Day Six – June 23, 2018 – Cats and Dogs

Some folks are dog people, some are cat people. There are those, too, who have no interest in pets whatsoever. In any case, there might a story that explains it.

Write a cat or dog story. What has been your experience in living with a cat or dog? Is there a specific memory that comes to mind? Write about it. Was it funny, sad, scary, irritating?

If you don’t care for dogs or cats as a result of a particular experience, write out what happened. Did this influence your choice in having future pets?

What have you learned from dogs and cats? What is most intriguing? Most frustrating? What do you love most? What kind of relationship have you formed with a cat or dog in your lifetime?

photo credit: eliduke Portland: Luna & Simba at The Jerkstore via photopin (license)

17 thoughts on “Day Six – June 23, 2018 – Cats and Dogs

  1. Suzie Shaeffer

    A (Partial) Cat and Dog Biography

    Over 70 years I’ve lived with a total of eight cats and one dog. There were many others that I had relationships with that weren’t part of my household. Like humans, they all had unique personalities I wouldn’t have willingly missed knowing any of them, even the dogs and cats that belonged to others.

    One winter evening in upstate New York when I was preschool age, I was lying on the living room couch when my father came home from work and walked over to me, still wearing his overcoat, with the cold radiating off it. He said, “Suzie, reach into my pocket.” I did and touched something warm and furry. Warm and furry turned out to be pure black little kitten. Blackie was a very curious, active and smart cat, and there are loads of crazy stories about him. He hid objects like nuts and potatoes, he was fascinated by me taking a bath and fell in once, he saved our brand new television and us from an electric fire, he climbed up and sat on the top of my head the first (and only) time we took him out in the snow; he let me dress him up in doll clothes and roll him around in a doll stroller, only complaining if I ran over his very long tail; and he waged a battle of wits with my parents each night as he tried to sneak into my bedroom. But my daughter says her favorite story is how Blackie liked to play hide and seek with me. He was excellent at finding me, no matter how carefully I chose a hiding spot. Then he would go hide. But while he chose new and interesting locations, I always knew where he was. You see, he always forgot to also hide his beautiful long tail! He was a perfect companion for a little girl. We were all sad to leave him behind when we moved to Japan, but he was adopted by a couple who owned a farm. While they had barn cats, they wanted an indoor cat just like him.

    After Japan we moved to the Philippines, where a brindle boxer soon joined us. Named Luzon Princess, we originally got her for protection (and she was fiercely protective of us), but she also became a part of our family. Being an only child, I considered this dog to be my sister, complete with sibling rivalry and tussles over getting the best seat in the car. After two years it was time to move again, back to the states, but Princess was to return with us. Actually, my mother and I went by freighter (the trip took a month); my father went by plane; and Princess sailed to San Francisco on a luxury liner. We had her with us for another three years (in New York, Florida and Maryland) before she died of cancer. Too short a time. I can’t eat an ice cream cone without remembering her. That’s because whenever we went out to get a treat at an ice cream stand, Princess went with us and sat and watched, patiently drooling, while we ate. She knew that we would (each of us) always give her the last bite. Even today, I use my tongue to push ice cream down to the bottom of the cone, so that Princess gets her fair share, even if only in memory.

    In California I hinted and begged for another kitten and finally got Kitty as a Christmas present, complete with a red bow around her neck. This was not a cuddly lap cat, but a fierce huntress who could stalk and catch a hummingbird on the wing. We managed to get that bird away from her, but knew that she ate her share of mice, birds and lizards, since she often would be gone hunting for days at a time. One nesting season a pair of mockingbirds kept her penned in under a patio chair, attacking her if she tried to escape. They pecked most of the fur off of her forehead! Once she was gone hunting much longer that usual and, imagining the worst, Mother put an ad in the paper about our missing cat. The only call we got was from a family with a litter of kittens. We ended up adopting one and named him Pepe. A week or so later, we heard something at the back door. Our huntress had returned, but very skinny and very hungry. All we could figure is that she’d gotten herself locked in someone’s garage when they went on vacation. Kitty wasn’t happy about the new kitten, especially when he tried to nurse – she swatted him halfway across the room. Pepe was a homebody, the cuddly one of the pair. Not too bright, though, and he never did seem to understand that Kitty had it in for him. She would even catch poisonous blue-bellied lizards and bring them to him as treats. Luckily, he didn’t get sick, but they did make him high, kind of like super catnip. When we moved to Florida in 1966, the cats moved to our next door neighbor’s house.

