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Thread: In Honor of Punzie: Favorite Pet Stories

  1. #1

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    In Honor of Punzie: Favorite Pet Stories

    Since Rgal and her family lost their pet rat Punzie, I started thinking of all the pets my sister and I grew up with. One of the best things about our parents was their love of animals and willingness to put up with all the creatures my sister and I dragged home. Anyway, I've found that people have great pet stories and are often at their best when they talk about them. This might belong on the "Brain Teasers from Your Field Thread," but I know that author Amy Hempel (short story collections <em>Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Annimal Kingdom</em>; novel <em>Tumblehome</em>) would not write in her first writing class unless she could write about animals. One of my favorite dog stories is Hempel's "Nashville Gone to Ashes" from <em>Reasons to Live</em>. So this thread is for anyone to share their stories about their pets.

    Here's my start-off story, in honor of Punzie (sorry, it turned out longer than I'd intended):
    We started off with rabbits by falling in love with one at the Arizona State Fair. She was a black and white saddleback and we named her Sally. I must have been about 8 and my sister about 4. Since we had no plans of buying a rabbit, we had nothing ready for Sally when we got home. Our dad set about building a temporary cage, and my sister and I were to watch Sally in her carrier in the house. Of course we wanted to hold and pet Sally, so against our father's orders we took her out of the carrier. If you've ever been an 8-year-old who has never held a rabbit, especially a scared one, you know how fast they can squirm out of your hands. Next thing we knew, Sally was off and running, darting in a state of panic around the house while my sister and I made things ever so much calmer by chasing her and screaming. Our parents of course heard the screaming and we all ran in just after Sally had made it to the back bedroom. The next screaming I heard I will never forget. The back bedroom had a floor length mirror and what we heard before we got in there was BAM! EEEEEEE! BAM! EEEEEEEE! over and over. What we saw in the bedroom was Sally jumping head first at full force into the base of the mirror. Her reflection must have seemed like another rabbit and the mirror an entrance to another room. That's what the BAM! sound was, and watching Sally use all her little might to try to get into that "other" room felt as awful as the sound. The EEEEEEE! was Sally screaming. Who knew rabbits screamed? There would be one long high pitched, ear-breaking sound--it seemed to last for minutes but it only could have been seconds--then Sally would take a breath, jump BAM! into the mirror, and then out would come another EEEEEE! Again my sister and I made things ever so much better by screaming, "Dad, help her! Make her stop!" Our dad moved in slowly toward Sally and picked her up by the scruff of her neck. I will always have the image of my father holding Sally in what seemed like a cruel way, Sally and my dad face to face, while Sally continued screaming EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Slowly our dad moved Sally to his arms and held her on her back, cradling her like a baby. He stroked her chest and belly and gradually Sally's screams lessened until she stopped. It was one of the many occasions I remember when our dad seemed like he could fix anything.

    Our dad built a hutch for Sally and my sister and I were supposed to be on dooty scooper duty, but Dad filled in for us more times than he should have. The next year at the fair, we got another rabbit, a tan saddleback and named her Goldie. The people at the fair assured us that both Sally and Goldie were females, but just to be safe, Dad built a separate hutch. Around that time, a neighbor had an old rabbit that he could no longer care for, so we took her in one large white Mrs. Bunny. We had all three rabbits checked by the local pet food supplier and he assured us that all three rabbits were female, so we loosened up on the restrictions (you can see where this is going:lol: ). Our dad lined the fence with chicken wire and we would let Sally, Goldie, and Mrs. Bunny run around the back yard while my sister and my two cousins chased them. How we must have tortured those poor things!

    We also had dogs at the time named Cookie and Lady (Lady was one of Cookie's puppies). Cookie and Lady's roles in all this were (a) to be jealous of the bunnies, and (b) to round them up when it was time to get them back in the cages. Cookie and Lady were thoroughbred mutts and how they decided to take on the job of rounding up the rabbits we'll never know. But after a couple of times of our entire family running around like fools for an hour trying to get the rabbits, apparently Cookie and Lady became embarrassed for us and took over. One day while my family and I were running around in vain, Cookie and Lady just took off and faster than rabbits can breed, the dogs had Sally, Goldie, and Mrs. Bunny herded into a corner. Cookie and Lady cut and ran in tandem as if they had been born to do it, and they never barked or growled once. But they did seem awfully proud of themselves for doing what the stupid humans obviously couldn't.

