As I write, a four month old kitten named Simba is curled up next to me, resting against my thigh. He occasionally bats at the Sydney Opera House charm, a gift from Australian Sam that dangles from my bracelet. But mostly he is resting, purring contentedly like a finely-tuned motor in a well-maintained car.
This is new for me. I have not been exposed to animals very much throughout my life. Mostly, I have been fearful of them due to an unfortunate childhood experience.
When I was seven years old, my friend and I were skipping happily down the sidewalk, carefree as seven year old girls should be. Suddenly, it seemed out of nowhere, two German Shepherds appeared in front of us, fighting ferociously. Standing on their hind legs, they were as tall as me, and their sharp teeth were eye level. The growling was fierce, and the snarling terrifying.