    After college and marriage, with me working and my husband just returned from active duty in the Navy, we decided to get two cats – we even had names picked out for them in advance: Fahfred and The Gray Mouser, after a pair of human characters in a series of sword and sorcery books. We found and adopted a marmalade kitten (who matched his namesake Fahfred, both being red barbarians). But then a slender black kitten with white markings chose us before we could find a gray kitten; we named him Fearless, because he was. Like the characters in the books, the two felines were fast friends, even though quite different from each other. Fearless was the leader and Fahfred his loyal companion. Fond of heights, Fearless could levitate from motionless on the floor to a box on top of a bookcase, with only three inches of clearance between the box and the ceiling. The kitchen in our apartment had a drop ceiling, readily accessible to Fearless, so we blocked his access with boxes; when that didn’t work, we hot-glued the panels to the braces. Fearless recruited the big red barbarian, who easily forced one of the panels out of the way. The drop ceiling became one of their favorite hangouts. Entering the kitchen was always an adventure since you never knew when a ceiling panel and cat might land on your head!

    Sadly, Fahfred died young. Into our lives came another cat, complete with the name Damion, which we expanded, to match a comic book character, to “Damion Hellstrom, Son of Satan.” The comic character was actually a good guy, and so was our new cat, but he was also a bit of scoundrel at times. When our daughter was born, we wondered how Fearless and Damion would react. Fearless mostly absented himself from the noise, especially if other children came to visit. But Damion seemed to figure that if the baby was the center of attention, then he wanted to be with the baby. He was a gentle but constant companion, never retaliating if she pulled on an ear or tail. I have a picture of the two of them curled around each other, cat and child, when our daughter was about two years old.

    The next kitten in our household came after Fearless died. This one showed up in our backyard one cold day near Thanksgiving. But Cutsie was really our daughter’s cat, so I’ll end this dog and cat biography here, after one last note, an illustration of three different feline approaches to life.

    Cats do get in trouble, and they have to be scolded when they do, right? Here’s how three of our cats would respond to scoldings. Fearless, a very talkative cat, would immediately talk back and seemed to be citing us chapter and verse of case law about other cats who had done the same thing and gotten away with it – a true lawyer cat. Fahfred, though, would just look at you with his big eyes and you could tell he was wondering, ”Right? Wrong? What do you mean?” – he was our barbarian, an original innocent. Damion’s reaction was quite different, “Oh, that’s wrong? What else is wrong? I want to try that!” – as I said, a bit of a scoundrel cat.

  2. Judi Graham

    Well, there was a dog. He was new to the house. He was a Chow and his name was Bear.
    There were two Siamese cats. They were born in the house and never had to deal with a dog before. Their names were Able and Charlie.

    Bear would chase the cats and the cats would hide or get up somewhere high where the dog couldn’t get them.
    The dog thought because he was a big, bad Chow he was superior.

    One day Bear trapped Able in a corner and she couldn’t get out. It didn’t look good, but before I could come to Able’s aid, Charlie solved the problem. He came up behind Bear and scratched him on the testicles. This got Bear’s attention. Be bled and cried and licked his testicles, as dogs often do.

    From this point on, the dog did not chase the cats and they peacefully coexisted.

    The End.

  3. Regina Russell

    I loved my little sandy girl, she was some sort of terrier. I inherited her. She was my grandmother’s dog, but when I went to go live with mom and gramma, she became mine as well. I started taking her for walks, letting her sleep at the foot of the bed and gave her treats. She would watch Jeopardy with me and her little internal clock knew 7:27 was coming up-that’s when Jeopardy ended. She would start baking orders at me, “take me for my walkie-walk!” we’d run to the kitchen, get her leash and off we’d go.