    That summer we went on vacation for two weeks and as usual my sister and I called our cousins to come over as soon as we got home, excited to show them all our vacation junk. But my sister and I were upstaged when our cousins, Kim and Brett came in holding a white baby bunny. "Where did you get that?!" I demanded to know (my damn cousins were upstaging me with my Disneykins!). "We found it in the street," Kim said, and of course we didn't believe her. We all went out in the street, which was empty as usual, and I proceeded to call my cousins liars. Then my sister cried out, "Look! There's a baby bunny in the street!" We spun around and saw a tiny bunny that was the spit and image of our rabbit Goldie. Before we could take in the sight, another baby bunny, this one a black and white saddleback like Sally came hopping out from what seemed like our side yard. We went running to pick up the bunnies and see where they were coming from when more baby bunnies seemed to appear on the street out of nowhere. I thought God had come down and seen fit to bless us with baby bunnies.

    My sister, cousins, and I were simultaneously trying to collect the bunnies and call to our parents that there had been a miracle when we saw a fast dark thing race out and grab the Goldie baby bunny with monster-like teeth. The next thing any of us knew, the entire neighborhood had come out of their houses, neighbors who would later say they thought someone was being murdered from the screaming. The screaming was my sister, cousins, and me chasing the Siamese cat from down the street--the cat that had baby Goldie in its teeth. We must have scared the hell out of the poor dumb cat since we found it cowering in the front bushes of its house, baby bunny Goldie still in its mouth.

    I don't remember how we got baby Goldie home. The next thing I remember is our mother in the utility room holding baby Goldie in a towel in her lap. You could see baby bunny Goldie's chest going up and down very fast. I wanted to stay but our mother said it was best to keep the room warm, dark, and quiet, so she asked me to turn out the light and wait outside.

    In the meantime, our father had been searching the back yard for the source of the Baby Bunny Miracle. We had a little rowboat that was turned upside down just behind the fence to our side yard. Although our father had already looked there, my cousins and I went rooting around there again. Just as we were about to turn over the boat again--POP!--another baby bunny came out from underneath it and went running off. We got the boat upended but try as we might, we could not find a hole. Then another bunny seemed to burst whole out of the grass. We started moving things away from that part of the grass and finally saw what looked like a small gopher hole. How I had the nerve to do this I'll never know, but I put my hand down the hole. As soft as a rabbit's fur is, the bottom of the hole was incomparably softer.

    I went running yelling for our dad, "We found the hole! We found the hole!" But instead of our dad being excited that we had found it, he told my sister and me to go to our room. I couldn't understand why our dad seemed mad that we had found the baby bunny hole. My sister and I sat on the bed, not saying anything but figuring we were in trouble somehow. My sister and I were still sharing a room then since my sister was too scared to sleep in the bedroom our grandmother had before she'd died a few months earlier. I was annoyed, of course, that I was still having to share the room with my 'fraidy cat baby sister. My sister said she could feel my grandmother in the room. I didn't even care that my grandmother was dead.

    After a while our mother came in. I asked her, "Is the baby bunny okay?" Our mother shook her head no. I asked her, "Is it sick?" Our mother shook her head no. I tried to ask the next question but I remember getting all squishy faced the way kids do and hearing my 'fraidy cat baby sister say, "Did the baby bunny die?"

    The next thing I remember is crying and screaming on the bed for what seemed like days. Our mother tried to be nice to me but I had decided it was her fault that the baby bunny died and her fault that the Siamese cat had taken the baby bunny and her fault that the baby bunny that got taken and died was the one that looked just like Goldie, who was my favorite. So I was mean to my mother every time she tried to be nice to me.

    That night was the last night my sister and I shared a room. The next night I moved my toys and clothes into what had been my grandmother's room. I went to bed in my grandmother's bed that night and in the morning, I remember being sorry she was gone.

  2. #2

    0 Not allowed!

    Re: In Honor of Punzie: Favorite Pet Stories

    When my oldest son went away to college, he rented the downstairs of a former barn, heated only by a woodstove. He had found the dorm too noisy, and he liked the funky idea of living in a barn, having been asked all his life, "Close that door, what were you, brought up in a barn?" The upstairs of the barn was rented by a woman who was also a student at his college. After he moved in he found out that he had a persistent mouse problem in his kitchen. He tried traps and baits, but however many he killed, there were always more. He soon found out that while he was trying to exterminate the mice, the upstairs tenant was putting out rice in little bowls to feed them.

    Realizing that he needed something to make his apartment off limits to the resident mice, he decided to get a cat and do a good deed at the same time. He had heard that the Barre, VT, SPCA eliminated their excess pet population by gassing them to death by putting the unfortunate animal in a box hooked to the exhaust of a running car. This method apparently saved money, but was very painful, as well as lethal. He went to the Barre SPCA and asked them to give him the cat that was next in line for the gas chamber. The cat in question was our Lydia the Tattoed Lady. Lydia was a tiny silver and black striped tiger cat who had been placed twice in homes but had been returned as a hopeless case. She had a habit of jumping on the chest of sleeping people
    and lovingly kneading her claws into them, which resulted in her being fired back to the SPCA.

