“Pet of the Week” Archive
July 26, 2010: Guillermo
“He was just returned. The shelter is full, and I don’t have room for any more rescues at my house right now. I was hoping you could just give him a place to stay until I can make other arrangements for him”.
I put the black and white lop eared rabbit in an exercise pen in the kitchen. Guillermo (way too long for a bunny name, I call him G) was adopted from a Dayton Area Rabbit Network foster home less than six months earlier. He’d been returned because “it just didn’t work out with the kids”. Translation: “The kids were not taking care of him so rather than do the responsible thing and take care of him ourselves, we are teaching the kids that pets are disposable: you don’t feel like taking care of them, you just get rid of them”. At least they were responsible enough to return him to us instead of dumping him on the street somewhere.
G wasn’t eating, he was lethargic and depressed; apparently he hadn’t eaten all day. Going from his home of several months to the shelter, then to Steve’s house, then to my house within a day had been too stressful. Within minutes I had the equivalent of a Las Vegas bunny buffet set up in his pen to tempt him; all my gardening is bunny directed, so he had a wide variety of bunny herbs and vegetables to choose from. Nada. “I spit upon your greens” he seemed to say. I got out an assortment of fruits, and then began dragging out bunny treats. G wasn’t having any of it; he sat in the corner with his head down.
A rabbit that does not eat for 24 hours is a veterinary emergency; their digestive system can shut down and they can die. After some tummy medicine, tummy rubs, prayer, and a couple of hours of lost sleep on my part, I was relieved when he began eating hay. He refused to eat anything else however; the rest of my bunny herd happily ate the untouched buffet leftovers. As it was well after midnight, I turned on the nightlight for him and G seemed to start to relax…until my tree frog suddenly started hollering about the crickets in the terrarium!
The next day, feeling better, G began growling and charging at me anytime I was in his exercise pen, or even when I put my hand in the pen to give him food or water. Bunnies can be territorial, and this is probably his way of saying he is tired of the constant road trips and wants to stay put. G never attempted to bite, but the bunny equivalent of leaping out from behind a bush yelling “Bugga bugga boo!” works every time – I never expect it, and it startles the daylights out of me.
I called Steve (his former foster parent) who said G never did this prior to being adopted. I mentioned that G also picks his xpen up with his teeth and then drops it, making a great deal of noise. “Oh that he did. All the time. He likes picking things up – his exercise pen, gratings, and covers to the ventilation shafts. We told you he got into our ventilation shafts, right? I had to tear out the wall to get him out of there. He was fine.”
Over the next few days, G became more comfortable, flopping down and rolling on his back like a dog. I tickled his face with a carrot top, and, irritated, he nipped at it and discovered he liked carrot tops. He has begun to eat a few leaves of spinach, some rabbit chow and a tiny bit of apple in addition to his hay. He now enjoys being brought out to the living room in his pen, where he can see the other bunnies. He continues to growl and charge at us.
One day as I spoke to him, he looked right at me, picked up his water bowl with his teeth, and – still looking at me – turned it upside down, dumping water all over the carpet. When my daughter brought a rag to clean it up, he growled and charged at her. This, I thought, is just the sort of behavior that led Steve to make up that ridiculous story about not having room for another bunny. Puh-leese. I have been to his house and there is not one single bunny currently living in his ventilation system.
Steve can be so selfish sometimes.
I anticipate that G will continue to become happier and more relaxed here, and that as this occurs, his growling and charging behavior will cease. In the meantime, he is definitely keeping us on our toes!
March 15, 2010
Meet “Missile,” a spunky little feline who nearly lost her life on the highway 3 years ago. As I was on my way to work, I noticed a little ball of fur (not much bigger than a tennis ball) running along the side of the road. Trying not to care, I continued to drive to work. After an hour of sitting at my desk, my thoughts kept returning to this poor little animal. Even though I knew that this cat was probably long gone by now, I had to go see if I could help her. I returned to the area where I had spotted her. Sadly, there was no sign of her. As I was approaching an overpass, there she was, trying to climb the wall. What the poor thing didn’t realize was that beyond the wall was a 40 foot drop to the ground below. I immediately pulled my car over and tried to coax her to me. Just like a launched “missile,” she darted across four lanes of rush hour traffic and miraculously made it safely to the other side. I also made it across the four lanes, using a little more caution than she did, and caught up to her. She has since become a loving member of our family and, as you can see from this picture, “Missile” has adjusted quite well.
~Lee Davidson, Scottsdale, Arizona
February 8, 2010
“Sing-Ling” is a very opinionated Siamese cat who shares her life with the Carson family in Philadelphia. She enjoys wrestling with the family Pug, Mortimer, whom she de-thrones from the family recliner every chance she gets. Her name is indicative of her desire to “make meow” whenever she feels that the moment dictates it. Lately, she has been complaining about not going outside, as Philadelphia experiences one of the worst snow storms in years.