    I lost her the day after Christmas. she had some lump in her leg. she was thirteen years old and wasn’t going to make it. I took her to the vet and put her sleep. Saddest day of my life. Leaving with only a leash left a hole in my heart. I am renting a room right now, but when I get my own place or move into another situation, definitely getting another dog. I’ve heard west highland white terriers are cute.

  4. Ericka Parra

    The Old Blue (Boxer Lab Mix)

    Blue was never like this. When he was younger, he was very ferocious and aggressive. I remember the first time I met him; he was a little playful baby. He is a mixture of Boxer and Labrador. At that moment, John and I started dating. They lived in their apartment. I was the visitor: he seemed loyal and loving. The problem started when John and I moved together. Blue seemed not like me anymore. Each time I came from work, he used to jump on me and barked a lot to the point I started being afraid of Blue. One day, I was tired and I finally throw at him a book I had in my hand. He immediately went to pick it up. He stared at me. Maybe thinking: “follow me, come on.” I started crying, and he came to me, eagerly stood up in front of me, and started moving his tail. John was looking at that and said: “See, he likes you. He loves you.”

    At that moment, I understood that all that noisy barking, and jumping on me meant that he was inviting me to play. I used to throw him the ball to fetch when he was a baby. I imagine he remembered that. Now, he is very playful and energetic. He loves games and I really have a lot of fun playing with him. I love the fact that when I come home, I ask him: “Where is John?” Blue leads me to John’s office. We are friends even though he keeps digging halls in my garden.

  5. Sarah Fine

    When I was 12 years old, my best friend shared her dog Lucky with me. I’m not sure what that ‘sharing’ meant except a strange sense of responsibility for this mostly black mutt whenever we three were together. There were no dogs allowed in our house (because of my allergies so my mother said). Sharing Linda’s dog was the best I could do. I was the one who felt lucky.

    Years later, I was 25 and living a hippie lifestyle on a farm with friends and their dogs. When Molly, daughter of Hogan, had a litter, I chose a mostly golden haired mix Labrador and Shepherd puppy to be my dog.

    I named him Saugeewawin which I believed was the Cree word for ‘love’. I just looked it up in an on line Cree dictionary and I must have had the spelling wrong. My dog’s name didn’t exist but there was a ‘Sakihiwewin’ that is Cree for ‘love for everyone.’ He was definitely friendly if not particularly clever.

    Saugie had a great life on the farm. He lived with his mother Molly, grandmother Hogan and uncle Spike, all of whom belonged to the two brothers who found the farm; as well as a somewhat annoying but well loved dog who arrived at our ‘commune’ with his musician friend; and a yappy but cute little dog who was owned by the somewhat annoying girlfriend of one of the brothers.

    We also had two cats and their numerous kittens as well as chickens (but that’s another story). We six rented this farm for $100 per month. Nowadays, it would probably be an AirBnB and rent for $300 a day.

    The dogs had the run of the farm. Their world was off leash and they might disappear on adventures day or night. They also loved their humans. I would be weeding in the garden and the gang of four would be sprawled on the grass nearby dozing in the sun. When I finished and said the magic word “walk” they would joyfully jump up to accompany me on one of the paths leading from the garden into the surrounding fields.

    Those were the true ‘dog days of summer’ – definitely hot and mostly lethargic.

    1. Sarah Fine

      I just want to add that I have been revisiting the days of our ‘challenge’ and would encourage others to do so if they haven’t already. I am finding stories I had not read and comments that I answered. I am, as always impressed by both!

