My niece made this comment on one of my recent posts: “I wondered how many pets ya'll could have had to not remember one! “ Oh honey! You might be surprised!
I can’t remember more than a few scattered months here and there when our house has not had at least one resident with feathers, fur, or scales! We even kept pets during the year we lived in the motor home! We’ve lived with a variety of cats, dogs, parakeets, doves, finches, fish, mice, lizards, hamsters, rabbits, and a goat. I refused to sleep in a house that also contained a snake, tiger, ferret, or rat, although there was often begging involved. Sherman, the goat, holds the distinction of being the only pet we ever ate! A disturbing family tale for another day.
I knew Gary was a keeper when he wasn’t concerned by the fact that I had fourteen cats! In my own defense only three of them were technically mine. A co-worker had just moved and left me a pregnant cat and she had eight kittens the same week that two strays decided to take up residence. Anyway, he had to walk through half a dozen of them to even get to our step and he was still smiling when I opened the door!
The animals at our house were seldom chosen by anyone. That’s what happens when people find out you love animals! At least half of our pets were given to us by people who were moving or in some sort of crisis. We adopted a dog from a doctor who learned the hard way that his “watch dog” would rather eat fighting roosters than guard them. We took in an orphaned goat brought in by hunters. We babysat the school’s science department animals for the summer. We opened our door for strays. We fed unwanted puppies. We cared for injured birds.
We must have had some very understanding landlords over the years. Even with all of our moving, we usually had an animal with us and I can’t remember too many places that refused us shelter. Most of the apartments banned cats and/or dogs, but that just meant we kept fish or birds. We’ve had several dogs and a few cats that have traveled cross-country with us. Robert’s cat, Mittens, even liked to camp with us in the motor home! When we moved from CA to OK in 1980 I drove with the children, three cats, and a dog! Gary stayed behind for two more weeks to finish his job.
Verushka was the only dog I ever truly loved. She was my constant companion until she died of kidney failure the same week that Robert was born. Even though it was a matter of priorities, I blamed myself for not paying more attention to her condition that week. I never let myself get that attached to another dog. Gidget, Dino, Rebel, Serena, Max and other forgotten dogs were just pets. Most came to untimely ends. Dino had kidney problems too, which we learned is the sad fate of many Dobermans. Max was electrocuted and had to be put down.
Cats have always fared best in our house. Many lived with us for over ten years- a miracle when you consider how many times we’ve moved. The ones with the best personalities will be remembered forever- Mittens, Charlie, Kelly, Dawn, Annie, Lint, Baby, Sassy, Chessie, and of course my spoiled rotten Daryl. Charlie taught me a valuable lesson about cats. He wore a collar, but caught it on a trellis and nearly hung himself. I was covered with scratches by the time I rescued him and I never let another of our cats wear a collar! He traveled with us from CA to OK but was hit by a car during the first month. Mittens loved to sleep under the covers with Robert. He was as comfortable in the motor home as anywhere and would actually go in and out the window. We never lost him at a campsite, even when other families tried to entice him. He loved cooked chicken livers! Kelly was the most beautiful cat we ever owned and she was so, so loveable. She almost drowned during a storm in OK. And once a woman stopped to accuse us of stealing her! Thank goodness I had her baby pictures. Lol Dawn was Kelly’s sister. We got Kelly, Dawn, and Cindy as Christmas presents for the children, but Cindy didn’t live very long. Annie was left behind in a camp ground. We’ll never know if it was by accident or plan. She was the only cat we’ve ever had who actually played “fetch” like a dog. Lint was probably the largest cat we’ve ever owned. Baby was a Manx we finally gave to the neighbor because she adored him. Sassy was a Siamese who was mean as a snake and would bite you as often as she would purr for you. I couldn’t bear to part with her because Mom gave her to me. She was killed by the neighbor’s dog just a few years ago. Chessie broke into our house several years ago while we were on vacation. She curled up on the couch, made friends with Sassy, and stayed until she developed a stomach problem and died last year.
My Daryl was one of Annie’s kittens. He was even spoiled by her and nursed long after she should have weaned him. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why he loved ice cream! He was fat and lazy and whiny and certainly the luckiest cat ever! He got caught in something and pulled all the skin off his leg, but the vet managed to sew him back together. He was bitten by a snake and lived. He was often sick, but the vet kept him on medications until he got better. He cost me more money than any other cat I’ve ever owned! He disappeared two years ago, no doubt the victim of my neighbor’s vicious dogs.
Blackie, Spook, M’n’M, Motley, Jack, Rascal, Frankie, and all the other cats we’ve owned probably deserve at least a mention. The birds and fish and other critters will have to remain anonymous. Most never even got a name! Except for Fat Fabian, my current fish. (I put the numbers on his tank for scale.)
Poor Rascal, the subject of our recent “family memory mystery” is shown below with Robert.