February 1, 2010
Champ is a real hero to his family! He rescued a neighbors drowning kitten. It was back in 2006 on an August evening when the Collins family heard the loud “mewings” of a little calico kitten named Confetti. Champ their yellow Labrador also heard the cat and jumped from the porch racing to a drainage canal close to the house. There, struggling to stay afloat was Confetti. How the cat came to be in the canal isn’t known, only that the kitten had slipped out of its owners utility room door. Champ swam out and gently opened his mouth and lifted the kitten in and returned to the shore where the Collins took the kitten and returned her home. Champ received a home cooked roast from the grateful owners of Confetti.
~Roy and Margaret Collins and Kids
January 25, 2010
Belle is a beautiful horse that now has a wonderful life. But it wasn’t always so. Belle was one of five horses left to starve on rural land in South Carolina. By the time animal welfare officers arrived on the scene, Belle was emaciated and near death. She was given respite and healing at the local humane society. Belle was gentle and loving and had an innate ability to sense loneliness and stress in human beings. The Perry family of Atlanta, Georgia, read Belle’s story and called about adopting her for their daughter Katie who had just lost her white pony of five years. Today Belle and Katie share long rides together and have healed each other in the way that only God working in the human-animal bond can accomplish.
~Ted, Sarah and Katie Perry
January 18, 2010
When John Gross of Gettysburg, PA., sits in his favorite chair to do the Rosary, Dixie his beloved pet cat can hear the beads and comes running! She loves to accompany John in prayer by just being present by his side during this time! The bond between human and pet is certainly beyond this world, as Dixie’s behavior would indicate.
January 11, 2010
Ocala, Florida, is home to Wiggins a rather lucky ducky who was adopted from a Florida Animal Control Shelter just in the nick of time. We weren’t really looking for a duck at the time we went to the shelter, we were looking for a cat. Our faithful old Maine Coon cat, Commander, had passed away after 17 wonderful years with us. We heard a duck quacking in another room and asked the shelter technician why they had a duck? He told us that Wiggins had turned up at a football game, being left as a joke in one of the bathrooms. We took one look at this handsome fellow and knew we were to take him home. We have a small pond in the front of our home that the Canadian Geese visit every year and Wiggins enjoys the company while they stay. He is a great guard duck, announcing visitors with loud quacking and he is very protective of our new cat, Molly. Wiggins is truly a special animal that wins the hearts of everyone who meets him.
~Karen and Mike Strickland, Ocala, Florida
January 4, 2010
Snausage, is the curious Dachshund of Cheryl and Mark Keats of Fort Pierce, Florida. Snausage is known for cornering the local Gopher Tortoise in his hole for an hour each day. He stands guard over the hole waiting for the tortoise to make his way out. And when he does, Snausage runs around and around the tortoise barking loudly as if to announce to the whole neighborhood that the tortoise is on the move. The tortoise has been named affectionately by the neighborhood as George Slowington.
December 28, 2009
Meet “Wilbur,” owner of Phyllis O’Beollain. Wilbur is a rescue bunny who was taken in off the streets. Here he is playing Santa Claus, making his list of the bunnies at Phyllis’ house and whether they have been naughty or nice. He is best friends and roommate of Cappucino, a rabbit Phyllis took in after her owner passed away suddenly a few years ago. Wilbur is a most agreeable bunny; he likes everyone and everything (except possibly when Cappy pulls his ears too hard when she is cleaning them).
December 21, 2009
The dogs of Twin Oaks share “peace to men of good will.”
Gator, Roxy and Bud with baby Gregory
December 14, 2009
Daphne and Moochie are the very loved and well traveled pets of Jon Wilder, who has a terrific and entertaining story to share of his life with “cats!”
THE MARVELOUS MAYHEM OF A GOOD STEWARD GONE GA-GA FOR CATSby Jon Wilder
…in suburban Atlanta, a beautiful princess (read: DIVA) in the shape of a female, tortoise shell calico sashayed into my life. When she was a kitten, Jeff’s then-young daughters had named her Smudge, for she wore a golden smudge of fur on an otherwise black face. The eponymous namesake ran from her nose to the top center of her forehead.
Jeff, a good friend & coworker, gifted me with Smudge in October, 2002, as he was ‘downsizing’ to a smaller home…I didn’t meet Smudge; she met me. As Jeff and I talked in his garage, Smudge walked up to us, meowed her scratchy ‘hello’, & proceeded to rub my leg, as if she had known me all her life. Jeff cottoned onto the instant ailuro-to-human connection, presciently asking, “Do y’all want a cat?”
Jeff helpfully sold Smudge big-time, saying, “Well, she appears to like you, take Smudge.”
“Really, are you sure?”, I asked. Since I had just bought my house that very month, I was looking for a cat again having not had one for many years.
Jeff insisted (that sly old fox!) “Absolutely, y’all can take her, her wet food & dry food today. Now, she only eats ‘Kit and Kaboodle’, she won’t eat any other kind of dry food!”
I instantly agreed: “Sure”, And that is exactly what I and my son, Nathaniel, then 17, did. We took Smudge to her (and our) new home in Lilburn, Georgia in mid-October. Smudge cried all the way home; she didn’t like car rides. And that cat had a LOUD, insistent MEOOOW when she wanted to make herself heard…Smudgers was NO shrinking violet…Remember: D I V A.