  6. Lois Patton

    No Pet Zone

    “Animals belong on a farm,” my dad said, hugging me to soften the effect of his answer when I asked for a dog. So my exposure to animals of any kind was limited to trips to the Brookfield Zoo in my home town of Chicago, or the once-a-year trip to my mother’s cousin, who lived on a farm in Indiana. Other than the fun of sitting high atop a huge tractor, Rowdy, the large Collie, provided the main attraction. Yellowed photos from that fall I turned five remind me of how big a dog he was and how tentatively I reached to pet his long white coat.
    About the time I was in first grade, my mother agreed I could have a turtle. She provided a glass bowl deep enough so Rowdy, the turtle, could not climb out. I diligently fed grainy turtle food to my substitute dog and added the necessary water. One day I came home from school, smelled something unpleasant, and discovered my turtle had died. “I think you forgot to add water to its bowl,” Mom said as she attempted to dry the tears streaming down my checks. She didn’t sound too disappointed— except about my forgetfulness. For a very long time I worried I would not get into heaven because I had killed my turtle. I never remember telling that to anyone, but that event solidified my parents’ policy of a no pet zone for our house. If I couldn’t take care of a turtle, a hamster or anything larger was out of the question.
    Years later, married with two children, my husband and I never considered the idea of having a pet of any kind. Ralph knew firsthand all that is involved with pet ownership from his own childhood and I didn’t miss what I’d never had. Our daughter, Laurie, begged for a dog, but Steve never seemed to care and neither Ralph nor I had any desire to be left with the responsibility. We were solidly a no-pet family.
    As soon as Laurie was living on her own, she purchased a kitten—not just any kitten, a Himalayan Blue, with long white hair and blue eyes.

    Her dad shook his head in wonderment when he heard the news. “I’ve never heard of anyone paying money for a cat.”
    “I wanted one so special that if I couldn’t keep it, I could be sure someone would want to take it and love it,” she answered. And sure enough, she had to give up her pet when a roommate could not tolerate cat hair. A year later she married, and along with a husband, acquired Alfie, a Wheaton Terrier. In all the years since, she has shared her home with a dog or cat—or two.
    Steve, however, followed in his parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps and assured his two children they would grow up just fine without having a dog. And they did.
    Three summers ago, when his kids had moved on to college and a career, I received a text photo with the caption “our new family member.” As I stared at the adorable puppy, I had to reach out and steady myself on the nearby kitchen counter. After I caught my breath, I phoned him immediately. “You’re kidding, right?” I asked. “This isn’t really your puppy.”
    “Yeah, Mom. Patti has been thinking about having a dog, now the kids are gone. She did a lot of research, and together we selected this one from the breeder. He’s a Teddy Bear, a mix of Shih Tzu and Bichon. We named him Levi. And you’ll like this part: He doesn’t shed and seldom barks.”
    As almost everyone knows, a puppy can steal your heart. In no time I have adjusted to having a granddog—and even take him for walks, with the necessary baggies, of course. I love the enthusiastic wag of his fluffy tail and his excited dance when he greets me. When I see our son’s obvious affection for Levi and watch the two of them play together, I wonder about the wisdom of my family’s no pet policy.

    1. Sarah Fine

      Great story. I missed having a dog when I was growing up. I have been quite allergic to cats since a child. And my bird died around the same time as Buddy Holly. I believed my older brother was responsible, buried the bird in a cemetery and adapted the song written for Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper from ‘three stars’ to ‘one star’. The ‘no pet policy’ is really something to be pondered.

  7. nancy nelson

    WHEN ERNIE CAME TO LIVE

    One day the phone rang. I answered as a man said, ” Is this Nancy Nelson? Your sister said you would be willing to take care of my dog, Ernie, while my family and I travel.”

    “Who is this,” I asked. “This must be some sort of a joke.” I said as I hung up. My husband, Jay, was a big practical joker, and i was sure he put someone up to this call. I had already been the receiver of many jokes, and I was not planning on “getting caught” again.

    A few days later a photo of a big black, Newfoundland dog and a letter from John describing the situation arrived. It was true! My sister, Bette, had suggested that I may be interested in housing his dog for two years. John and his family would be traveling the world to find the perfect place for his boss to live based on specific criteria. He was required to live in a place for three weeks to check it out. I called Bette, who at the time was a flight attendant for United Airlines. John was a frequent traveler on her flights and had shared his dilemma with her. She knew our family loved dogs and thought this might be the solution to his plight. He did not want to put Ernie in a kennel for two years. Bette had been traveling so had not contacted me about this proposal.

