Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pets Part 1....

I haven't always been a pet person. We didn't have many pets when I was growing up, because not even children got to go to the doctor very often. We didn't have the money most of my life, and when we did have money, it certainly wasn't to be spent on a dog.

But Sweet Girl grew up to be an animal lover, and we have allowed her all sorts of pets over the years. She had a couple of stray dogs in a previous wifetime (yes, I meant wifetime....I get the red squigglies too) when we lived out in the country, but most of them experienced bad karma.

When it was just the two of us at last, she acquired a black-and-white cat named Wheeler. We were renting a duplex that didn't allow pets, so Wheeler was an outside cat. He showed up at meal times and we occasionally allowed him to come inside and watch television, but other than that he was strictly an outdoors sort of guy.

When hubby and I got married, Sweet Girl and I moved into his house. He's lived in the same house since 19-freakin'-73, so the man isn't going anywhere. (That's fodder for another post.) Okay, it was actually before we married that we moved in, but my grandmother might read this blog. Oh wait, my grandmother passed away in 2003. Never mind.

We moved in on Valentine's Day, and it was pouring rain. In all the times I've moved in my life, I believe it has been raining every single time. We backed the U-Haul up as close to the front door as possible, and when we opened the big door to the truck, there was a gray cat inside. Not Wheeler; he rode in the car. We had never seen this cat before. He must have gotten in the truck to escape the rain when we were loading, but we hadn't even seen it around the duplex.

He was a beautiful cat, completely gray, and of such a sweet temperament. When we later got a dog, the dog would put the cat's whole head in his mouth to play with him. The cat just rolled his eyes and waited for the dog to grow weary of his silliness. Which was about 8 seconds. More on him later.

Sweet Girl named the cat Smokey, which was very appropriate. Hubby called him Smog. He rarely calls pets by their real names. This one was one of the closer approximations.

When we went to Mexico on vacation, Sweet Girl stayed home under the supervision of hubby's mother, who lives within sight of our house. But nobody supervised Wheeler, and he never came back after we returned from Mexico.

Smokey was murdered by neighborhood dogs. Their owners allowed them to roam, and they decided to pick on Smokey, who never left the yard and wouldn't harm anything. I never heard him hiss in the whole time we had him. It was a Sunday morning when I heard the commotion, and by the time I got outside, the dogs were gone, and Smokey was lying limp on the driveway. I brought him up the steps and put him in a bed on the porch, but when I went to get dressed, he had dragged himself back down the steps and under the car, where he died. I guess he wanted to die on his own terms.

Then there was Tigger, a tabby. Hubby called him Brutus. We let him stay inside some of the time, but he didn't have a litter box. He was very well trained and never had an accident in the house that I remember. He would come inside to eat, or we would put a bowl outside on the porch, and he hung around the yard. Most of the time. Except for the time he got run over at the entrance to our subdivision. This is a picture of him asleep under the Christmas tree.

Hubby had a Pomeranian, Auggie, who was 13 years old when Sweet Girl and I moved in. Auggie had to be restricted to the kitchen and dining room, so we had short little gates in front of all the doorways leading out of those rooms. After all, a Pom can only jump so high. Auggie was so funny, though. He would come to the gate leading to the living room and bark, and you had to guess what he wanted. If you went to the kitchen and took the gate down for him to go outside and that was NOT what he wanted, he would jump backward with these little hops. If he didn't want to go out, he probably wanted a "stick," a jerky treat for dogs. And he probably wanted to dig under his bed and hide it with the twenty-six sticks he had already hidden there. A Pom can't ever know when he might need to lay by for the winter. Or a siege. Auggie gradually began to show signs of old age, and he died one Sunday afternoon when I was at a school function. I came home and saw all the gates down, and I knew it was tragic.

We swore we wouldn't have any more dogs, and we didn't. For about three months. Then we got Newt, a Jack Russell Terrier. Of sorts. Hubby called him Newtster. We determined that he needed to be an outside dog, and with a fenced-in back yard, it wasn't a problem. Newt wasn't as hyper as some Jack Russells, and he was good-natured and didn't cause any problems. Didn't bark, didn't dig (much), just pretty much enjoyed being a dog. He loved the pool, and he had this very strange thing he did..... When hubby would swing his granddaughter around in circles in the water, Newt would go crazy and jump in to rescue her. He didn't do anything once he got in there, but the circles thing drove him nuts. Then we discovered that he would jump in if you just stood in the shallow end, held out your arms, and turned around in a circle. I don't know what it was about circular motion and Newt.

About two months after we got Newt (named after the son of Captain Call on Lonesome Dove), hubby came walking into the trailer where I was teaching at the time with a ball of fur in his hands. He looked sheepish (once I got my ninth-grade girls to stop squealing) and said, "He was next to the road. I couldn't let him get run over." He also said another woman had stopped, and he gave her our phone number so she could come get the dog that night. Yeah right. That woman is still laughing somewhere. That bundle of fur looked like a baby grizzly bear. So his name became Grizz. Hubby called him Grizzman. And he grew from that adorable bundle of fur into a 99-pound bundle of fur. But he was gentle and lovable, and he was the one who would put the cat's head into his mouth. The cat must have known that Grizz was harmless. And brainless.

He wanted to be where we were, but he didn't much care for the pool. When we put up the fence, it took Newt about 5 seconds to figure out how to pull the gate open from the outside. Poor Grizz never figured out how to PUSH it open from the INSIDE. He would stand at the gate and look pitifully (and rather stupidly) at us until one of us opened the gate to let him out. He wanted no part of that water. All he had to do was lean on the gate a LITTLE bit, but he never got it. Poor Grizz. I hope he and Newt are still together, wherever they are. I cried for days when they left.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Honestly it's nice to hear about all of your wonderful pet stories. My kitty died on Monday. She was 17. She was my very first cat.

Anonymous said...

I still remember when they ran away. Did you used to refer to one of them as being so dumb...I think it was grizz. The dumb ones are the best, though.