The minute we got home, Smudge had a snack in the kitchen, and then wanted out into the backyard. I had my doubts. Old wives say that if you let a new cat out right away, it will run away….Naaah. Not Smudge. I’d FED her! She liked me! She knew where her eats were going to be from now on. Smudge won’t run away!!
I opened the back door to the deck, and out paraded the New Owner of the Place. Smudge walked down the steps, into the backyard, and immediately made for the right, rear corner of the house, then took another right turn toward the front yard. I watched her tail, sticking straight up in the air & swishing slightly, disappear around the corner. And that was THAT. Smudge had turned a corner in her 2nd life, literally and figuratively. I had misgivings as she went round that corner…’Are you gonna vanish, Smudge?’, I thought….
And Smudge did. She simply took a powder because, that’s how Smudge rolled. Nathaniel and I were very disappointed. I was crestfallen, actually. Here I had a new home on ¾’s of an acre, puuurrfect for an outdoor cat, and the DIVA sniffed around the new digs, filled her not insignificant belly with a snack and *POOF*! No more Smudgers….
As Christmas neared, I was sitting in my office one weekday and my phone rang. It was Nathaniel, home after school, and he was excited: “Dad! She’s here!” I thought WHO? Granny? An aunt?? His mom??? “Noooo, Dad, Smudge! She’s come back!” Well, Lord have mercy….eight weeks after her Houdini act, Smudge thought it time to mercifully grace us with her presence! That first meal was all it took; she knew where her bread was buttered, but Smudge wanted to do a Marco Polo in the 30047 ZIP code! For eight weeks! Smudge was clearly skinnier, had been in a couple of scrapes with the wild animals in the neighborhood, but was healthy and happy.
As the holidays came and went, Smudge was making herself at home – and that is an understatement. Smudge most enjoyed lolling about in my easy chair, turning over on her back, rapturously purring and rubbing against my leg, so glad to be the Queen Bee of the Wilder Household. Smudge was more demonstrably affectionate then; that would change shortly after DAPHNE arrived.
I’d mentioned to another cat-loving friend that I wanted another cat, a Siamese cat to be precise. After all, we had plenty of room for a bona fide cat farm! And I wanted a purebred Siamese, no more mixes for me, as in my childhood years! My friend and I made inquiries to various animal rescue facilities in the nearby, north-eastern counties of Georgia. The Siamese Rescue Center in Cobb County had a female Siamese! Ready to be picked up Easter weekend, 2003. She had been abused, and needed a lot of TLC. Her name was Daphne. Oh, boy, Daphne. If I knew then, what I know now….Daphne made a spectacularly inauspicious debut in the Wilder Family, both with me, and certainly with you-know-who.
When my friend brought Daphne home from the rescue center, I was very excited: a real, no-cost Siamese cat! We put Daphne’s carrier on the kitchen floor and swung open the little cage door. (Smudge’s back was turned to us as she headed toward the dry food bowl). And as Smudge was about to dine, Daphne let out the singular cry of a forlorn , frightened animal, mistrusting, not knowing where she was, and NOT coming out of that carrier either. Smudge stopped dead in her tracks when she heard Daphne wail. She turned away from the food bowl and slowly approached the open carrier, now knowing it was another animal – another C-A-T!
Daphne had begun to gingerly inch her way out of the carrier, and when I espied her scowly face and mottled white and black paws, my heart sank. Yes, Daphne was a Siamese, but she was a Siamese-Calico mix! A scowly-faced, stripey-headed, glowering, grouchy-looking mix!
Smudge growled viciously at her and dashed for the carport door from the kitchen, desperately wanting out. After this less than sterling welcome, Daphne did what any self-respecting, new-cat-in-a-new-home would do: she equally dashed, straight under my bed.
Failing to coax Daphne out from under my bed, Genius (that would be me) thought to REMOVE the mattress and box springs in order to access said cat. Said cat was having none of it. As I reached down into the bed frame to grasp Daphne, she sank her prodigious claws and fangs into the web of my right hand, between the thumb and forefinger. It hurt so much I relinquished my grasp and Daphne ran straight away into the living room, where she squeezed herself under a tall, antique pie safe whose front bottom edge had no more than 3 inches of clearance from the floor. And there Daphne stayed, frightened now beyond her previous threshold, for three entire days and nights, never venturing out for food and water.
I felt six inches high after that. That 1st night I stayed up until 1:00am, stroking her flank with my outstretched hand, cooing to her and softly whispering my apologies…she didn’t bite me but she made no indication that she was comfortable either. The 2nd night, after work, I checked on Daphne under the pie safe and again before I went to bed. She simply looked at me and moved not a whisker. The 3rd night, late, I petted Daphne’s side again and cooed sweet nothings…I heard a low, continuous noise emanating from her spot…a PURR! Daphne was purring, clearly enjoying the attention, but she made no move to come out from under the pie safe. On the Fourth Day, Daphne was espied outside the perimeters of the Pie Safe, but scampered back under the cabinet as soon as she espied me. But I was grateful for the progress. As the days went by, Daphne became curiouser and curiouser about her big sister, Smudge. Smudge was the lure that brought Daphne out from under the pie safe and out of her shell.
