Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life with Critters

Two weeks ago yesterday, we adopted a new buddy, a tortoise-shell, five-year-old female kitty named Taz. She disappeared for several hours before we realized she was hiding up the chimney. After I closed the flue, however, she settled in and cuddles with us as if she’d lived here forever. Her mostly-black face--her nose and even her whiskers are black--with big bright eyes reminds me of the mostly-faceless Marvin the Martian, nemesis of Bugs Bunny and proud of his illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator.

In addition to opening a new chapter in our family life, it has helped us enormously to have a new kitty as we continue to reminisce about Oddball, our 14-year-old tabby who passed away on June 8. But we've also talked again our little part-Siamese cat Domino, who died in 2005. Taz is less squatty than Oddball (“squatty cat, squatty cat, it’s not your fault”) and more lanky like Domino; in fact, I’ve slipped and called her “Dommo” several times, betraying the fondness we still have for that kitty who’s been gone five years.

As a kid, I had a series of household pets: a horned toad, a salamander, a hamster, at least one gold fish, all eventually buried in the backyard. We had outdoor cats at different times, but we lived on a busy street ... enough said. We could’ve had our own small cemetery, like that of Natalie Portman’s character in the movie Garden State.

Our two main pets were a sad old cocker spaniel, Lady (1954-1967), who lived in the backyard and, in wintertime, the garage; and a dachshund named Baron (1968-1979). When she died, Lady was just old and tired; we buried her at my grandmother’s farm near Brownstown, IL. Baron had a bad heart, presumably from eating too many skins from Dad’s tasty fried chicken. Baron is buried in the backyard, though my parents eventually lost track of the exact spot.

I remember Baron and think: what a pain in the @%# dog! Cute but high maintenance. True to his breed, he barked at everything he noticed outside our picture widow. He’d nearly have a stroke if someone came to the door. He also had psychological problems with urination. He’d only pee in our backyard, so when we took him on vacations in our camper (cheap Dad never would’ve considered boarding him), he’d never “go” until he was so full of pee that he messed somewhere inappropriate, like the floor of the camper or the seat of the pickup.

During her last few months Oddball also peed in inappropriate places, but that was okay because we knew she was sick and we wanted to pamper her as much as we could.

Pets don't figure in the Bible, but that would've been fun. Would Paul have enjoyed a breed of dog which traveled easily? Would Peter's mother-in-law have been a crazy cat lady? What would Jesus adopt?


  1. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this entry. :-)

  2. Paul,

    I have no doubt that Jesus had animals following him around, just like people did. I am sure that he reached down to pet them when they came near. After all - if Jesus exemplifies the love of God, that includes all of creation, not just humanity. In the book of Mark, also, Jesus "ministered to the wild animals" when he went out to the wilderness ...

  3. Mariandy: Thanks! Anonymous: Good point!