IntrepidWoman's Journey

And the winner is . . .

Posted on: October 30, 2011

I have this theory that either our pets choose us or are assigned to us by the Divine Creator. Since childhood, I have had many pets, mostly cats and they all arrived in my care in interesting ways.

I was sitting in a lawn chair in our massive yard across from a large park when Missy ran across the street and right up into my lap. There she sat, looking at me. She was timid and other cats were mean to her. My husband at the time said, “No more pets, as we already had Blue, a fluffy, puffy bit of air, all white with a black tail. (Blue was abused by a previous owner whose wife had asked me to take her.)

Missy, of course stayed, and then left with me and the boys, Blue and George the abandoned dog, when we parted company with the city and the husband. Over her long life, she hid a lot around the house, waiting for me to come home, and then would land in my lap where she would stay as long as I would sit down.  She was the recipient of constant bullying from her peers and I was her protector for the rest of her life.

During Missy’s reign, we acquired Dusty. My boys were little and we had moved to a small coal mining town in the mountains. One evening we walked to downtown from up on the hill to get the mail. On the way home, this smudgy black and gray cat started following us. I declared to all, “Do not pet it or pick it up. We do not need another cat.” Well, before we arrived home, she had almost been run over and then was chased by a dog. I had to pick her up to save her life. Once ensconced in our house, she cleaned herself for hours, revealing a radiant white chest. face and socks. We named her Dusty (short for Coal Dust).

We acquired another kitten after a few years who actually adopted David. After about a year, we had to move back to the city so I could finish my teaching degree at university. We had 4 cats including David’s Scooter, and it would be impossible to rent with so many. I found a condo whose owner agreed to two cats, so we left Radar with the renters of our house and gave Scooter to a friend to keep for a year until our return. My last words to her were, “Don’t let him out for a week or two until he has his bearings.” She let him out the next day and he disappeared into the woods.

David was devastated. When we returned to the Pass and our house, he rode his bike over to the area to see if he could find Scooter. I told him it had been 8 months and through a cold winter and not to get his hopes up, thinking he would have no luck at all. He returned all excited saying he had called him and Scooter had run out of the woods to greet him. He could not carry him home on his bike, so we went in the car and he called again. Out came the cat and it was Scooter. A trip to the vet to take care of worms, etc. and Scooter was back with us. He had survived a cold winter outside to reunite with David.

Then there was Archie. He was a tiny, orange ball of a kitten who appeared in our front yard one day.  I checked with the SPCA and he had been reported lost so we turned him in. A week later he was back, having travelled again from way up the hill down to our house across from the local doctor. He was declared missing again and we returned him again. The next time he showed up, I called the SPCA and they said the owners had not contacted them, so we might as well keep him. Dean took to carrying him around in a paper grocery bag. The boys grew up and left home, leaving Archie and I together. He lived to the ripe old age of 20.

If you have ever had a pet have a most special place in your heart and stand out in your memory, mine was Archie. As a ‘kid’, he liked to sleep in the bathroom sink and on top of the portable dishwasher when it was warm from running. He was a gentle angel and was content to be wherever I was.

In his later years, we lived in a house that had a charming little wood stove. I would get the fire going strong on a cold, winter night and stretch out on my side on the couch. My other cats at the time would lay on the hardwood in front of the stove, turning from tummy to back to get evenly toasted. Archie would jump up on the couch, stretch out beside me, place his front paws in my hand over my head and sleep against me until I finally made the move to the bed. I used to lay down very quietly on the couch when he was asleep somewhere else in the house and as quiet as I was, he was there in minutes and in his napping position. It took a long time after he passed to quit thinking he was going to come around the corner to lay on the couch with me.

Spanky was a pure white kitten, found in a parking lot at a hotel in the city in the middle of winter. My mom and I had stopped there for a meal one night, on our way home, and we found him when we were leaving. It was very cold and storming and we did not know what to do, so took him home. There were no houses within several blocks of the hotel. He sat on Mom’s lap the entire trip home. I said I would call the SPCA the next day to see if anyone reported him missing. She said if not, she would keep him as company for her other cat. No reports at the SPCA and after a few days my mom called to tell me to pick up this crazy animal. He was terrorizing her cat, running up and down the curtains and ripping across the couches. I brought him home to join my team and he calmly settled in. Eldest son Jim likes to tell the story of how his mother and grandmother stole “Snowball” from the city and how a little girl was crying herself to sleep over his loss. Rotter.