The problem was, Smudge wanted nothing to do with Daphne! If Smudge was dining in the kitchen, and heard Daphne at the deck door in back, Smudge wanted out at the carport door. Or vice versa. If Daphne was in the kitchen eating and Smudge came out of Nathaniel’s room after a nap and saw her there, Smudge wanted out the front door! We played musical doors like this for the better part of six months, and Smudge really didn’t ‘let’ Daphne follow her outside until about a year later. But as indicated earlier, Smudge had changed her attitude a little bit towards me, post Daphne: no more sitting in my easy chair with me, rolling on her back and rubbing against my thigh. Smudge would never do this again. She was no longer the lone Queen Bee in the house and she was not a happy camper about it. And The Diva never let me forget that either. If she thought life was bad now, as spoiled as she was, it was about to get worse…much worse.
After I told family & friends that I wanted a 3rd cat, they thought I had lost it. Even a good friend who adored cats and had two herself questioned my sanity. There was no way I was going to return Daphne, a formerly-abused cat, to the Cobb County Siamese Rescue. True, she wasn’t a real Siamese. She sure ‘spoke’ like one. Her caterwauling was relentless if she was outside in the carport for even one minute more than she deemed appropriate. Daphne sounded Siamese; she just didn’t look it. Since Smudge wouldn’t have anything to do with Daphne, I felt sorry for her. Daphne was always ready to follow Smudge everywhere (though Smudge was equally and ruthlessly ready to ‘ditch’ Daphne by running down the middle of the street). I hit on an idea: I’d get another Siamese cat! One that Daphne would be able hang with, one like herself, only purebred. A male!
Unbeknownst to me, 50 miles away, a male Siamese knucklehead was found wandering the rural backwoods of Rutledge, GA, collarless and unclaimed, meowing his guttural Siamese meows to all and sundry. He was a young pup with huge, beguiling blue eyes swimming in a black face, with long, I mean, really long, vampire fangs sticking out past the top lip of his closed mouth. Moochie had the perpetual look of surprise in his eyes and on his face. A rural homeowner had found him, but decided he could not keep him. Moochie followed the man all over his property like a dog, never shutting up, and always getting the last meow in if addressed. The man asked his sister if she knew anyone who would want the cat. The sister asked the entire work force at her office while they all lunched in the conference room if anyone wanted a male Siamese cat. Before any of my coworkers could get a word out, my hand shot up in the air like a skyrocket and I said “I do!!”.
Jayne stared at me for a second as she was somewhat taken aback by my uber-enthusiastic response….”Okaaay”, she said, “I’ll tell my brother that you’re interested and that you’ll drive out to Rutledge to pick the cat up.”
That following Saturday, I drove an hour east out of metro Atlanta to get a cat, sight unseen, and bring him back in my Honda Prelude with utmost dispatch. When I arrived at Jayne’s brother’s house, he happily introduced me to the cat he called Topcat (I would change that to Moochie, and with good reason, shortly after that).
Once Moochie was standing in my kitchen, staring & wild-eyed, trying to figure out ‘What happened??’, things really got interesting. Smudge and Daphne were already in the kitchen, having lunch. Moochie looked at them and decided he had better ‘set the tone’ 1st day so the girls would know he was now The Boss. Moochie got in Daphne’s face and hissed and growled like the man he is. Daphne received the “message” and was quiet for a moment. Daphne then unleashed the Mother of All Hissy Fits right back into Moochie’s face, clearly serving notice that she was there first, and he was always going to be an also-ran. Moochie backed away, absolutely gob-smacked, as they say in the UK, simply reeling that The Dumb Blond had called his bluff and told him off. Moochie tried the same tack with Smudge, but Smudge just walked away. Smudge was intimidated by no other animal, not raccoons, not possums, not rats, not snakes and certainly not by a Siamese knucklehead from Rutledge who tried to pull a Marlon Brando on her.
So, as of March, 2003, when Moochie arrived, the house was ‘owned’ by three cats and my son and I merely existed to assist them in their comfort. We called it a cat resort that we just happened to live at. And the name Moochie? As brash as he was, and then brought down a notch by reality, Moochie’s name was lifted from the comic strip Mutts, whose feline hero by the name of Mooch exhibited the same qualities as the real-life Moochie.
Spring 2003 rolled into Summer 2003, and Winter 2003-2004 came and went and into Spring and Summer 2004 as The Three gamboled on ¾’s of an acre, hunting & killing every living thing within 50 yards of my house. On Monday morning, my foot would press into the soft flank of a dead, young rabbit as I stepped into the carport to go to work. Compliments of Daphne. Wednesday would be Chipmunk Day, Friday, Squirrel Day.
Dismembered birds and rodents were the order of the day in the front yard as I mowed the lawn on Saturday. However, I never discouraged The Three from their appointed rounds. God made them that way, that’s how they were hard-wired, and between Daphne and Smudge, I never had rodents in the house, a good thing. Daphne, Smudge and Moochie thought they had died and gone to Heaven.
Small lizards were a snack for Daphne; she would swallow the tail last as she finished off the hapless reptile with gusto. One summer evening at dusk, I once saw Smudge chase a raccoon twice her size out of the back yard, around the famous Corner she once disappeared around, and into the neighbor’s front yard and towards the street. I didn’t know what kind of noises raccoons could made, but this one was practically shrieking as it rounded the corner. He knew Smudge was bad news – Smudge was not petite like Daphne, she was a Land Whale! Smudge was not having any raccoons in her yard!
