Goodnight, Kitten

I didn’t have a lot of pets growing up. What pets I had were a combination of dogs we inherited or just randomly adopted (or they adopted us), and a cat or two that liked to be around us. Mom had some parakeets once, but then she lost it when they died. There is also the story of me adopting a baby chick that grew up to be a rooster.

When I started dating my wife ten years ago, we mutually adopted a little cat. My wife already had a 14 year-old Maine Coon with an attitude. The Little Cat was our little girl, a sign that our relationship was going somewhere. When we brought the Little Cat home, the Big Cat almost packed up and left. Seriously, he was pissed. But they grew to respect each other and live in harmony.

Big Cat passed away about six years ago, and Little Cat became the alpha cat of the house. She then got a little brother that ended up dying in an accident. After him, she got two sisters. Along with the dog and the Guinea Pigs in my office, they all got to give the house a lot of life. They gave us a lot of love, too. And we got a good bit of laughs from all their shenanigans.

Unfortunately, the Little Cat developed cancer on her neck. After a few months of trying different things, the tumors got so big that they got in the way of her eating, drinking, and breathing. The humane thing to do was to euthanize her. So we took her to the veterinarian last week and said goodbye to her. It was very, very hard to do. We miss her dearly.

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How could you not love her?

I’ve always been amazed that we humans come to be so close to these furry animals. They truly do become our family. The Little Cat was truly our little girl, a symbol that our dating did progress to our current marriage (six years and counting)… That we are both committed to this home, to ourselves, and to these kittens.

Goodnight, kitten. I hope you’re enjoying a big batch of catnip with the Big Cat and the Boy Cat… And all other cats who’ve moved on.

Colombia, Addendum #2: Morning at the zoo

The heat hasn’t let up, but that hasn’t stopped me from checking out a few of the sites around town. (Mostly around where I’m staying, really.) It was already in the low 90s with the heat index in the mid 100s by 9am in the morning. Still, I headed out to the Barranquilla Zoo. It was a three-mile walk there… And a three mile walk back.

Anyway, there was an enormous line when I got to the zoo. Most of the people in line were children. They were there with a school or a camp or something. There were dozens of them, all excited to see animals. A man walked from kid to kid, handing out small binoculars. I thought he was with them, but, no, he was selling the binoculars for about $2 each. Once in the kid’s hands, the parents couldn’t deny them the binoculars.

Nice strategy. Continue reading

Picture of the day: Horse

I went for a quick drive and ran into this fellow.

He was just standing there, looking beautiful. It reminded me that summer is almost over, and that I need to get out and get some good pictures before it ends. Then again, the foliage pictures this fall should be nice, and the snow pictures in the winter tend to be good, too.

What is it about our pets?

[row][span size=’8′][slab_h3][slabtext]”I would like to see anyone, [/slabtext][slabtext] prophet, king or God,[/slabtext][slabtext]convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” [/slabtext][slabtext]– Neil Gaiman[/slabtext][/slab_h3][/span][/row]
I have always loved dogs. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t like them. Even when a neighbor’s dog took a bite out of my hand, I still liked all other dogs. (You’d think the bite and the ensuing rabies vaccine series would have made me fear dogs.) However, because of our financial situation growing up I didn’t get to have a lot of dogs. One dog I had died when we were unable to take it to the veterinarian. Another dog ran away.

It was my grandfather who had dogs, and lots of them. He loved his dogs. He fed them meat from the slaughterhouse every evening. That’s one really good memory I have of spending summers with my grandparents in Chihuahua. Grandpa would come home and his dogs would go crazy for him. He’d stand in the backyard, cutting off pieces of meat for the dogs. My aunt had a house cat that ran outside and onto the roof to get his piece there. One time, grandpa threw a piece of meat up at the cat, the cat reached out for it and missed, falling into the pack of dogs on the ground. Poor cat. That probably cost him one life, at least.

When I was in college, my landlord, who lived right next door, had two dogs. He kept them hungry all the time, feeding them only once. He said that it made them more aggressive so they would protect his home. Those two dogs were anything but aggressive. I’d come home late and toss them some scraps. The way their tails wagged made me smile.

After college, I didn’t have any pets at all until I met the woman who’d become my wife. She taught me to love pets by introducing me to her behemoth cat. A few months into our dating, we adopted a little cat. Then I got a fish for my apartment. Once we moved in together, we got a dog. Let me tell you, that dog and the big cat got along famously. I have hidden camera footage of the two of them napping on the couch, one on each side, for hours every day when we were gone. Unfortunately, the big cat passed away from old age.

It was then that we adopted a new cat. We had him for a few months before he passed away from an accident in the unfinished basement. I was out for a run when my wife called me. She was very upset. She found him hanging by his collar on a wire in the basement. The snap-away collar didn’t snap away. It was awful. Ever since, she’s made sure to see all the cats as soon as we get home.

I write “cats” because we eventually got two kittens to give company to the little cat. The two kittens are all grown up now, but only in size. They still think they’re kittens, and they give the little cat a run for her money.

While we were dating, and after the fish died (as fish do), I got a couple of gerbils. When they died (as they do), I got a couple of Guinea Pigs. They sit in my office all day, doing what they do… Which is mostly eating. When I sit at my desk and do stuff, I’ll take one of them out to sit at the desk with me. He’ll look at the monitor or wander around, eating my notes and important documents.

It’s true what my wife said about having pets: They give the most empty home a feeling of being alive. Now that I have these quadrupeds around, I can’t imagine not being in this “pack.” It’s our little family, and it will always be our little family, even if we decide to fill the house with human children as well.

And, now, here are some pictures of our quadrupeds, including three dogs whose picture I took when I traveled to Chihuahua a few weeks ago.
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