Thursday Thirteen: Remembering Favored Animal Companions

I couldn’t think of a topic, so Ju has just asked me to name 13 of my pets.  That’s nice and simple, since my brain is fried after a night of no sleep and a day of sick baby.

  1. Chummy is the first dog we had.  We were just little tykes so he looms large in our family lore and my brother and I remember him with love.  When we moved from the house with the big tree, my parents took him to a farm where he would be happier.  I’ve always hoped that was a true story.
  2. Bootsie was the first cat I believed to be mine.  At the time, I didn’t realize that cats owned you and not vice versa!  I was five and wanted a kitten desperately, so my Pop and his friends went to Carl’s house and chased a cat down in his alley.  I always remember Carl and Stine’s car because it was a Thunderbird and even at that age I probably realized on some visceral, subconscious level that it somehow looked out of place parked in front of an apartment complex.  Bootsie ended up attaching herself to my Father, although I kept trying, in my very small child way, to drag her out from under the couch so I could convince her that she was my cat.
  3. Chummy & Pal Pal were two little terriers that decided they needed to belong to our family.  We always had strays in our neighborhood and somehow we convinced our parents to let them stay.  I don’t think they wandered into our lives at the same time, but I really don’t remember.  What I do remember about them was the night of the big thunderstorm.  All four of us kids were in my parents king size bed admiring the thunder and lightening and these two short dogs jumped UP about five? feet and through a closed transom window after a very loud boom of thunder and a bright bolt of lightening.  Then of course they ran right into my parents room and jumped up onto the bed in the midst of all and shook their wiggling, wet and muddy bodies all over the group. 
  4. Tammy was a little terrier/whippet cross (so my mom believes).  She had the same markings as, but was a little larger than, the one miniature pinscher I’ve known (props to the memory of Raisin).  Tammy was a gift to my sister, Jerie, from Bill, a family friend who had promised her a black lamb.  He was a truck driver and the man all the kids in the neighborhood loved because he would always have a pocket full of quarters and dollars and dispensed them liberally.  He had a special love for Jerie, hence the promise of the black lamb.  I guess he gave up on being allowed to give her a black lamb and showed up one day with a little black puppy. I don’t know why my parents allowed us to keep this puppy, but she became an integral part of the family and my very best friend for many years.  She used to jump the backyard fence to come and walk me home from school every day (my parents put in a higher fence to TRY and keep her in — didn’t work).  One of these forays into the wild, cruel world resulted in her being hit by a car.  Her leg was broken and, miracle of miracles, my parents took her to the vet and PAID for her leg to be set!  My mom nursed her back to health by snuggling her in the big red chair and keeping her in a playpen so she wouldn’t get too rambunctious. After this special treatment, she adored my mom and used to go everywhere with her.  She’d hop up into the truck and lay along the back of the bench seat behind my mom’s head, making it easier to stick her head out the window and enjoy that whipping wind that dogs love so much. 

    She had such a funny personality and would listen to all of my teenage woes.  She also slept in my bed, or allowed me to sleep in her bed!  She used to get in bed, under the covers, before me, every night and then stay in bed, under the covers, long after I’d left for school everyday. 