Moochie would roam the neighborhood for days at a time, getting into serious fights with wild animals in the middle of the night. He’d come home with puncture wounds in his skull, the circumference of the teeth marks obviously made by the teeth of a wild animal, not another cat. On would go the antibacterial tincture and bandage, and an admonition that he was not going out for a few days. Moochie sure didn’t like that. He’d cried at the door pitifully, wanting OUT, as he was the Primordial Outdoor Cat. So much so, that I decided Moochie would be a lot calmer and less of a pugilist if I had his carry-on luggage removed, *WINK, WINK, NUDGE, NUDGE*.
When the mobile cat spaying truck came to my county, I got up early and took Moochie-Toochie out to the truck and dropped him off. Late that afternoon, I picked up a very stoned Moochie with a cone around his head sans carry-on luggage and deposited him in my kitchen. Nathaniel and I rolled as we watched him butt his cone into the corners of the counters and careen around the floor. There was nothing to do but wait for the anesthetic to wear off and make sure he didn’t injure himself. As for calming him down, it helped considerably, but not totally. Until we left Atlanta for good, Moochie continued to roam the ‘hood at night, looking for adventure, but getting trouble instead.
Moochie didn’t even have to leave the house to get into trouble; one evening he decided to ‘hassle’ Daphne when he noticed she was alone in the house, or so he thought.
Upon hearing Daphne’s cries of distress, a napping Smudge rocketed out of Nathaniel’s bedroom and into the living room, placing herself squarely between Moochie and Daphne. Smudge hissed her most Diva-like hiss mere inches from Moochie’s now uncomprehending cat-face. (He was wondering, no doubt, to himself: “Like, Dude, HOW did this go so South so fast?!?”). Smudge backed Moochie away from Daphne and into the living room wall. He might as well have been that hapless raccoon, Smudge was not having it. You see, Smudge loved her ‘little sister’ after all, but was loath to show it. Though Smudge HATED it when Daphne tried to tag along at night as Smudge visited all her haunts, Smudge was not going to let Moochie harass Daphne within her earshot!
In the Summer of 2005, I’d decided to return to Southern California. By November, I planned doing what only an insane person would do: driving THREE cats in carriers across the country and hoping to live to tell the tail, . I packed up my Jeep Grand Cherokee with clothes, personal effects, Moochie, Daphne – but Smudge was nowhere to be found! She was roaming the neighborhood the previous night as usual, but had failed to appear for breakfast, which was quite unusual for her. Smudge LOVED breakfast. Smudge loved ALL meals.
I’d planned to leave Atlanta at 3:00pm, Friday, and drive a few hours, making Louisiana that evening for a stay-over. I was panicked. WHERE was Smudge??? C’mooooon, Smudge, don’t do this to me! In true Diva fashion, Smudge didn’t deign to be home, so I didn’t deign to wait. I pulled out of my driveway and headed West. Spoiled Diva that she was, Smudgers could catch a plane later on…
NOTE TO SELF: NEVER, EVER DRIVE TWO (!) SIAMESE CATS CROSS-COUNTRY!!
You have to be clinically insane to drive a cat 2000 miles across the nation. You need electro-shock therapy if you drive two cats. And you need a lobotomy if those two cats are S I A M E S E. Siamese NEVER shut up in the car. You can’t drown them out with the Rolling Stones, and you can’t sing to them to get them to ‘be quiet’. And sneaking their carriers into Texas Holiday Inns in the middle of the night is no picnic. Not when you have to also sneak in their food, food & water bowls, and toys, and then their ‘porta-potty’. Just don’t do it.
Colorful Vignette: Deep into Texas, I put Moochie on a leash and take him outside the car by the side of the interstate, thinking he may want to go ‘potty’. Moochie is utterly convinced he MUST enter a certain mesquite bush that has suddenly arrested his attention. No amount of dissuading Moochie from that bush is working. As far as Moochie is concerned, that mesquite bush, deep in Texas, was PUT THERE BY GOD FOR HIM TO EXPLORE. Moochie is straining at the leash to penetrate the perimeter of that bush. I had to scoop him up in my arms and *explain* to him that the Gila monster or rattler or armadillo or whatever it was in that bush that he thought was dying to make his acquaintance would have him for lunch – time to GO!
Weeks after arrival in ‘Cali’, Moochie and Daphne were firmly ensconced in the Southern California lifestyle, lolling about in the sun, watching (and sometimes catching) birds, and living the Life of Riley. And weeks after arrival, I hastened to the Delta cargo counter to pick up a very important shipment. After Smudge deigned to return to the house in Atlanta, she enjoyed the TLC of my next door neighbors until a vet had cleared her for flight and a flight was booked.
Smudge was the last animal off that Delta flight to be picked up; I told the man at the counter that I was there for a cat named Smudge, and over his shoulder he merely yells, “Cat!”. Another Delta staffer put Smudger’s carrier on the counter as I signed paperwork. Smudge was not facing me, and I could hear her loudly crying inside the carrier, completely freaked out. The second she heard my voice, her loud instinctive purr rumbled out over the counter. Even the Delta CSR helping me noticed the instant change. Smudge knew she was home whenever she was within the sound of my voice. There would be one more time, four years hence, when Smudge would exhibit the same ‘’mood-changing’ behavior as she did on that Delta counter, under completely different circumstances.
