Sunday, May 6, 2012

Past and Present Pets

In honor of National Pet Week

May 6 -12

 As I sit and write this post there are two snoring puppies under my feet.  They are not really puppies any more - they are about 20 months old.  If you are an animal lover, you know the comfort and companionship they add to your life.  Please bear with me as I reminisce about both past and present pets.  I will warn you some of this post is a tearjerker.

In my fifty-eight years I have had several pets .  Growing up I had a parakeet named Blue Boy.  On my fourth Christmas Santa brought me both a tabby kitten named Mike and a dachshund puppy named Frieda.  Mike ran off to live in the woods behind the house after my mother put a pretty pink collar with a bell around his neck.  He lived for years - coming to eat then leaving.  Freida was our family dog for fourteen years - dying of breast cancer on the day of high school exams - the memory is burned into my brain.

After purchasing my first home, I rescued a cocker-poo puppy from under a shed, took him home (that was why I bought a house -to have a pet!), and named him Pepper.  Pepper and I married Chucks in 1980, and we went to live at his house.  Pepper was a smart, likable little fellow.  He never let anyone play with his toys.  They stayed in a basket.  He also would organize the pine cones in the yard into piles. His daily joy was fighting the mailman  for the mail being pushed through the slot.  I think the mailman got a kick out of the tug-of-war, too. Pepper went blind at ten years old, but it did not stop him.  When we moved, he quickly adjusted to the bigger house.  Getting a pool installed was a different story.  After walking into it several times, Pepper learned to calmly swim to the side and climb out. In his last year he developed liver problems and we had that awful decision to make.  In the end, he made the decision for us - he collapsed one morning. We rushed him to the vet, but nothing could be done.  We let him go.

We went two years without a pet until we walked into an adoption fair held by the SPCA shelter.  In one pen was three chow mix puppies - two males and a tiny female.  I held the small ball of fur and she snuggled.  Chucks and I left, but my heart was with that puppy.  We had to go back.  I was downhearted when I saw the pen empty, but the volunteer said the two males had been adopted and they were loading the female on the van. She became ours!  We named her Zoey.  She was a black and tan beauty.  However that little bundle of fur became a sixty-pound bouncy dog.  She loved to walk, and it was not unusual for us to travel two to four miles each morning. She lay on the sofa every night with her head in my lap.  As she aged, she developed medical problems including blindness.  Yes, another blind dog.  After having dealt with this before, we just continued to treat her the same as always, and she adapted.  In her last years the vet had us do a daily checklist to assess the quality of her life knowing we would have to make that decision again.  One day we came home to find her bleeding from a tear in her leg.  We took her to the vet thinking it a small thing.  Unfortunately her skin was so thin it would not hold the stitches.  Our vet did not think she could survive an operation so the decision was made for us.  She died last February almost exactly to the day thirteen years after we first brought her home.  I know anyone reading this will forgive me for stopping to cry a bit.

Zoey at thirteen snoozing

After we adopted Zoey, Chucks felt the need for a cat.  I am a dog person, but he grew up with cats.  So off to the SPCA to look over the cats.  At that time our SPCA shelter was not a no-kill shelter.  We decided to take an older cat and asked to see cats who were at the end of their stay.  The volunteer was so happy with our decision and begged us to take a cat that everyone thought was ugly. We agreed to take a look.
Clio snoozing
This is Clio - we did not think she was ugly by any means and promptly took her home.  She was a strange one.  She did not like to walk on the floor - she would jump from chair to sofa to mantel to window sill to avoid touching the floor.  When Chuck drove in from work, she would run out, jump in, and kiss him! I was a little jealous.  She and Zoey got along just fine - following after each other in the house and yard.  Here's another sad part - Clio died of feline leukemia about nine months after we adopted her.  Yes, she had vaccinations and had been tested. We have learned this does not protect cats all the time.

Molly snoozing
Chucks, Zoey, and even I had gotten use to having a cat so after several months we returned to the SPCA for another cat.  I secretly hoped we would return with a puppy, but instead we adopted Molly.  She had been a street cat - about nine months old.  We have had her for twelve years, and to this day she will not allow Chucks to hold her and barely tolerates me.  She chooses when she will sit in your lap! Her favorite place is napping on an old wooden brick barrow in the front yard.  She got along with Zoey very well - touching noses.  If Zoey got too rambunctious, she administered a swift slap. When she was younger, she would bring other people's kittens home.  I would have to walk the neighborhood to return the kittens to their rightful homes.  Now it's baby possums!  One night in a terrible thunderstorm she sat on the front porch with a drenched baby possum, refusing to come in unless I brought the possum in, too.  Now I think possums are sweet and cute, but only out in the yard.  We had a stand-off. and for once I won after giving the possum some kitty food.  She is the true queen of the household - keeping all other pets in line.

UPDATE:  Sadly Molly died on May 27, 2014.  She lived with us for fourteen years.  We miss her greatly.

Molly getting her own water!

Rufus with his favorite string toy
 One morning when I went out to get the paper Molly had brought home a kitten I did not recognize.  Chucks said no way we were going to have two cats and a dog! So I posted notices around the neighborhood and discovered someone had driven through dumping out kittens for about eight blocks.  They all found homes on each block -  including the little black one, who talked constantly, with us.  The reign of Rufus began.  He was fearless - climbing the highest trees, jumping up to the roof, and playing with everything in sight.  He would grab Zoey's tail and ride through the house.  One day the crows were cawing up a storm.  Out in a tree was Rufus on a branch, stretching up to the next branch, holding a crow by the feet.  There must have been thirty crows swooping down upon him.  I shouted for Rufus to jump and run for the door.  It was a close call, but we both made it  inside before the crows could get us.  Rufus never met a stranger - man nor beast.  He was loving and just plain fun!  He died of feline leukemia, also, when he was six years old.  Our vet said he must have been bitten by a very sick feral cat. 