    I phoned John telling him we were interested. We lived in the woods in rural Wisconsin and already had a dog, a black lab named Noko. Two weeks later John and Ernie arrived to check us out. We were acceptable so Ernie moved in for two years. Much happened during his stay. As I write this, the stories bring a big smile to my lips as I recall many incidents. Ernie was a big loving dog who seemed to enjoy our company.

    The first night I asked Jay, “Where should Ernic sleep?”

    Looking at his huge size, Jay responded, “Anywhere he wants to.” And he did.

    We were awakened early the next morning by a loud, deep bark “Woof, woof” as a huge head appeared at the foot of our bed. I screamed and grabbed Jay as I was startled, momentarily forgetting about Ernie.

    We grew to love this wonderful dog. Our children, Kietra (7) and Erik (5) enjoyed laying on him while watching TV. He liked to romp with Noko which was not good inside the house. We thought we’d lost him one winter night after letting him out. He did not come back to the door. Jay yelled outside for him and we saw a huge pile of snow stand up on the deck. Ernie loved snow and wanted to be outside in it whenever possible. I think he was breed to be a northern dog and loved the cold. He seem to enjoy chasing snowballs the kids would throw.

    During the first summer, Ernie’s tongue hung out and he panted a lot. He always appeared to be hot, especially wearing that thick black coat. We had a wading pool that the kids loved playing in on hot days.

    One day Kietra came up to me frustrated, “Mom, we can’t get Ernie out of our pool and there is no room for us!”

    I checked and indeed it was true. He looked so contented that I hated to move him. But I too was unable to get him out. I had Jay bring home another pool so Ernie could have his own. He was in it all of the time. He also liked the Slip and Slide we had for the kids.

    A friend came to visit us one evening, and as he rang the doorbell, Ernie came up behind him. It was very dark. He thought he was being attacked by a bear, sreamed and opened the door before we could get there. It took awhile to calm him down.

    Ernie went where ever I went because once he was in the car there was no moving him. I got really good at distracting him so he would not get in the car when Erik was opening the door.

    My most harrowing experience was the day I took Ernie to the vet. His check-up was over, and I was standing at the counter paying the bill. I was unaware of anything going on in the waiting area and focused on my checkbook. His leash was loosely hanging around my arm when all of a sudden I was jerked. I was being pulled as I turned around to see a lady screaming, standing on a chair holding up a little dog with her hands high up in the air. Ernie was lunging toward them. It took three of us to restrain him. The little dog was in heat and Ernie was interested. That was the last time I took him to the vet!!!

    I could continue with more stories. The two years went too quickly. We were not ready for John and his family to retrieve him. We were very sad when we said our goodbyes as Ernie left for California. We never forgot that wonderful experience and the delightful dog.

    Postscript: John found three places that matched his boss’s criteria: Naples, Fl, Lake Tahoe, NV, and Santa Barbara, CA. John and his family, along with his boss, all moved to Santa Barbara.

  8. Judy Watkins

    The Family Cat
    Okay cat, let’s talk about the possibility of you coming to live at our house. It is winter and you can’t go on living behind the cafeteria at Tek. The weather is getting too cold and the company’s management would like to get rid of the blankets and the dishes employees have been bringing to make you comfortable.

    You are a pretty cat with your tortoise shell coloring and we should be able to have a good life together. We will give you a warm home, plenty of food and love and in exchange we would expect some love and companionship from you. Does that sound like an acceptable arrangement?

    Cat, are there some things you neglected to tell me? I’ve noticed behavior that isn’t at all what I expected from you. When we have visitors you hide under our bed and don’t come out until they are gone. If they stay for a week you stay hid that long. I know in the night you sneak out to the garage to use the litter box, but you would starve if your dad didn’t bring your food and water into the bedroom for you.

    What about the love you promised? You never allow anybody to pet or to hold you. I have seen you jump into your dad’s lap a few times and you are content there as long as he doesn’t try to touch you. You seem to be happiest lying on the arm of Dad’s chair or on the table next to his chair. You want to be close, to be part of the family but not too close.