Come April, 2006, I had moved into a rooftop penthouse one block from my job, close to Downtown L.A. The Plan was, Daphne would continue to live at my mother’s house in the small beach town of El Segundo, and Smudge & Moochie-Toochie would live, in style, in the rooftop penthouse.
Smudge was happy about that – NO Daphne to bug her, and since Moochie was afraid of her, she could be left to her own devices, & even go out on the 7-story building’s roof and watch the pigeons and police helicopters.
Moochie, however, was another story. That knucklehead was severely nocturnal. He didn’t sleep all night on the bed; he cried and yowled and played with catnip toys all through the wee hours. After many weeks of this, I was at wit’s end for lack of sleep. As was my mother: Daphne would cry and cry and cry all night long outside her bedroom window, wanting to come in. We had to do something! So…we swapped ‘em! Daphne came downtown to live in the penthouse with Smudge, and Moochie was conveyed to El Segundo to be an ‘outside’ cat. Daphne got her big sister back, and Moochie was spoiled beyond redemption by my then-79 year old mother.
It worked out perfectly. Smudge and Daphne most loved going out onto the ramparts of the penthouse building, watching the people and traffic far below, feeling invincible and superior. When indoors, Daphne would start at the window when a pigeon alighted upon the eave across the courtyard. Her mouth would open and stay open, emitting a strange, low cry that signaled her wish to dine on said pigeon.
“Daphne”, I told her, “That is an L.A. pigeon, it’s about the same size as you, and it would do a Hitchcock on your eyeballs! Don’t even think about it!”
Smudge and Daphne lived the high life, literally, for two years, until I returned to El Segundo for the duration of 15 months. Downtown was getting old, and I knew The Girls were dying to get outside, play in the grass, chase up trees, eat birds and generally lead the kind of carefree life they led in Atlanta. My new apartment in E.S. was so small, there was no way to put up two cats in there, let alone one.
My girlfriend, though allergic to cats, graciously offered her garage to Smudge and Daphne, who now had a quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac near Orange County in which to play, rest and explore…they loved it! Meanwhile, back in El Segundo, my mother, Mrs. Wlder was drawing ever closer to a blue-eyed knucklehead who NEVER let her get a last word in. Always wanting to be petted endlessly, tireless of the sole attention, Moochie snacked and napped and “conversed” and played and made friends with Elwood and Jake, 2 cats across the street. Moochie truly lived and lives the Life of Riley. He resides there to this day in the care of Dick and Carol (Jake and Elwood’s ‘Comfort Assistants’), who have opened their hearts and home to him until he can be transported to Northern California to be reunited with Mrs. Wilder. Your writer will yet again endure hours and hours and hours and hours (did I mention hours??) of cacophonous Siamese sturm und drang in the car. Never say ‘never’!
Moochie is a gorgeous cat with a ‘surfer-“oh, LIKE, THAT just happened, dude?”personality. One story from Atlanta illustrates: one night Nathaniel and I were having dinner in the dining room, as The Girls lounged under the table. Moochie decided he was too superior to stay in the same room with us, so he executed his characteristic ‘mad run’ out of the dining room/living room, down the hall and toward the far back spare bedroom.
Normally, Moochie would then perform a sharp left turn through the doorway into the spare bedroom and chill there. Normally, I said, although this time the feat achieved the height of abnormality: Moochie, in his Siamese wisdom, assumed the spare bedroom door was open as always, and at top Moochie-warp-speed smacked his head into the now-closed door, violently bouncing off of the door like he was in a Looney Tunes cartoon.
After Nathaniel and I picked ourselves up off the floor, having fully appreciated this capital dinner entertainment, I went down the hall to pick up the dazed and confused Moochie and see that he was alright. He was. Just dazed and confused.
You see, Moochie, I sincerely believe, was always destined by the Almighty to live in the Golden State: he kind of acts like a clueless stoner, as if he has just realized he is a cat and no longer a human so he is not clear on cat protocols. It is as if Moochie was a surfer from Manhattan or Hermosa Beach, who got hit on the head by his surfboard, was knocked out, went under the waves and drowned, only to be reincarnated in a Siamese cat body with a perpetual look of confusion and surprise on his face.
He truly is a piece of work, has a needy, loving heart (with the operative word being needy), and is a ‘scaredy’ cat in every sense of the word. He is easily spooked, usually runs from strangers, is prone to ‘startling’ at virtually every noise and/or quick movement, and even runs away from loved ones if you approach him too quickly. The cat is practically scared of his own shadow. If I were casting “The Wizard of Oz” with the cats in his neighborhood, Moochie would be a shoo-in for the Cowardly Lion.
Moochie is the complete opposite of the Old Soul that was Smudge. Yes, you read that right, I said was. Smudge, like Moochie, also thought she was human but approached everyone on an equal basis of cat-to-human comity and curiosity. Smudge was the smartest animal I had ever met, and certainly the smartest CAT. I had had her for only 7 of her 14 years, but we loved her as ‘family’.