  5. Doc was one of my many rabbits, but he had a distinctive personality.  My brother and I convinced our parents that we had to have rabbits, so they made us promise that we would get two of the same sex (my parents were both farm kids and KNEW about rabbits).  We promised we would and brought home two black rabbits that I think we believed were male?  Can’t remember what sex we thought they were anymore.  Doesn’t really matter because, of course, they were a male and a female. I think we named them Blackie and Midnight.  They were beautiful, velvety bunnies and we loved playing with them.  We’d crawl right inside the hutch my father made for them and hang out with them.  Well, wasn’t long before one of them was preggers and we had bunnies.  We loved them all, even when they multiplied to 50!  I have no memory of how we disbursed them all, but I suppose many of our neighbors ended up with rabbits. Doc was the result of one of the litters (are rabbits delivered in litters?), and I was allowed to keep him.  He was a character and we all loved him.  At one point, a dog dug under our fence and attacked our rabbits in their hutch and Doc was severely injured.  He had a huge hole in his back that was gory and gross to behold.  I was devastated but when my parents were going to put him down, I was adamant that he could be saved.  I was too young to realize what this involved, but I’ve always been a sucker for my pets and wouldn’t let them give up on him.  My Father took on the responsiblity of caring for Doc.  Every day after he arrived home from work, we would clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide, and then bandage him again.  I remember my Father being very caring and gentle with Doc and miraculously he saved his life.
  6. Somehow we became known for our city of rabbits and were called by a family that needed to find a new home for their rabbit.  I don’t remember what kind of a rabbit Simon was, but he was HUGE and he was spoiled.  Simon lived in the house and did his business on the newspaper in the corner.  He used to sleep behind the water heater.  He was also a quirky personality and became a prized member of our family and my brother’s special friend.
  7. Annie & Sara were two dogs that Vicki brought home when we lived together.  Vick had moved into a new place and went to the pound one day and rescued Annie.  Annie was a gorgeous Australian Shepherd who was so happy to be freed from the pound.  She was a fun and boisterous girl and would run up and down the hallway playing with Kenny and exuding such joy that’s it’s always been a treasured memory (even the part where Karen was so pissed off about the dog playing noisily in the house!). We used to take her to the beach where she could chase seagulls and nip at the waves. At one point, Vicki again found a puppy to rescue (why does everyone think I’m the sucker for animals?).  Sara was on the freeway on-ramp one day as Vick was headed to her sister’s house, so of course, she scooped her up and brought her home to me.  Since Vicki was going to be away for the weekend, I was the one to bond with the new puppy, Sara.  She was sweet and cuddly and attached herself to me immediately.  Annie was soon her hero and best friend and they played constantly.  She was a joy to me and I missed them both dreadfully when I moved out of the state and had to leave them behind.
  8. I got a call from my sister one night, pleading with me to take the kitten they had found.  Apparently they had just refinished the foundation on the house, not knowing that a mother cat had her kittens stashed under there.  I guess the mother cat was able to move all of them except one.  This kitten was crying loudly under the house and my sister kept hearing it at night.  So she made her husband crawl under the house to look and he came out with Precious (she was named after Jerie and Rebecca’s puppy who had just died).  They couldn’t keep her and couldn’t find anyone else who would keep her. I had no desire to have a cat, nor anymore pets, but I couldn’t stand the idea of them taking her to the pound, so I agreed to adopt her. She was teeny tiny, probably less than a week old.  We fed her with an eyedropper and took her everywhere with us.  I would take her to work and leave her in my truck during the day so I could come out and feed her.  When I would go to stores, I would carry her in my purse or tuck her in my hoodie.  She grew up thinking that cats were supposed to travel and believed the dashboard of my pickup was her special place.  I loved that little punk so much and I’m still not sure I’ve forgiven her for escaping the house and getting hit by a car.
  9. Foxy & Georgie were two little kittens that were presented to me as a gift not long after Precious was killed.  Vick’s boss had them driven down the length of the state and they were delivered to us one day at work.  Poor Georgie was very sick after the trip so I began worrying about them from day one.  These were again both supposed to be the same sex but that never happens.  I really knew nothing about cats and had no idea that a brother and sister would mate.  Nor did I realize that they could get pregnant at such an early age!  So they hadn’t been with us for six months before I had Foxy delivering four little kittens in my lap.  We welcomed Simon, Tigger, Angel and Gina into our family in the same year that their parents arrived.  And due to some things I’d been enduring at that time in my life, I wasn’t able to give them away!  Of the six of them, Angel and Gina, are alive and spunky 18 year later.
  10. Buddy and Sadie are another two of my cat family.  One day Vick and I were leaving the park after playing tennis and happened to walk by a crowd of women by a fence.  Curious, we stopped to see what had attracted all this attention.  Turns out that on the other side of the fence was a large storage yard, full of trucks and lumber kinds of things, that had been used as a dumping ground for unwanted cats.  Some of these women would bring food everyday to feed these cats.  On this day they had noticed that there were some kittens and they were trying to coax them over to the fence.  I went in and grabbed them for these ladies, only to discover that nobody had a plan for them after they were captured.  Obviously I tucked them under my sweatshirt and took them home with me. I will always remember giving them a bath that night.  They were just little balls of fur and the fleas were flying off  them into the water.  Poor little Sadie kept mewing pathetically at me to get him out of the tub, but Buddy was brave and took the bath without complaint.  It turns out that I had guessed the wrong sex for them.  Sadie was not a pretty lady, but a very pretty, and it turned out, very large, boy.  Buddy was a sweet little girl and soon became permanently attached to my body!  I was home after a surgery and the timing was good for them to adopt me as a nice warm body to replace their mommy.  Unfortunately, this was not even six months after Foxy and Georgie had just delivered their litter in my lap, so I was now the proud mom of eight cats.  And 18 years later, Sadie is still kneading and nursing under my arm any time he can catch me sitting still after the baby is in bed.
  11. Mukiwa was another stray that we rescued.  She was living in a very bad situation and was noticed by one of the guys we worked with.  He rescued her and she was taken in by some friends from work.  She went through a few different families who, for different reasons, ended up not able to keep her.  Ju called me at work one day and told me of her plight and pretty much pleaded for Muk’s life.  We had already made a decision that we couldn’t have pets because we lived in the city and had a very tiny yard and our work/school hours pretty much ensured that we didn’t spend much time at home.  I think Ju knew that if she asked me I wouldn’t be able to say no, so of course we agreed to take the puppy. I remember when we walked into work and Brent let her run down the hallway to come and meet us.  Her hind legs sort of had a life of their own and ran up to the front of her in a very comical manner and her snout was huge!  We looked at her and then at one another and cracked up.  We wondered out loud if we could change our minds because we didn’t know that we could really grow to love this poor, ugly pooch.  But we took her home, in between us on the seat of Tinkey Winkey, where she was so tiny that she couldn’t even touch the both of us.  She settled right down and seemed so secure and happy to be with us, that of course we became entranced and fell under her spell. Once we got her home, all eight of the cats had to check her out and explain to her, in cat terms, exactly where she fit in the hierarchy of our family.  Mama Foxy took her under her wing and raised her the right way.  She was our very special girl and we were sad to later have a vet explain that her lopsided gait was an indicator that she’d probably been hit by a car and not treated for the injury.  It was eventually this injury that caused her death and our ongoing grief, but she brought us a great deal of joy while she alive and her memories continue to bring us great joy.
  12. There was a brief period of time when Ju had to leave the country to prepare our next home.  At that time there was a cute little pup who kept appearing in our yard to play with Muk.  They would run madly, barking and tumbling in obvious enjoyment.  One day I just decided that she needed to stay with us permanently instead of roaming the streets indiscriminately. We found out later that we had rescued her from becoming a fighting dog and have had reason to be grateful that I was a sucker and took her in.  She is the sweetest, kindest, and surely the most timid soul and would never have understood being put in a pit to fight other dogs, nor would she have taken well to the mistreatment that is typical for these “investments”.  She and Mukie were instant best friends and played constantly.  They were both so happy when we moved to the country.  Tora loved tormenting Muk to get her to play and following her on her patrols and bird chasing forays and she has really missed Muk since her passing.  She is our couch potato and babysitter these days and keeps us warm at night.
  13. I’ve already skipped too many pets but I have to mention my sweet little snugglers, Nyx and Helios.  There was a cold and blustery Autumn night, when we returned home from our Adoption training classes, and found a noisy little kitten on our back step.  She was adamant that we pick her up and get her out of the howling wind and cold, now!  So we did.  We almost named her Dot, because of the orange dot on her forehead, but went with Julie’s family tradition (for naming Great Danes) and named her Nyx instead. Later that evening I was reading and kept thinking I was hearing a kitten crying.  Julie assured me that Nyx was okay, not crying. Yet I kept hearing the cries so went prowling around the house just to make sure.  I didn’t find any crying cats in the house, so I went outside to listen for a minute.  We were practically having a tornado outside, the winds were so bad, but I heard a kitten cry. I almost had the noise pinpointed but couldn’t see very well in the dark, so back in the house I went to enlist the aid of Julie.  She always grumbles, but she always helps me on my rescue missions.  She brought a flashlight and a ladder and we rescued Helios from the treetops.   We suspect that he was chased up the tree by coyotes and that he and Nyx were probably not the only kittens that had been dropped off at our house in the country.  Anyway, Nyx and Helios have joined our brood and are now the fattest and largest cats in our family.

