Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Pets

Sophia at RevGalBlogPals tells us: "My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love.

So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known. "

1. DINAH: The first pet I remember really well wasn't mine, but my grandfather's. Dinah was a border collie, as befitted a dairy farmer, although I'm not sure her life on the farm actually coincided with the time when cows lived there. When I met other border collies in the Midwest, later on, I was surprised that they didn't look like Dinah, who looked like Sheba (our neighbor's dog) and Flurry (my honorary uncle's dog) and other border collies in our part of Maine. Recently someone told me that serious border collie people in England occasionally breed in other types of dog to their border collie strains to keep them intelligent, which makes sense. Dinah always came barking out to greet anyone who came to the farm. She liked to sit in Grampie's lap and he liked to have her there, and in her younger days I would take her across to the pasture and throw things for her to catch (sticks and the rubber parts from the old milking machine). I suppose Dinah is the reason I prefer shaggy dogs to smooth dogs.

2. BUNTER. Bunter was the second cat of our marriage. The first one, Finn, had been hit by a motorcycle only a few days after we brought SonShineIn home from the hospital. Bunter, although named for Lord Peter Wimsey's "man," was a female cat, born in a corncrib in rural Minnesota. She was the first cat for each of our children, and lived to be 17. Here's a picture of Bunter, alert and on the job while I and Cordeliaknits are fast asleep.

3. PYEWACKET. Pyewacket was a Siamese gentleman, who was already several years old when we got him as a birthday present for Cordeliaknits, who was temporarily catless. She wanted a Siamese or some other interesting cat, and we made the rounds of the adoption places until we came to one being run by an organization called Last Hope. The cats and dogs were in shopping carts in one of those big pet-supply stores, and we could hear Pyewacket complaining loudly as soon as we walked in. This was the one. Pyewacket was obviously well-socialized by his former owner (I always imagined that that person had not given him up voluntarily, but perhaps had died or gone into housing that didn't allow cats). As soon as he got used to us and our house, he was the most loving cat imaginable. He liked to get under the covers if it was the least bit chilly, and often I would be awakened by a paw gently patting my shoulder so I'd lift up the blankets for him. The girls insisted that he always knew if anyone was feeling bad physically or emotionally and would come to give comfort. After four happy years, he was found to have inoperable cancer and we had to let him go. Here's the last photo we took of him, dignified to the end.

4. WINIFRED. Winifred is Sisterfilms' cat, and is already 14 years old. We got her from Pet Haven (another no-kill organization similar to Last Hope) as a one-year-old whose kitten was already bigger than she. She has never grown bigger than about an eight-month-old kitten but has remained an exceptionally healthy and active cat. For many years she was an indoor-outdoor cat who would occasionally bring us unwelcome presents such as mice, starlings, and decapitated rabbits. We forgave her because of her bravery in dispatching a mouse that showed up one winter morning in Sisterfilms' boot. When Sisterfilms moved to a second-floor apartment, Winifred became an indoor cat and has remained so, now living with Sisterfilms, SonShineIn and The Collector in a big old house (with occasional mice to catch). Since Pyewacket's death she has become more and more affectionate. She even has a blog of her own, although she is sadly remiss in updating it. She's a crafty cat too, as you can see from this photo.

5. RUSTY. Rusty, whom you have met before, is our first dog and will probably be our last. I have had people tell me that they had English Springer Spaniels live to be 19 and still be frisky. Rusty is three. I'm not sure how frisky we will be 16 years from now! We came in from our evening walk a little while ago and he immediately grabbed a plastic soda bottle and raced from one end of the house to the other with it several times. (Although there's a nickel deposit on each bottle, we feel this is a cheap and nearly indestructible toy for him). He also likes tennis balls and his stick, which he found for himself in the woodpile. Occasionally he eats Dove soap. Generally this has no ill effects on his digestion. That's enough about Rusty, but I'll try to find a photo that hasn't appeared yet.


DogBlogger said...

What a great list! The Alpha was thrilled to hear you had a Pyewacket, as Pyewacket was one of his favorite stories as a kid.

Singing Owl said...

Love the names and pictures. Rusty is a beaut. We had a golden lab/retreiver mix who loved those plastic soda bottles too. Sadly, we had problems with the neighbors and Golda had to go to live with the Presbyterian pastor. (Who told me, grinning, "Well, at least she is still a Christian dog!

RevSis said...

Oh, we had a "Pyewacket" when I was growing up -- a smart and wonderful tabby. And Thomasina (who turned out to be a Thomas) and Cinnamon and Willy Mays and...thanks for sharing your stories and reminding me of mine.

Sophia said...

Wonderful pictures and stories...too bad we didn't hear about all those others!

Processing Counselor said...

Wonderful pets and pics. Thanks and happy V'day!

Sisterfilms said...

I remember that day we had to say goodbye to Pye so clearly. In the picture you posted you can see Winifred's arm...she was snuggling up to him, saying her own goodbye's. I'm happy to say that she has inherited some of Pye's intuition, though it seems more connected to emotional pain, whereas Pyewacket knew all about physical pain.