Last May, at midnight, 14 year old Smudge was meowing FRANTICALLY outside the house on the front driveway. The meows were so sharp, metallic and rapid fire, that at first I thought it was an electronic device going haywire! I came out of my doze with a start and realized it was Smudge!
Well, Smudgers, as I always called her, was trying to get my attention big time! Thinking she was injured, I dashed out the door only in my skivvies and T shirt, and scooped her up in my arms. As always, I held her furry face, like smooth black velvet, to my face and asked her whatever was the matter? Smudgers instantly launched into her loud ‘hyper-purr’ at my caresses, à la the Delta counter, and I held her this close for at least 10 minutes. Smart old Smudge had a reason for her frantic midnight call; she wanted to say ‘goodbye’. Because, Smudge, I am convinced, knew she was dying. She made sure, however, to call on me before she went off, as cats are wont to do, to privately purr herself into Eternity.
Daphne misses her ‘big sister’ dearly. Occasionally, I ask Daphne, “WHERE’S Smudgers??” and Daphne, on 2 occasions, has paused to look OVER HER SHOULDER TOWARD THE STREET to see if Smudge is sauntering up the drive…she cocks her head left to right and scans the drive for her beloved big sister….Yes, I know Smudgers is in a better place, and waiting for me…I hope St. Francis has met her, and talked to her about her ‘jealousy’ thing…heh heh. I miss my Smudgers. She was a beautiful, loving cat with an enormous personality. My mother adored her; Smudge was her favorite! (before Moochie Toochie). Only God could have ‘nudged Smudge’ to say ‘goodbye’, and have me comfort her in her distress. We never saw Smudge again after that night.
Daphne is still in the cul de sac near Orange County, keeping the dreaded ‘White Cat’ out of her yard, and waiting for and greeting us in the morning and evening as we come and go. True to her part-Siamese nature, she will follow us up and down the driveway as we go, and when she sees our cars rounding the corner, she madly gallops down the street to beat us to the house. She meows like the Dickens if we ‘greet and run’ into the house. Looooooooong, caterwauling cries for attention that we can hear in the back of the house. Now that Smudge is gone, Daphne requires much more TLC.
I will never forget how Daphne would sidle up to Smudge and let her tail wrap around Smudge’s neck like Mae West’s feather boa, eliciting as mild a response from The Diva as walking away in disgust to as severe a response as a loud hiss and a half-hearted claw swipe to Daphne’s face.
All Daphne wanted with Smudge was to love and be loved back. That scowly-faced, stripey-headed Siamese mix which disappointed me on Easter weekend all those years ago is near and dear to my heart. Not a more affectionate, loving cat can be found! And as mentioned above, can she talk! A TRUE Siamese!
I have no idea how old Daphne is now, nor how much longer I will enjoy her company. May she always have the speed, spryness and strength to elude the World’s Naughtiest Miniature Dachshund! Insanely psychotic (is that redundant?) and lovable, Slinky’s favorite thing in the world is to dart out the front door and chase Daphne up a tree. Slinky can’t catch her, never will. But Slinky literally shakes with the anticipation of grasping Daphne in her snapping snout!
Colorful Slinky Vignette: Once 2 summers back, Slinky cornered Smudge in the garage, and Smudge, being Smudge, just stared at Slinky as if to say, “And theeeeen…???” When Slinky pushed her luck, she got a face full of claws from the mighty Smudge, and quickly backed away from The Diva with the shrillest YELP/SHRIEK I’d ever heard.
And so the two remaining Siamese who were once chauffeured 2000 miles to the West live out their pampered lives in sunny Southern California. One day in the Spring of 2010, Moochie will head for points north to live the rest of his days in the care of his ‘granny’, who adores him with all her heart. And Daphne? She has the ‘Siamese job’ now. And, Daphne, ‘the dumb blond’, is performing it with poise and charm to spare….
November 30, 2009
My first trip out to DR Farm was a year and a half ago. That is when I met and fell in love with “Tootsie.” She is the horse that I chose to sponsor at DR Farm. She is a 2002 PMU foal which is an abbreviation for Pregnant Mare’s Urine, which is used to make estrogen supplements for menopausal women. The industry leaves tens of thousands of foals as by-products each and every year. Although most end up slaughtered, many are suitable for competitive sports.
Tootsie is one of the lucky ones, she has been trained using Parelli Natural Horsemanship since she was six months old and is used to teach others about PMU foals and Natural Horsemanship practices.
She is beautiful, noble and loving. Thank you God for such beauty!
November 23, 2009
“Midnight,” owner of Alan and Sue Schorr was rescued by the Schorrs from teen age boys that were about to set him on fire, October a year ago. “Midnight has given us love beyond measure and we are so grateful we were at the right place at the right time.”
November 16, 2009
“Toby” is the patriotic owner of Earline Neeley from Perry, Florida. Toby was a “replacement” for her departed 16 year old long coat Chihuahua and he very quickly made his own place in her heart. He rules the house…when the cat lets him! Here, Toby is paying tribute to our veterans on Veterans Day.