    When your dad works in the yard you follow his every footstep. The neighbors across the street laugh about how you shadow his every move. They should watch you in the house when you follow him from room to room. Sometimes you look as though you are wondering if he will ever sit still so that you can have your nap.

    I’m the one who offered you a home and how do you repay me? I know you love me too but you don’t want me to know it. In the night when I wake up I often find you lying on my stomach sleeping soundly. You never come near me when I am awake but I am your sleeping companion of choice. When you hear my car coming into the garage I can always count on your head to be poking out the cat door to welcome me home. You know I live here too but you have chosen to be your dad’s cat.

    It has been more than twelve years since you came to live here. I don’t expect that you are going to change your ways now. You are getting old, although we don’t know how old. The vet thought you might have been five or six when you were adopted and if that were true you would be at least eighteen now.

    I think we have loved you because you are so unpredictable and have a personality all your own. We often wish you would go with us in the car so we wouldn’t have to pay a babysitter every time we go someplace. We wish you didn’t wake up at 4 A.M. every day wanting your breakfast and to go outdoors. The more we try to ignore you the louder you purr as you sit right next to our ears. If we continue to pretend we don’t hear you, then you meow and cry. What a pain in the neck you are!

    Cat, for better or worse we are a family. You are just like having another child. You don’t show any indication of running away so you must be happy with the arrangement too. You have been a good friend, a good companion.

  9. Cheryl Floyd

    The Tale of Two Kitties
    FREE KITTENS. “No, Cheryl, don’t do it. We already have a cat. Spotty is enough.” I pedaled on trying to forget the sign.

    Rhianon had been begging for her own cat, but I really felt that one was enough. Granted, Spotty belonged to Rachel; after all she had rescued the cat from underneath the credit union building. As I completed my transaction she begged, “Mommy, please can I have one of the kittens?”

    Before I could respond with my typical, “No honey, you know Mommy’s allergic to cats.”
    The teller joined our conversation, “Oh did you see the kittens near the stairs? Aren’t they cute?”

    Rachel nodded her head up and down in her typical timid response and then pulled on my sleeve, “You see mommy the lady likes them too.”

    The teller continued with what I thought would close the conversation. “Their mother is feral, the kittens are wild. No one can catch them.”

    “I can catch them, cats love me,” my typically shy child brags.

    My teller friend, lost favor with me when she replied, “Well honey, if you can catch one you can keep it.”
    Rachel figured that permission enough since it came from an adult. She ran out of the bank and down the stairs. Within a brief time, as I gathered my paperwork, she returned carrying a black and white bundle.

    All the tellers gasped in unison, and our permission giver called out, “Look she did it, she caught one.” And then she placed her order, “Can you catch one for me?”

    Rachel the Cat Catcher, beaming with confidence and pride, ran down stairs and caught another kitten for the teller who scrounged around the back office for a couple of boxes to secure the cats for trips to their new homes. Spotty, named for the black spot on her face, lived out doors, to the great disappointment of our neighbor who loved attracting birds to her back garden.

    Shortly after, we bought a home in a new neighborhood and moved Spotty with us. We tried to keep her inside the screened-in lanai area, but she was too wild and accustomed to the great outdoors where she could catch mice and leave them on our doorstep as gifts.

    Now, my younger daughter, Rhianon, wanted her own kitten to love and the free kitten sign haunted me as I pedaled my way home. I couldn’t ignore it. After putting away my bike, I told her there was something I wanted her to see. We drove around the neighborhood and I said she needed to look for a sign on the side of the road.

    Soon she yelled out, “Free Kittens! Please Mama, can we stop?” We did, and a precious little orange kitten who received the name Pumpkin for her coloring, came home with us. The owner assured me this would be a short-haired cat and should create less of an allergic reaction. WRONG, on both parts. She grew into the fluffiest, furriest cat ever. But I did develop a resistance or built up a tolerance for him, after some time I did not continue with allergic symptoms, although I did around other cats. Pumpkin lived indoors and became a big part of our family as he wove his way around all of our hearts.

    And that’s how this allergic-to-cats mama caved in and became cat Mommy to not one, but two kitties.

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