When I stop and really think, I’ve had an animal every single day of my life. The first one I recall is good old Pistol. He was a black but graying mixed breed who was bigger than me. My parents say he resented me coming into the house; he was there first. I recall dropping a heavy can of dog food on my big toe and absolutely shrieking with pain. Later on I would think, Did Pistol somehow rig this to happen, I mean I am always stepping on his tail. Accidentally, I should add. Pistol got in a fight with a woodchuck once and needed to be sewed up at the vet. He even managed to roll in discarded charcoal briquettes and catch himself on fire…(Survived that one too.)
I remember Puff, my all-white, blue eyed Angora cat, so much like the one in The Aristocat movie. She was deaf and never seemed to touch the floor. Life was too uncertain for her. She wanted to see everything coming, so she’d hop from hassock to table, shelf, cabinet, refrigerator… We had to keep her food dishes on the counter.
Blackie the cat scared me when I came upon him wrestling around on a flat rock in the yard with a black snake in his mouth, which was twirling and entwining itself all over his body. Blackie won!
Then there’s Suzette the poodle. She came to me when I was about 7 years old-a gift from my aunt-so they said. As I looked into the box with tiny moving fluff inside; struggling to climb the sides and meet me, my aunt said, “What will you name it? Any ideas yet?” “Well,” I said, “Since it’s a French poodle I’m naming it Suzette if it’s a girl or Pierre if it’s a boy.” My aunt looked taken aback. “You have no way of knowing this,” she told me, “but the parents of this doggie are named Suzette and Pierre. That means that you and the lady who named them are thinking along the same wavelength…”
I shrugged. This fact had no significance to me until I was about 12 years old and was told that I was adopted and that my birth mother (who bred poodles) had secretly arranged for me to have Suzette. This birth mother who had given my loving parents the gift of life, had given me the same thing: in the form of a sweet natured companion who used to lick the hamster until it fell asleep belly-up against her fur. Suzy was always smiling. I found myself very pregnant at the age of 16, alone in the middle of the night, sitting in a kitchen chair with the sound of a late night western blaring from somewhere in the house, the ticking clock, and my father’s snores. I put my hands over my face and shed quiet tears. Suzy was beside me, suddenly licking my leg in earnest. Suzy’s remains are in a box now but I sense a ‘ghost Suzy’ following me everywhere I go. I believe that.
There have been rescued dogs too- Bambi the timid black poodle who had epileptic seizures, Prince the wayward Pomeranian, Chotchey the quivering half blind chihuahua, the lumbering sheep-dog- mix with the unlikely name Princess, and others!
Oh I have had my share of kitties too. I’m a cat AND dog person. Cleo came to me during a rainstorm when I lived in a third floor apartment that didn’t allow animals. She was a calico, mostly white, with green eyes that appeared rimmed with black eyeliner. I took her in, of course. Theresa was a cat I rescued from a tree. She couldn’t figure out how to get down (thus the name tree-sa) so I climbed up and got her. Henceforth she had a home with me. I remember when I had Siamese cats. Sam stands out for being the most vocal. She had a vocalization for every little thing she did. She especially liked walking around with spare change between her teeth. She’d end up hiding it all under a throw rug. If I needed money for the paperboy, somehow it was always there. Sam had a love affair with socks too. There was a certain vocalization that I referred to as the sock call. If I heard the sock call it meant she was walking around with a sock in her mouth, the way a mother cat might hold a baby. Sam asounded so human that I once answered her, thinking she was my daughter. “Mom! Maaaahm! Mommmmm!” “What, what what? I’ve answered you again and gain. Stop calling me!” My daughter: “Mom, I didn’t call you. You’re answering the cat!”
My husband, who passed away in 2005, bought me a beagle dog in 1999. I named him Pralph after a stuffed animal my child once named. Pralph was a heart on a string! Once I house trained this dog, he never ever had accidents in the house, but more than that, he was perceptive and looked inside you with knowing soulful eyes. He’s now in a box too, er his remains are; beside Suzette.
These days I’ve got two pets: Mister Po the cat and Minnie the Bulldog-Beagle mix. I have mentioned Minnie in an earlier blog here. Mister Po is a long haired orange cat, originally found with his twin, abandoned by the mother in my friend’s yard. My friend watched a hawk swoop down and take Po’s twin away up into the air. When I took Po home he looked like a wet baby bird, with a head that lolled on his neck and wee feet. I never thought he’d make it. But since I was at the time feeding my husband Boost nutritional drinks through a tube in his stomach, I fed the kitten too with a baby bottle. When I filled my husband’s syringe, I always dribbled puddles of Boost on the coffee table for Po. Today he is a joy. And very healthy!
Minnie came to my family because she was “supposed to.” She’s taught me patience, tolerance, acceptance, to never give up trying, that no one is hopeless, how to forgive, to correct bad behaviors firmly but with kindness, and that everyone deserves second chances. And in some cases third and fourth…I’m glad I didn’t give up on her.
This isn’t even half the pets I’ve had. If I went to a genuine psychic I’m sure they’d ‘see’ a pied piper line of angel pets following me everywhere I go. I couldn’t imagine living without loving animals.
Minnie puppy, Minnie big girl