Throwback Thursday #4 – Pets

Lauren is tugging at our hearts this week on Throwback Thursday Memory BlogHop as we remember those best friends of our lives – our pets. Click on the link to read the rules and join in the fun.

Today’s subject: The Pets in My Life

When I read Lauren’s subject today, I was not sure what I wanted to write. I have written about the sadness of losing my pets Midnight and Queenie so I knew I did not want to tell those stories again. I have decided to go stream of consciousness style rather than plan it out.

My mother had such a strong emotional connection with animals and it bled over deeply in our lives. I always heard stories about my mother growing up on the farm, and the stories that were told over and over always seemed to involve animals. It’s not surprising we all connected deeply to animals – especially those with interesting personalities.

Here are a few of those stories.

Mickey – Somewhere along the way our parents developed an affinity for Siamese cats. We stayed with my paternal grandparents for a while and my grandmother was not a fan of any inside animal — especially those who might knock her African violets off the window sill. Mickey was a female Siamese and she escaped one day while in heat. One of the neighbors from the far side of the valley called my mom to let her know our cat was at their house. Mom left out walking to go pick up Mickey. Sadly, when she returned, my mother’s hands and arms were bleeding from where Mickey had scratched her as Mom carried her home. My grandmother asked my mother what in the world happened. My mom in her very laid back response quipped, “Everything was fine on the walk home. She was calm until I called her a little whore.” My very Christian grandmother looked my mother in the eye and said “Who can blame her then? If you called me that, I would have done the same thing.” They both laughed!

Mulligan – When we lived in Ohio, we frequented a little shop for last minute food items – Irv’s Market. One snowy night, my mom and I went to Irv’s. There was a little black and white kitten curled up near the entrance trying desperately to get out of the inclement weather. As my mom approached the door a man took his boot and kicked the kitten away from the door. My mom rushed to the kitten, scooped her up and proceeded into the store. She forgot everything she intended to buy. Instead she bought a litter box, cat litter, and cat food. Mulligan (named after a Mulligan stew – a little of everything) would eat until there was no food left in the bowl. Her little legs would spread apart because she had eaten so much but she would not leave food. She was a super cool cat.

Whiskey – Whiskey was a cocker spaniel my high school boyfriend gave me. My mom named him, saying he was the color of a good grade of Whiskey. He was smart and I could teach him anything. And talk about a beautiful dog. Just as I was graduating from high school and already committed to join the military, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My parents found it too taxing to care for our much loved dog, so my high school boyfriend took him back and cared for him. Such a good guy.

Smokey – Smokey was a pound cat my ex bought as a surprise for me. She was partially blind in one eye and her poor ears were infested with ear mites. The pound told us we could exchange her for another cat, but how do you do that once you have bonded with an animal? She was always destined to be my cat. She loved to curl up in the crook of my elbow as I petted her. If I stopped too soon, she would lift her tiny head and open her mouth and close it around my chin – not biting, but strongly suggesting I continue to pet her or else! She was a night hunter. She would howl sometimes at night while she hunted objects in the house. In the morning we would find the headphones drug into the middle of the floor, the result of a successful hunt. If we left a pack of lifesavers out, we would find a trail of broken peppermint pieces along the rug where she had eaten them. At night I took my wedding rings off to sleep because my hands would swell so much. Smokey would pick them up in her teeth and hide them under the furniture – foreshadowing my future perhaps! 😉 The kids played ‘baseball’ with her. She would sit on the back of the couch and they would toss a ping pong ball to her and she would jump up and hit it across the room with her paw. Later in life, she  saw me through a very traumatic divorce. We eventually moved on together and the last years of her life were filled with happiness and contentment.

Now we are left with Grand-dogs and Grand-cats. We love them as if they were our own. We have two Grand-cats in one household, four Grand-dogs in another (three German Shorthaired Pointers and a Maltipoo), and two Grand-dogs in another – two Boykin Spaniels. To say our family loves their pets is an understatement.

There are so many other great animals and animal stories in my family. Just as I try to close this out, I remember another pet I cherished. They all occupy a space and place in my heart. They are each deserving of their own post, but for now, I will just enjoy the afternoon with all their memories swirling around me.

Thanks for a great throwback post, Lauren.

Grand-dogs and Grand-cats

Building Trust With Animals and People

Yesterday we had a visit from a neighbor’s dog. We have seen him before. I think I wrote about him once before. On that occasion we had to call animal control because he had no identifying information. Luckily he was chipped and they were able to locate the owner. This time he had a collar with his name and a phone number.  I called, but unfortunately the owner was not home and we had to leave a message.

We do not have any fencing or a place to contain a dog, so he was just ambling along following my hubby as he worked out in the yard. He would wonder off, but always come back close to him. He is a very friendly dog but a big fella. He was content to have his ears scratched and just hang around. He could easily knock you over with one of his well intentioned enthusiastic jumps.

About two hours after I left the message, the owner called. She was apologetic the dog was there, explaining how he continuously seems to break his chain. She further explained she was at work, but that someone was going home to check on the dog. I let hubby know, but the dog had meandered off again, exploring the woods.

A man arrived shortly after to bring the dog home. He walked up behind hubby and startled him. It was what transpired next that was troubling. The dog cowered when he saw him. Even with treats, the dog stayed by hubby rather than  move toward the man. I don’t know if the dog just did not want to go home, or if he was resisting being chained up again, but my thoughts about that dog have lingered. Was he afraid to go home?

It made me think about trust, how it is formed, and what happens when it is broken. A pet depends on its owner to be its caretaker. To feed and care for it, and to love it for all its life. Was this dog trying to tell us something? He did go willingly once he was on a leash, or was he just having too much fun running in the woods?

I reflected back on my time as a teacher and how many of my students looked to their teachers when things were rocky at home. To have a child’s trust is a huge responsibility and I recall several times students shared reportable situations with me because they trusted me. It is an immense weight to carry, but one that is so important. I wonder how many children from difficult home environments have lost their safety net in this pandemic.

It takes me a long time to develop trust in someone. Trust enough that I would share the ‘big’ things. And when that trust is broken, it is very hard to recover – at least for me.

I hope the pup is ok. And I hope our ‘at risk’ children are okay.