November 9, 2009
“Penny” is the owner of Camille and George Bradley of Scottsdale, Arizona. She was discovered living under our rental cabin while vacationing in the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. When she was found, Penny was estimated to be only 5 months old and on the verge of starvation. She was taken to a local veterinarian where she was given wonderful care to bring her back to proper health. Having fallen in love with such a sweet, loving animal, we did not have the heart to leave her behind. Penny faired well despite the long journey with us back home to Arizona. She is now a thriving 7-year old cuddle-kitty that never seems to miss a meal!
November 2, 2009
This beautiful blue-eyed dutch-marked bunny is “Oreo,” owner of Phyllis O’Beollian from Ohio. Oreo is Phyllis’ first rabbit, a sweet, calm, loving rabbit. She is now elderly, but still enjoying life with her companion rabbit, Cookie. Oreo has had many health problems since her rescue as a stray, and God has always brought her (and Phyllis!) through these stressful times. He is indeed watchful over even the smallest of His creatures.
Visit Phyllis’ insightful and amazing article: Tongue Piercing for Rabbits.
Visit SUSI’S COMMENTARY ARCHIVE to read Susi’s touching connection with the bunny-life.
October 26, 2009
“Pumpkin,” owner of Samantha Jennings in Reston, Virginia, is a zesty 8 year-young tortoise-shell feline. She was rescued 7 years ago from a shelter one week before Halloween and has been the run of the household ever since. Pumpkin was the only female in her abandoned litter of 9 kittens, which is probably why she has such spunk. During her “free time” away from lounging on the back porch, Pumpkin enjoys maintaining the order among the other cats and dogs of the house. She also enjoys her lap time where she is petted and adored. Being that Pumpkin is constantly on the “prowl” for mischief, she is dressing up as a lioness this year for Halloween.
October 19, 2009
“Alex” moved in with John while John was still a bachelor. After a couple of years with John to herself, Alex found another human named Cathy had invaded her space. To exert her influence, Alex decided that all of the plants that Cathy had moved into her (John’s) space would be decimated. And so it went until one day Cathy was home alone with Alex, who had been living “outside” on the porch, neighbors began home construction. Alex began hollering to come inside and when Cathy let Alex in, she ran and hid under a piece of furniture repeating, “It’s OK Alex, it’s OK.” From then, Cathy and Alex were friends.
Over the years Alex had learned to call John’s mom, “Gramma Grape” and Cathy’s mom, “Beeper.” Alex can sing the tunes “Happy Birthday” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”– but certainly not on que!
Though in her 30’s, Alex continues to be the matriarch of her family by ghost writing the family’s [dreaded] Christmas newsletter. She can only imagine the number of fans she has since she has problems reading the letters that arrive in her name.
Alex has recently decided to join a nudist colony (of two). Her other room-mate decided to go featherless several years ago. John blames it on the loss of another birdie room-mate as a possible cause of Alex’s de-nuding, but only someone else with more insight into Alex’s brain could give us guidance. We love her none-the-less !!!
John & Cathy, St. Augustine, Florida
October 12, 2009
“Seamus” is the proud owner of Megan and Michael Trang. As a product of a Craigslist search, Seamus was saved from the Jefferson County, MO shelter in late 2008 by Megan and Michael. He is mischievous at times but always ends up surprising his owners (and unsuspecting guests) by nestling up or pretending he is small enough to be a lapdog. He is quirky, to say the least, with his unusual sleeping positions including his half on/half off the couch move, and the classic upside down superman. His playful tiger-like pounces, kind heart, desire to be loved, and playfulness make them question how they ever lived without him.
October 5, 2009
“Sport,” owner of Cathie and Michael Scine of St. Augustine, Florida, is a lab-mix and spry and healthy at the age of 15. In 1994, Michael and his brother, Dominic, found Sport rummaging through dumpster scraps at the sight of the two brothers’ high school summer job. It didn’t take much to convince the parents, Sport has a certain charm. They learned that he was one of a large litter who ran away from a family who made no attempt to search for him. They considered him the least of the litter. He now lives with Michael and his wife, Cathie, enjoying his retirement years with a lot of sleeping, visits from friend pups, and an occasional adventure in camping or beach trips. He is the kindest, sweetest dog there ever was, and he deserves so much.
Matthew 25:40: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these…you did for me.”
September 21, 2009
“Roxy,” owner of Seana and David Hutchinson of Jacksonville, Florida is a 4-year old shepherd/black-lab mix. She was rescued from an animal shelter just days before being euthanized as she was described to be “unadoptable.” She is now the most loyal, loving, protective, family-oriented dog anyone could ask for. Roxy is a living example of how far a little patience and love will go for any animal, especially those who are deemed as “less than desirable” companions.
October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.” During this month, keep in mind that all those “unadoptable” dogs in shelters only need someone to share a little patience and love.
September 14, 2009
Here is one of God’s magnificent creatures. Gus was found wandering in the streets of a small town in the Central Farming Valley of California about 3/12 year ago. “Gus” was rescued just a day before he was to be euthanized. Now Gus shares his Godlike love as a service & therapy dog with all whom he comes in contact. He is truly an angel on a leash and we are so blessed to have him as a family member.