Contributed by Pamela Roller
Last month, I wrote about animal cruelty and included some disturbing photos, information and statistics. This month, I’d like to turn about and give you several heartwarming stories from people who simply adore their pets. Be sure to leave a comment with your own loving pet story. I’d love to read them!
The photo above is of our beagle and his boy.
Our family went to the SPCA one afternoon. Amidst the howling, barking, pacing, and pawing, there, crouched trembling in his cage, was a beagle. The card read, “Elvis. Male. Brought by owner.”
He stared at us with soulful brown eyes. “Let’s look at him,” I said impulsively.
As soon as Elvis was brought into the inspection room, he made a beeline to me, then to our son. He steered clear of my husband. A jagged black scar ran up his back leg, and he had tiny black circular scars on his nose–the size of the end of a cigarette. He sniffed us, wagged his tail, and when we rose to look at a couple of other dogs, he must have decided to take us home because he ran straight to the door and looked back, eyes shining.
Four years later, Elvis is comfortable around men again. He doesn’t crouch as often when we reach down to pet him or hug him, and he no longer hides when I flick the lighter to light the dinner candles. He’s brought joy into our lives, loving us the way dogs do: just right.
The hardest part of having dogs is saying goodbye. You know when you bring home a bouncing puppy that the dog will almost certainly pass away before you do, but you know that the years of joy are worth the inevitable sorrow. Kayla was our first purebred Belgian Tervuren and came into our home when she was almost three years old. She was bartered by the breeder to an Oregon cattle-rancher. She was destined to be a stock dog, but the rancher went bankrupt and Kayla went back to the breeder.
Kayla’s next stop was a large show-dog kennel in Homestead, Florida. The owner had spaniels and Rottweilers and wanted a new breed. Not long after settling in to her second home, Hurricane Andrew blew most of Homestead into the Gulf of Mexico. Kayla was evacuated in time, along with the other dogs, but the kennel was destroyed and she was given up to a foster home.
Kayla was passed among a handful of Belgian Tervuren fanciers, each showing her a little bit, but none taking such a liking to her that they wanted to keep her. Her travels took her from Florida to Texas and back, and then eventually to Virginia. She was never abused or neglected, and nobody ever considered dumping her in a shelter, but nobody wanted to make her their own, either.
I was looking for my next dog for competition training when I met the owner of Kayla’s sister. She casually mentioned that she knew of a Terv that needed a home. When I met Kayla something immediately clicked for both of us and I made the decision in an instant. Of course, a dog that has been passed around so much doesn’t make close friends so quickly. It took many months for the two of us to truly bond. But when we did, great things started happening.
After finishing her breed championship we launched into a ten-year career of training competition. Obedience, tracking, agility, rally, lure coursing…we did it all. We traveled up and down the east coast together, celebrated success often and cried together occasionally. Kayla accumulated over thirty training titles in our decade of showing.
All of those titles were unimportant as I slumped against the wall of the examination room. I held Kayla in my lap, murmuring into her ear while the veterinarian prepared the syringe. I didn’t think about the blue ribbons and the disqualifications, of the hotel bills and fast food breakfasts. What I thought about was our the bond we shared, the same bond that our two species have shared since the dawn of history. Two beings, working harmoniously together in a relationship like no other. As the vet kneeled on the floor, I told Kayla “Thank you” and said goodbye.
The farm around the corner from us had a sign that said, ‘Golden Retriever Puppies for Sale’. The girls and Tim begged to go see them, just to ‘look.’ I gave in but said there was no way we were getting a puppy since Carly was still only 2.
Well, of course, they were the most adorable things I had ever seen. The one in the back with the green collar got my attention. He (or she, I wasn’t sure) was very quiet and didn’t jump and bark like the others did. The puppy looked right into my eyes and I just fell in love. We left and talked about it constantly. Finally, I agreed and said, ‘OK, if we get that puppy, I get to name it since I will be doing all the work. If it’s a boy, let’s name him Cody and if it’s a girl, Molly.’
