softer side

For the Love of Cats

We got our first “family” pet when our sons were in third and fifth grade. It had been brought to our attention many times that it would be wonderful to have a pet, and of course listened to all the promises of care and all they would do to make it a “no work” situation for mom or dad. We were also reminded of the pets we had growing up and that we shouldn’t deny them all the experiences (good and bad) that we had had. 

I lived on a farm until I was thirteen, and there were plenty of animals to get close to and take care of. But almost all lived in the barn and not the house, and all (if allowed in) went outside to eat and use the potty. There were no litter boxes or “potty pads” (that was new one for me!). Gary and I both had a dog in our childhood, Jiggs – black part-Spaniel for me, and Butch – an overweight Collie mix for Gary. Both were loved and sadly missed when they were gone. Gary’s experience with the death was far more traumatic than mine, but if you have lost a pet, you can sympathize. 

We had just moved to Derby Line from Springfield, Vermont, when we got a call from a family friend that they had to give up their dog as they were moving to a place that didn’t allow pets! I don’t think I want to live in a place like that!! Here was our opportunity and we couldn’t say no. Sugar was a rescue dog from Texas. She had short legs, long hair (don’t know the breed, but a mix), stood about 10 inches high and about 15 inches long. She was the most lovable, sweet dog and we all fell in love immediately. She was with us about 6 years and our hearts were broken when we had to let her go. 

Our second pet (another dog) came to us as a puppy. He was brought home by our oldest son, and all the promises made for taking care of him — training, etc. — went out the window about 3 days into ownership. Being younger (at the time), I took on the job. I managed to potty train him but never seemed to get anywhere else with him. Oh yes, I did teach him to beg and sit but “come” was a foreign word. Bismark, a Shepherd/Lab mix, weighed about 120 lbs. He was with us about 15 years. We were the only ones who loved him, and I used to say he was a horrible dog, but we cried like babies when he was gone. 

I have told you about Willy (#1) who we fed for almost a year before we caught and got him medically cleared and housebound. He was with us about 10 years. With this experience, we found we are definitely CAT people. After losing Willy, Gary kept his eye peeled for another cat, and we lucked out big time with a stray from St. Johnsbury named Cal. He sounded like the perfect cat, and as it has turned out, he is. We renamed him Willy #2. He is so sweet to everyone that wants to pet him. He doesn’t jump on counters or other places you wouldn’t want him, doesn’t tear up paper (but loves to lay on it). He will let you know it is mealtime but will patiently wait. We adopted his sister, but they never got along, entirely opposite personalities. 

Serena was with us about a year (she lived downstairs and he lived up). We noticed that they seemed to be trying to get along finally when she got sick and died. It has been over a year since she left us, and every day Willy goes around crying like he is looking for her. 

Gary and I have definitely decided that cats are the way to go. We still love dogs, but while we need to walk, we certainly can’t do the exercise that a dog would need. Cats that eat, nap, play a little, nap, and do it all over again, now that’s our speed! 


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