Saturday, January 13, 2007

My other children

Last night I was with some friends, all of whom do not have children (yet), and the night before that I was with some other friends, one of whose children are grown and out of the house. The conversation moved to pets, and the change of lifestyle and status the pets enjoy after kids.

Before kids, we had pets. I had a passel of cats and a beloved dog. None of these pets are alive now, but they remain quite fixed in my memory. So here's a story of each of my first babies. None of them ever moved to the new house, so all these memories are from our first house.

Rocky: was our childhood dog. Didn't last long - we moved cross country and didn't take him with us. He was cute and small but lived outside so wasn't cuddly and sweet. So he doesn't really count.

Scooter: my first cat, purchased from a pet store in 1989, before my sophomore year of college. Why did I pick her? Because she came right up to me and bit my finger. She set the bar VERY high, and no other cat has come even remotely close to her awesomeness. Smart, gorgeous, and had attitude for miles. If she were human, she wouldn't be my friend, because she was way the hell too cool for that. But she was very sweet to me (and later, to my kids) when I was sick.

From Pets
In fact, every time I got sick (or later, one of my kids got sick) she would lay on my chest and cuddle. And for the first two-thirds of her life, that was all the cuddling you'd get from her. She mellowed and became more affectionate with age, but she also lost some of her bladder control and, as a result, spent more time outside. Sadly, the dogs next door were unruly and undisciplined and wild and big and thought cats were tasty. They got her and did some damage. Fortunately the neighbors knew they were culpable and took her to the animal emergency center, paid for her treatment, and brought her home. She was 15 when that happened. She never was quite the same, and she very quietly passed away early in the morning on Pearl Harbor Day 2004. I miss her very much but am so relieved that she died quietly and on her own. My husband called me to tell me she had died, and waited until I came home before he buried her in the back yard.

From Pets
My second cat. He was big, dumb, and possessive. I likened him to the feline version of a luggy guy who occasionally would beat up his girlfriend because she looked at someone else. He was also gorgeous and very verbal and had the prettiest eyes and was so muscly. And he loved me with a love so great and deep and intense that when our baby boy came home from the hospital, he totally lost his $hit and tried to hurt the baby and I kicked him out and he got hit by a car a few months later and I wasn't sad a bit about it because? If you try to hurt my kid you are dead to me.

From Pets
Oh my gosh she was darling. The cutest fuzziest kitten. Who adored Warhol and me and Rich and everyone else. We called her "lap slut" because it didn't matter who you were, if you came to my house and sat down, she was going to sit on your lap. Love, love, love. She was the best cat and never broke anything or marked anything. And she started sneaking out of the house through the basement vent and early one morning (Bastille Day) my neighbor called me because she was in her driveway and broken. I guess she had been hit by a car and her back was broken. She was conscious still and we gave her some emetrol with tuna fish and I cuddled her until we could take her to the vet and he put her to sleep and I cried all day. My husband buried her in the back yard. She was 11.

From Pets
Oh my darling darling Quentin. My first "real" dog. I adopted him from the Humane Society on first sight. I wanted a dog who would be gentle with my cats, and I also had visions of saving a dog from death row. Turns out the Humane Society was a "no kill" shelter, but this one was, in fact, likely to be put to sleep. Because he was blind. Not old and blind. Puppy and blind. Well, I don't know if it was his scruffy good looks (golden retriever and chow mix) or his adorable vacant stare (blind) or his really sweet personality, but I was smitten. Oh yes. But he wasn't ready for adoption yet (needed to be neutered), so I visited him every weekend. And then he went to the vet for his surgery and they realized he had DISTEMPER. But they had saved a couple of dogs from distemper before, so they treated him. And I visited him, like, every day. Because I was so in love. And he was okay and got fixed and came home with me and happily ever after, except occasional seizures (from the distemper). I threw a party for him and even made a "cake" out of canned dog food (gross). And the next year we had a party on the anniversary of his adoption day (which was an awesome party).

He walked and walked and walked with me, with me and my neighbor, with me and my husband. He was there when I was in labor the first time, walking the neighborhood at 10 p.m. when we were trying to figure out if it was time to go to the hostpital. And when we brought her home from the hospital, he sniffed her gently, but thoroughly, then gave her a lick on the head, and that was that.

Susie learned to crawl chasing him around. She pulled up on him, grabbing handfuls of golden fuzzy fur to balance herself. And somehow, in her first year, she figured out that he was different (blind) and that she could totally play tricks on him. He was so patient with my toddlers. So sweet. And then, when he was about 10, he started getting lost in the house. More and more. And he got cranky. And we knew that we couldn't move him to a two-story house with no fenced backyard and he was old and tired and we put him to sleep the day we moved out of the old house, when he was about 12. And many tears were shed and I still wonder if I did the wrong thing.

Our current "crew" of pets are all about the same age, but also have different stories.

Buffy, the cat, arrived the Christmas after Frida died. She was a replacement cat. I wanted a blonde tabby. That's what she is. Not a lot in the personality department, but she is very snuggly and she adores Susie and mostly sleeps with her. She's also astonishingly fat and frequently knocks down the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs when she's trying to go upstairs.

From New Year's Day
Biscuit, the dog, was Susie's sixth birthday present. She's a golden retriever mix, and she's very naughty. Still much puppy remains in her. She will run away at every opportunity, which has caused us numerous embarrassing moments (or hours) of trying to apprehend her. She also barks and lunges at strangers, which is sometimes great and sometimes embarrassing. She's awesome with children and sometimes tries to be a lap dog. I love her.

Gravy, the other dog, was The Boy's sixth birthday present, but we waited until we were in the new house before we picked him up.
From New Year's Day
He's older, about seven, and deaf. And small. Papillion and pomeranian mix. He's adorable but a bit clingy (probably because of the deafness) and he has some other issues too. Whose dog is he really, though? Mine. His day doesn't start until I am there. The kids have reported that he does not move from his sleeping spot the entire time I'm gone to work. And if I go upstairs he stands at the bottom of the stairs and makes this horrible wailing sound which I doubt he'd make if he could hear it, because, ouch! He totally crowds me in the bed and I love him anyway.

So those are the pets. I'm not counting the various kittens we've fostered because they don't count as pets. They were temps.


el brother said...

I miss Scooter :(

furrjen said...

Your new pets don't seem real to me, I must admit. The "old crew" is still fresh in my memory and I really appreciate the photos of them. Scooter was a rock, but mostly, I miss Quentin. Great, sweet dog.

Kaleigh said...

I miss Scooter and Quentin most of all, too. Hey bro, I have a great picture of you and Scooter. I shall scan it and send it to you.