The next morning, Tim went running. When he came home from his run, he had a very strange look on his face. He told me that he didn’t really go running. He went back to the farm to look at that puppy in the green collar. He said, ‘Alisa, we have got to get that puppy. It’s meant for us.’ He told me that the breeder had already named all the puppies and guess what, they named him Cody. Then the mother dog came over and Tim found out that her name was Molly. That afternoon, we brought Cody home.He is the most sweetest and calmest dog that we could have ever asked for. We love him!
Years ago I had four Belgian Tervuren in my home. One neutered male was dominant aggressive. We’d been working for more than two years to get Deacon to accept that we were the alphas and that he could not discipline us with his teeth. Our other young male, Paladin, was easy going and good natured, never challenged anyone.
One night I was home alone, lying on the sofa. Paladin was across the room, on his back playing with our new puppy. Deacon was lying next to me on the floor. I reached down to pet him and he growled. He had a toy and I knew I couldn’t let him get away with growling or all our work would have been undone, so I reached down to pick it up. Deacon bit down on my hand and sat up, carrying my hand with him.
I frantically tried to decide how to stop him from hurting me more seriously, but before I could do more than take a deep breath, Paladin leapt from his place across the room, cleared the coffee table, knocked Deacon off me and pinned him to the wall. Clasping my injured hand in my good one, I cheerfully called the dogs to go outside, which they did before I collapsed in shock. My husband arrived a few minutes later from work and rushed me to the hospital. The bites were deep but not my hand was not torn up.
We realized that night that I was pregnant with our daughter. I will always believe that Paladin saved me from being mauled. He watched over Tierney every day from the day she was born until he died two years ago at almost 16. He was a champion in dog shows, but more importantly he was my champion, which of course is what “paladin” means. Alleyne Dickens http://www.alleynedickens.com/ http://www.bonheurbelgians.com/
From my mom:
Our five-pound, two-year-old papillon, Corwin, gave us a surprise a few days ago. We were noticing the fur by a leg that had a knot in it. Joe was trying to straighten it out when Corwin used his tongue to water the area and then proceeded with his teeth to pull back and forth until the knot was straightened out. It amazed us both, but happily so.
From fellow ace blog writer Beth Trissel:
I’ve always had cats. Cats are an integral part of my world and our farm. Three reside indoors; Gabby, a lavender Oriental Shorthair, closely related to the Siamese and just as vocal, and her chestnut-colored son, Pookah, so named for the invisible creatures that steal things, and he does. We used to call him “the paw” because of the way he opens drawers or cabinets and pilfers whatever he likes, usually hair thingies. He and Gabby are mad over scrunchies, and colorful bands that hold hair in pony tails.
Pookah is a gorgeous cat and an excellent thief, but he sucks his tail. Not very manly. A kind woman living in Florida sent us Gabby years ago to comfort the children after the tragic death of their young cousin Matthew. Gabby came to us on a plane, an odd infant highly unlike the barn cats we were accustomed to.
At first we didn’t know what to think of this little gray monkey forever disappearing into the highest cabinets or crouching on the tops of doors and wardrobes. Nor did we understand her peculiar cry, but once we learned to know her, we were hooked. That’s how we came by Pookah, the big-eared kitten we kept from a litter of three after we had Gabby bred to a fancy Siamese, Cappuccino. He wasn’t manly either.
Then there’s Minnie Mae, the tabby kitten-cat my daughter Elise and I raised from early infancy after her stray, airhead mother inadvertently left Minnie Mae and her brother Cedric in our care. Minnie Mae was so tiny she barely spanned my palm and is still small for a grown cat. Cedric is a big boy and resides with son Cory on the other farm, but he’s a sissy too, and has a favorite blanket which he kneads obsessively, probably due to the trauma of being abandoned shortly after birth. He also sucks on it. His father is a tough old barn cat named Chester. Nothing sissy about Chester.
All three of our cats must content themselves with gazing out the window, tails twitching whenever they spy a bird. It’s touching how devoted they are to birds, and have often asked for a bird of their very own, “To hug it and squeeze it and call it George,” but I am not so gullible. I don’t know how common it is to have arguments with cats but Gabby and I argue all the time–Pookah, only when he is particularly put out with the accommodations here, and then he really howls.
