I love cats, I have always loved cats but my father was allergic. So I grew up with dogs.
- Sir Angus Winkie a black Scottish Terrier who got into trouble chasing skunks and coming out smelling to high heaven
- Honey Bun, a golden Sheltie was abandoned on the mountain pass and rescued by my older sister
- Lukka, my brother’s Malamute who loved my infant nephew
- Rowdy, a Norwegian Elk hound the only dog we got for Christmas, in a basket with a big red satin bow around his neck. Unfortunately he came to an untimely end
- Frostie, the neighbors’ Samoyed who spent most days in our front yard
- Blackie, a mutt who was banished after chewing the seat backs to my father’s kayak
- Grande Ronde Chuchi Belle and her son, Rowdy Boy, my father’s Siberian Huskies who pulled snow sleds and howled at the curfew horn every night at 9.45pm
- Barney, my sister’s rescue mutt who could change appearance depending on his newest hair cut, he loved joining the big dogs on their nightly singing
- Mr Peabody, a Bearded Collie rescue dog – my best dog friend ever! He would try to herd the children in the cul-de-sac, and loved to steal the basket ball during games of HORSE in the driveway. He had the Beardie Bounce and loved to chase cats. We would start out the night with him on the floor by my bed but I would wake up with my legs pinned to the bed…
Each of these dogs has a story, but that is for another time. I loved every dog we had or shared, but something was always missing.
In 1999 I moved to England, a world away from home and finally could have a cat! Stella Luna was white with yellow eyes, she loved to play tag by coming up behind me and slapping my foot. Each hit and run a surprise as I would respond by turning around to chase her through the flat. I never laughed so much in my life as I did with Stella Luna. She could jump to the top of an open door, balancing there until I walked by or was trying to sleep, sneak attacks were her forte. She loved strawberries and sitting on top of the kitchen curtain rod. Living in the centre of London was amazing but not safe to let her out of my upstairs flat. I became known as that eccentric American who walked her white cat on a red halter to the local park on Whitecross Street, often meeting the local fox in the dusk. I had to leave her behind when I moved up north which broke my heart. I heard she became the darling of the folks who adopted her.
My first cat up north was a grey tabby who lived in the neighbors’ garden across from the Heeley City Farm. Gertrude Grimalkin was partial to sleeping on my garden door step in the sun. Eventually she moved in and I couldn’t say no. She was feisty and stood her ground against much bigger cats. My upstairs neighbor complained that she was mean and bit him if he tried to pet her. Gertrude’s best cat friend was called Mog (with black & white tuxedo markings) by the staff in the Heeley City Farm Garden Centre. Mog was a wonky cat moving with a distinctive rolling gate because he was permanently disabled from being hit by a car. He never let the injury slow him down and ruled over the garden centre for many years. One snowy winter when the garden centre closed for 2 weeks, I agreed to feed him. He moved in, retiring to my warm flat and never went back to work!
In the spring of 2010 I was offered a tiny kitten with huge ears. I couldn’t resist. Black Jack is from a long line of Leamington Spa cats, his grandfather was a massive black short hair. Black Jack quickly grew into his ears and is seven years old now, solid black with bits of silver starting to show through and one white whisker. When Black Jack was about 4, I was given a gorgeous 4 year old black & white Maine Coon I called Peggy Sue. She was a force of nature who took over bossing both Mog and Black Jack, and me for that matter. Living across from the city farm she became a fixture of the Cafe’ and play ground. Evenings after work I would walk through the farm with Black Jack, Mog and Peggy Sue. She loved the school children and showing off her amazing fluffy tail to admirers of all ages. Knocking on the glass doors of the cafe’ was her way of reminding me to come home, making people laugh at her unusual antics. Sadly she was killed by a hit and run driver one morning three years ago, most shocking because it happened during the school run in our dead end street. She was mourned by everyone who knew her. Most especially my grandson who adored her. Not long after we lost Peggy Sue, Mog succumbed to cancer and so our household dwindled.
Three weeks ago we welcomed 18 month old Gypsy Rose, a Maine Coon/black short hair mix to our home. She already out weighs Black Jack and is giving him a run for his money. My grandson says she is half Peggy Sue and half Black Jack. Unlike Peggy Sue, Gypsy Rose lets him pet her. If you know anything about a Maine Coon you know they do not like to be picked up or held. My grandson complained she hurt his feelings because she would growl a warning to not touch. I never picked up Peggy Sue for long before she would begin a low rumbling growl. Gypsy Rose has that same trait and will be a challenge when it comes time to comb out the tangles. So now I have two cats in the yard…. life used to be so hard