!) (For those of you who don't think animals go to heaven, you're wrong. Heaven without animals would be hell! Maybe if you don't like them, or if you fear them, you won't be obliged to be around them.. but for animals lovers, this is good news!)

Deaken has never left me. Like De, my serval son is tucked in my heart forever. For lots of reasons. I cannot wait to see my two favorite De's again someday! 

What a reunion that will be!!!


Carl Rylander said...

Lobsang Rampa said you can meet pets again in the afterlife, Kris, and I believe him. There's a 'kitten cat' on the block near me, and it's like a little black shadow with green eyes. Loved your piece.

Kristine M Smith said...

Thanks, Carl!

VenusKaio said...

The picture is so wonderful, I knew this one since a while but I never saw it this large... nearly made me cry. Thanks.