While living in the mountains, I also adopted 2 dogs, both older and needing homes. Boone was a lot older than Courtney and when we moved to 19 acres at the back of Bellevue, I would walk the two of them through the woods and up to the waterfall. Boone was deaf and would wander off, so I would send Courtney to find him and guide him back.

My final adoption was Creamsicle, another orange, long-haired beauty. He had lived with a family for 5 years and they decided to put him down because the kids liked their new dog better. A good friend said no way and found a home for him north of Calgary. I offered to take him to his new home as I was heading that way, so emailed the fellow saying I would be arriving at a certain time. I borrowed a big cage to put Creamsicle in and went to get him. The owner has stuffed him into a broken, tiny cage and I quickly transferred him and put him in my car, eager to leave their house and their smirking little dog. As I drove away, I looked in the rear view mirror to see this solemn, elegant cat watching me. His eyes never left mine. I knew without a doubt that I was supposed to keep him. I emailed the person waiting for his arrival to see if he would be upset. He said no. He was only taking him as a favor to our mutual friend.

Creamsicle lived with Spanky and I for many years and was a lovely, sweet and gentle cat.

These were some of my pets who most certainly ‘chose’ me or were chosen for me and my family. The hardest times were losing each of them, with so many tears shed and more broken pieces to an already damaged heart.

Creamsicle, and then Spanky, were the last to go, a few months apart, and then I decided I was done. I had lived with pets since I was a child and now I was old.

Since moving to my current location, I now live alone. There are no cat boxes, no hair on the furniture or clawed ends on the couch. It is quiet, but I am okay with that. It is other people’s turns now to be the caretakers of these loving little creatures.

I have so many photos and so many memories, which brings to mind my biggest ‘pet’, acquired in my 40s. My entire childhood was spent asking my parents for a horse. We lived in the city so my request was met with, “Is she crazy, or what?”

One day, when I was a teacher in the Pass, one of my high school students in an art class, started talking about wanting to get rid of her horse because he did not like barrel racing anymore. He would buck her off and then slide to a halt. She was ticked and was going to find a younger horse to replace him. I decided my time had come, so this sounds like I picked him, but not so.

Friends who were horse folk, told me to go for a ride to see if we liked each other. They came along with their horses and I rode Nippy bareback because I did not have any tack. We were sauntering along when I started to laugh about something. Not being a seasoned rider, I lost my leg grip and slipped down the side of the horse, landing in front of him in a pile of soft dirt, still laughing. He stopped short, looked down on me and asked, “What the heck are you doing down there?”  That was the moment he chose me.

We had several years of long rides into the forestry, manned with coffee and boiled eggs in my saddlebags. My sons had pooled their money and bought me a used saddle I saw in the shoe repair shop window. I had bought a dozen books on horses and learned to saddle up and ride from reading instead of asking others.

I found out his original name was Freckles because he was a ‘grey’ (white hair with brown freckles all over). His first owner used to beat him on the legs with a stick. A previous owner had changed his name to Mackintosh and the student before me had changed it to Nippy. (She said he had the habit of biting other horses on the rump when made to follow, but I never saw evidence of this.)  I decided that adoption should not include constant name changes so back to his original name of Freckles we went. I would drive down to the stables where he was boarded and he would recognize my car, running over to the gate to wait for me.

When he lived with me at the back of Bellevue on the acreage, I would get up at 6:00 AM on winter mornings and stand there in the bitter cold while he ate a hot mash of oats and molasses, all the time nickering and talking to me. My childhood dream was fulfilled with more joy than I ever could have imagined.

There is a story called Rainbow Bridge:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown…

I so look forward to Rainbow Bridge. There are many dear pet friends waiting there for me.


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