I absolutely love animals.
Throughout my childhood we always had at least one pet. First it was Brandy the German Shepherd and Killer the parakeet. Sadly with my parents’ divorce Brandy had to go with my father, while Killer went with Mom and I.
Shortly before my sixth birthday I came home from visitation to a pleasant surprise. Mom pulled out one of the dining room chairs and curled up in a little ball wearing a fake pearl choker was a kitten. She was all black, minus her bright green eyes. Her name was Daisy, and she was our prima donna kitty – the leader, the alpha cat and also a lady who loved company, getting brushed with one of my many Barbie brushes, and keeping an eye on me.
After Daisy came Bo – the Labrador-Rottweiler mix. He was a sensitive protector who loved to give kisses and go on car rides. A couple guys from high school saw me walking him in town one day and were impressed that I had a “manly” dog, and his markings made him a beautiful boy.
Lily was our second kitty. We found her at a park, where she was quite thin and scared. We brought her home and brought her back to a healthy weight, but she never lost her fearful eyes. We called her our Lost Lily, and we had a bad scare when I was ten. Mom and I were moving houses following a divorce, and the movers spooked the cats (at this point it was Daisy, Bo and Lily.) We have no idea where Lily went and in between moving we scoured the neighborhood, calling for her and hoping she wasn’t gone. After Mom dropped me off at the new house, she went back to our old one to search for Lily. Thankfully she was in the middle of the old living room. My mom scooped her up and brought her right home.
After Daisy passed away, Lily came out of her skittish shell and became the leader cat – affectionate, confident and talkative. For a long time she didn’t seem to like me, but in the last few months of her life she and I had a great bond.
Holly kitty was the bruiser cat. I discovered her at the vet during an appointment for Bo, when I was pacing the lobby and saw a cat in a “free to a good home” cage. Our first meeting included her biting my nose, and I was immediately in love. Holly was also our eater – while the other three cats were lean, Holly took on the shape of a pumpkin. She loved her food, and she loved people food. I watched that cat steal hot dogs and Chicken McNuggets straight off the plate, and if she wanted to be affectionate, it was game over. You better put on a robe or a thick blanket, carry her out to the couch and get ready for her to completely wrap her body around you – front claws, back claws, even a tail around the waist.
Violet was our last cat. If Holly was the bruiser, Violet was frankly a pain in the ass. She was aggressive, but she was also the baby who needed a lot of attention and loving. Violet popped out of the corn field when Mom and I were on a bike ride, and she enjoyed a life of cuddling up to me in bed. I read a long time ago that cats view humans as though we were giant cats, and I’m convinced Violet must have thought I was some big dumb endearing kitten.
My childhood was shared with four cats and Bo. When I was in college Daisy and Lily passed away, which was hard and sad. Then the summer I was 20 my folks adopted Max, a smiling mutt who could have been a dachshund or a King Charles spaniel.
Max was a baby. He loved following Bo around the house, chasing leaves in windstorms and trips to the vet’s office. Since I didn’t have a summer job, my job was to take care of the house and train Max before going back to college. Sadly Max passed away before his time.
The last of the babies came to us in May 2015. Bo had passed away in February of that year after a happy 16 years with us, and there was a sadness in the house. Max was depressed, and we’d been talking about bringing home another dog. I didn’t really believe that would happen… until I got a picture message from Mom of a little dog at the county animal shelter. He looked like a mix between a pug and a beagle, and he was a happy camper in spite of where he was at. I wasn’t ready for what would come next, but I wasn’t surprised either. Mom called me on the way home to let me know the dog she was calling Dog was trying to stand in her lap and chest.
I took Max outside right before Mom and Dog got home so the boys could meet each other through the fence. Max came alive when he met his buddy, which incidentally is how Dog got his name – Buddy.
Buddy is now the only pet my folks have left, and he does pretty well with it. He’s content as an only child, but does enjoy his snuggle and snack time with my mom. I went home this past weekend and enjoyed cuddles with him before bed. He’s now a sausage with legs and wide brown eyes that look either concerned or happy. All and all, he’s a good boy.
I got to thinking about all the pets I grew up with and now Marina, my cat-roommate-surrogate-child. Marina is definitely an only kitty, and I wouldn’t bring another pet home until she’s passed away. But, the desire to have all of the animals around me is always present.
Then the other morning, when I took my bird feeders back outside, I saw the woodland creatures out to visit/take birdseed. My cardinals were waiting in the woods chirping for me to come out and bring them breakfast. My two squirrels were chasing each other around. The mallard ducks had come out of the pond behind my apartment and were waddling up to my patio.
The rabbits were out and about, looking for some fresh grass to eat. Of all the creatures, the rabbits are my favorite. Sam and I can watch them in fascination, how they can be sitting entirely still minus their little noses twitching a million miles a minute. Their brown ears always poke out behind tall clumps of grass, and the way they stand up on their hind legs to peer into my flower pots is so endearing, innocent even.
Now we have a new friend: my doe. My apartment complex backs up to woods, and the deer around the complex are used to humans, since there’s a bike trail that gets plenty of foot traffic. Part of why I started bringing my feeders in at night was to prevent the deer from devouring all the bird seed, since seed isn’t always so cheap. She figured me out pretty quickly, and now as soon as I fill up the feeders in the morning, my girl is right there getting her breakfast.
I’ve named her Ayelet, which is an Israeli name meaning – wait for it – “deer.” Yep, I have a deer named Deer. On the surface it sounds cultured, unique and beautiful, but if you want to get down to it and know the actual meaning, it’s a goofball attempt at humor. But I’m digressing.
This particular morning the birds were chirping, which is very normal for them. My ducks and my squirrels were out, and I figured the bunnies were somewhere. I brought in the empty bird feeders and washed them out. After cleaning and drying them I put some fresh seed in and hung the feeders up on my shepherd’s hooks.
Marina likes to watch the birds and wildlife, so she quickly laid down in her spot to watch the scene unfolding. I was in the kitchen and I heard Marina chirp-meowing, which is something she does when she sees something and wants to talk to it. I grabbed my phone in case it was something cute and came around the table to see what was going on.
Lo and behold, I had both Ayelet and my big bunny at the bird feeder. It was interspecies collaboration to get some seed, and around them were birds and one of my squirrels.
I had a real-life version of Bambi and Thumper at my back door.
Sam tells me all the time I’m like Snow White with all my animal friends, but right then it was undeniable. I took a few videos to send to both my boyfriend and my mom, and I felt so giddy inside.
It may not be a caboodle of cats and dogs, but having my own little sanctuary out back does good for the soul during the great and challenging times. I couldn’t help but smile to myself like a cheeseball. Truth be told, I’m still cheeseball smiling while thinking about it.
Without trying, I wound up making my Disney Princess animal friend dreams come true.
I hope you all enjoyed a lighthearted post today/tonight. May your week ahead be good to you.
Yours in writing and running,