Nyx & Helios arrive

I know that was my thirteen, but I have to make an Honorable Mention category.  We recently adopted a puppy for Tora.  We were very hesitant to adopt any more pets because since we’ve moved to the country, we’ve lost our most adventurous cats, Foxy, Tigger & Buddy, to coyotes; one of our most shy and timid cats, Simon, was killed by a cat we “rescued”; Georgie was hit by a car just before we moved and our precious Muk had to be euthanized because of the damage caused by hip dysplasia and previous injury.  Needless to say, we’re sort of wrung out by grief. 

 Zuva

These losses have made us gun shy and we didn’t know if we could really give a puppy the love it would need, but poor Tora was just devastated and so lonely after the loss of Muk that we decided to give it a try.  Julie spent hours online looking for a dog that needed to be rescued, one who would also be good with cats and still have enough energy to play with Tora.  Eventually she found Zuva.  She is our golden girl.  She is a happy, boisterous personality and she prods Tora to get out and play.  She is the only skinny member of our family and is very happy that we are back in the country after a brief stay in town.  We love her very much and are glad that she’s joined our family.

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~ by byrningbunny on January 18, 2008.

One Response to “Thursday Thirteen: Remembering Favored Animal Companions”

  1. I love to read your blog and I am SOOOO happy you have joined me in the blogging world.
    We need to scan some pics – will you add that to one of your lists? LOL

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