    I prefer not to know how Ludwig convinced Lydia not to claw people, furniture, rugs or other objects, but he certainly succeeded. His upstairs neighbor was appalled that he was set up to murder her sweet little mice. They compromised in that Lydia would not patrol the hall and stairs, but would remain in Ludwig's apartment.

    When Ludwig came home for the summer, Lydia came with him, and the tough little cat has been with us ever since. He was tired of feeding the woodstove at the barn and rented a house that would not take pets, so Lydia stayed with us. Lydia is the most curious little person I have ever met. She always waits at the top of the stairs, looking out the upstairs window so that she can be at the door whenever any car comes up the driveway. When I was working, it was Lydia
    who always met me at the door. She loves to play with the light that reflects off your watch face or with any little feather toy.

    Lydia does not like vets who try to extract blood from her. She will take pills or shots, but does not tolerate bloodtests. Lydia has taken more blood from vets than they have taken from her. She had had her first shots from a vet near Ludwig's college, who would not handle her except in a cat bag. When she needed to be spayed we took her to the vet that we always used for our dog. We told him he would need a cat bag for Lydia. He told us that cat bags were inhumane, and that he could handle our tiny 5 lb. cat by himself. When he tried to get a blood sample, Lydia flipped around and dug all four paws worth of claws into him. The vet said, "Hey, I need some help here. Into the examining room went his assistant. Lydia then took 2 feet off the vet and dug them into the assistant. "More help," yelled the vet, and in rushed the second assistant. At this point the vet was able to free himself, and grab a hypodermic with a sedative, and put the cat out so that he could get a blood test, saying, "Lydia, Lydia, Lovely Lydia, I hope you never require prolonged nursing."

    She is now 20, and has had 2 strokes. There are many other Lydia stories, but I am too sad to tell them. She seems to be a little better today, but at 20, she is a very, very old cat.

  3. #3

    0 Not allowed!

    Re: In Honor of Punzie: Favorite Pet Stories

    Aw, Doris, Lydia reminds me of my Pi and our Peanuts. Pi has been my kitty since 1989 and she has that same habit of jumping on your chest and kneeding her paws into you. The vet told me that it's related to nursing, that the cat is "remembering" its nursing movements (the paw kneeding) and that this relaxes the cat. I guess any chest will do for some kitties. Pi also liked to grind her head into me. Whenever I was away from Pi for more than a day, after I came home Pi would first be aloof but when I went to bed she would kneed and grind herself all over me. Yes, I think it was what it sounds like. This was Pi's way of having sex with me. Once I had to be away from Pi for a couple of months (long story). When we were finally reunited, Pi (after the initial aloof "Where the hell were you?!") jumped on me that night and had a herself a little kitty orgy. Pi was better than some boyfriends, I must say. I'm using the past tense because Pi is still in Arizona with my mother (another long story). We say Pi has retired in Arizona. The best thing about my mother's apartment is that it has a sliding glass door that goes onto a little patio and some grass. My mother throws breadcrumbs out there for the birds, which makes the glass door like giant screen TV for Pi. She sits in her hen position and watches the birds through the door for hours. Pi is 14 now and she is wonderful for my mother, but I miss her terribly. One thing about Pi is that she was the most amazing cat with vets I or the vets had ever seen. She would go into something like a trance and the vet could do anything with her. Give her a shot, she doesn't even blink. Draw blood, same deal. All the vets Pi has ever been to say the same thing, that they've never seen a cat so docile and calm in that situation. Ironically, Pi is a big scaredy cat with everybody else. She won't let anybody except me or my mother pick her up and you have to be around for at least a week before she'll let you pet her. But with vets, Pi completely gave herself over. Like I said, a trance.

    Peanuts was one of the cats my parents got when the first moved from Chicago to Phoenix in the 1950s. Peanuts lived to be about 22 and poor thing, near the end she had lost all her teeth and my mother would feed her cat food the vet recommended mixed with water through a turkey baster. We had a number of cats through the years and Peanuts put up with them all. She was definitely the matriarch of the house.

    Her companion was Fluffy, a beautiful orange persian. When my sister was a baby, my mother would put pillows around her on the floor and my sister would just play in that area. My sister loved to play with Fluffy. She would pick him up and roll around with him, do anything she wanted, and Fluffy would just be like a rag doll and let her do it. Never even a meow out of Fluffy. But as soon as Fluffy got tired of it, he would pull his claws in and punch my sister in the nose. He'd do it really fast, like bam-bam-bam-bam-bam, and my sister's head would @#%$ back a bit with each punch. That would leave my sister sitting there totally confused while Fluffy scampered off like it was just all in a day's work. This same scenario happened just about every day. Some years later a cat virus went around and one day Fluffy left and never came home. They say cats often leave their homes when they know they're going to die.

    So sorry about Lydia. We had about a dozen cats and dogs growing up and every one of them had a unique personality. They really infuse their love and souls into your life and it's so sad when they get old and sick.

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