Chucks and Azalee enjoy a rare snow event
After Rufus died,  Molly and Zoey sort of moped about the house missing him and, you guessed it, back to the shelter we went.  This time we adopted a five month old torti mix who had been hand-raised from about three weeks old and had never been separated from her litter mates. Azalee was named after my husband's great-aunt who was a small scrappy woman just like our Azalee. Besides I just love that name!  We have had her for six years.  Every afternoon I have to carry her around the house to look out the windows.  At night she snuggles under our chins to sleep.  Every cat in the neighborhood despises her so she mostly stays inside.  She tries to be top cat, but Molly and the puppies keep her in check.  Every time you get mad at her for spraying (I hate that!) or scratching, she does something cute and is forgiven.  She wandered off when she was young and was gone for five days.  It turned out she was behind an open-ended stone wall two blocks away.  She could not figure out how to go around the wall.  She is mentally-challenged and has to be supervised.  We do love her!

Azalee snoozing

Gosh, she is a beautiful cat.  Her eyes are actually a soft bluish-green. On one side she has white whiskers and the other whiskers are black.

Willie's first day

Now, the story of how we ended up with two new dogs.  I was devastated after Zoey died.  Even Molly and Azalee could not console me.  I needed a dog to walk and cuddle.  Last year I was attending a book fair in a building next to our Petsmart.  It was adoption fair Saturday.  A volunteer from a rescue group came out with a small puppy for a walk.  I fell in love.  I called Chucks who felt it was too soon, but finally relented.  Molly's Militia (the rescue group, not our cat) quickly filled out the paper work and sent Willie home with me.  On the way out the door I bought a dog bed, harness, collar, leash, and food.  I was in heaven!

Willie at the pool at the dog park
He should have been named Lucky.  He had been determined by the county animal shelter as too frail to survive and was on his way to be euthanized when the volunteer showed up to pick up some dogs she was fostering.  The attendant begged her to take the little puppy.  She did thinking he probably would not make it, but he thrived and grew to his six pounds of puppiness. Willie was a willfull puppy that had to be disciplined constantly, but he was smart and learned commands quickly.

At his first vet visit the questions arose -just what kind of dog was Willie and, most important, how big would he grow?  Guesses ranged from terrier mix to shepherd mix to finally greyhound.  GREYHOUND? Aren't they huge?  Sizes ranged from twelve pounds to eighty pounds - they just could not tell.  One of my neighbors reassured me that Willie was definitely a terrier mix and would probably not weigh more than twenty or thirty pounds.  Thank heavens she was right.  We have a hard time keeping weight on him - he goes from twenty-five to twenty-nine pounds.  He is so active that we have to take him to the dog park to run and play with the other dogs.  He loves it when he is being chased.

Scout's First Day
This brings us to Scout - our newest addition.  A fellow dog park person said Willie would calm down more if he had a brother come to live with him.  Chucks was not so sure about that logic.  I met Marion at Petsmart to look at a small boxer mix she thought would be well-matched for Willie.  The dog was beautiful, but already weighed thirty pounds.  Chucks and I will probably be seventy when these dogs get old so a dog that heavy was out of the question.  A woman was holding a small black dog and suggested I might want to hold him.  He was so snuggly! (You have guessed by now that my main criteria for a pet includes being snuggly!) He had been abandoned and picked up by the city.  She had been fostering him while they held him for the owner to find. him.  No one showed up so he went up for adoption.

Of course, I took him home after Chucks and Willie came over to the store to meet and greet.  Scout already knew basic commands and was housebroken.  I hate to think of some family missing him, but he has a home with us now.  He and Willie got along from the beginning. He is a pug and an Affinpinscher (not sure how to spell this) mix.  He weighs about fifteen pounds and is just a few months older than Willie.  Scout has a high-pitched squeak that can be embarrassing out at the dog park. He does get Willie into trouble like teaching him to dig up my ginger lilies and eat the roots.  Willie will stand there and not look at me if he knows he has done something wrong.  However Scout just looks and grins with his little monkey face and underbite!

Here is Scout digging up ginger lily roots.  He is obsessed with them and refuses to stop.

Willie and Scout are forever hopeful they will be able to catch one of the lizards basking in the sun.  The lizards have outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed them so far and survived!

Willie trying to snooze on his blanket on the sofa - he does not like the flash on the camera and tries to escape if he sees me bring out the camera!

I woke Scout up so I could get a picture of his face. He is so black, his features often don't show up.  He is turning gray so I don't think he will be a black adult dog.

I know my regular readers will wonder about this post being so different from my others - I'm usually painting, hunting for rusty things, or shredding perfectly good cloth into ribbons.  This post is in honor of rescue organizations and all the adopted pets.

 All of  our pets have been rescues including two birds -Dewey, a cockateil we had for fourteen years, and Beauregard Bernard, a parakeet rescued during a sleet storm while I was on bus duty!  Our pets have helped us through death, despair, and depression - they have actually rescued us!  Their faith that we will love and take care of them has strengthened our faith.  Their love is without bounds and freely given.

Thank you for the time you spent reading this post -it has special meaning for Chucks and I.

See y'all!



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  1. What a sweet line up! You have some amazing memories in this post. LOVE that you've captured them all in one spot!

  2. Visiting from Donna's Funky Junk. My congrats and admiration to you both for so many rescues. Nothin' better.


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