Minnie Mae is a whimsical creature, with a funny series of purrs. Elise calls the chirrupy purr when she scampers across the room, her bouncing purr. Then there’s her inquiring purr, when she has a question, which is fairly often being a thoughtful, observant cat. Her excited purr hums forth when she greets us after a long absence, say overnight. She sleeps outside Dennis’ and my bedroom door and eagerly awaits the dawn.
When I was a child I listened repeatedly to a favorite record that I still have about the adventures of Dick Whittington and his cat. Dick would exclaim: “Here comes Ripple Dee Dee! Oh, cat, I love you very much.” And I do. All of them.
I went down to the dairy this morning and played with Zippy, the bouncy black kitten that has come into our lives. He’s about five or six weeks old and scampers around fearlessly like a streaking bullet. But also tolerates snuggling and is very sweet. His mother, Kate, a small calico barn cat, is affectionate though not overly. Until two days ago, Zippy and his shy as yet unnamed orange brother lived up in the loafing shed. That’s the building where dairy cows hang out and shoot pool, play cards or snack in the dining hall until they feel like ambling out to the meadow to soak up some rays and chew the cud.
The loafing shed is also like a hotel or all girl dorm with sleeping accommodations, wooden stalls filled with shavings, which they haggle over. The stalls all look pretty much the same to me, but apparently cows can discern the difference in quality. Maybe some command a better view of the barn or have plusher shavings. Only they know. It’s a great place for kittens as long as they don’t get stepped on.
The milking parlor is where the real action is, and the milk. Cats and kittens get free samples and snitch dog food and whatever else is tossed their way, in addition to the very important work of mousing. And now Zippy has graduated to the big league. What’s next? The old red barn.
Elise and I found a bedraggled black kitten in a shadowed corner of the old barn huddled beside an ancient water trough. Hay was stuck to its fur and its head slick in places from a calf’s sympathetic tongue. We carried the mewing puff ball down to the house and gave it a bath. Being mostly fur, it shrank considerably in the water and nearly disappeared.
After drying this soggy specimen of catdom, we bundled it up in an old towel and fed it the formula concocted by a local vet for orphan kittens: one cup whole milk, one teaspoon of vegetable oil, one egg yolk, whisk well and warm. This baby is old enough to lap and downed the lot I had poured into a shallow lid. We filled a canning jar with hot water, screwed the lid on tightly and tucked our swaddled charge beside the improvised water bottle back in the small closet in the laundry room. Assorted farm coats, jeans and shirts hang on hooks up above and brush our heads as we kneel to peer into this den-like place. There’s nothing dogs like better for a bed than a worn coat with that farm smell still clinging to it, cozily tucked back into this closet.
Cats prefer sunbeams but will make do. I’ve spent many hours on my knees helping to birth puppies, fuss over their care and tend kittens. Countless kittens and puppies, tiny terriers that could fit in a shoe box, medium size dogs and dogs that have grown too big but are still attached, have called this comforting space home. The narrow walls are gnawed and deeply grooved from the many inhabitants over the years. Every household should have such a place.
Fortunately, our dog, Mia (an animal shelter rescue) also likes her bed in the dining room because she can’t be trusted to kitten-sit. The formula rapidly dwindles. Not only that, she’s afraid of kittens. Silly, silly Mia. The kitten does not yet have a name because if you name a creature that implies that it’s staying, which this one very well may be. Sometimes you just need a kitten.
Oddly, it would seem that Mia always wanted a kitten of her own after all. She follows the minute puff ball around the kitchen and hovers over it with a worried look. Actually, Mia generally looks worried. I suppose from earlier traumas before we took her in. She has never had a small furry friend though and even tries to play with the kitten as it bounds around the kitchen in great excitement over everything and anything.
My mother made the observation that kittens and other babies can utterly give themselves to play in a way that the rest of us can’t because we’ve had the “play” smacked out of us by life. Now and then, I think we should all play as unreservedly as possible.
So there you have it. Wonderful stories from people who love their pets. How about you? Have stories to share? Write back with your wonderful pet story in the comments section.
Thanks for reading!