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Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell

Ultimate Pet Lady

I haven’t always been a “cat lady”. In my youth, I had dogs as pets. The first one was Pete a beagle puppy who didn’t last long as a neighbor ran over and killed him. (Not of purpose, but it didn’t leave me eager for another pet.) Then, in my teens Lady, the collie showed up and adopted me. She was my constant guardian until I went away to college. Petless again, my next was a cat named Pusser. He and I did not get off to a good start as sometime before I had been attacked by a sensitive new mother cat defending her young. She was so intent on killing me she chased me across a bed and I ended up on top of a dresser trying to escape her wrath. I wasn’t totally successful and ended up in the emergency room with my shins scratched to ribbons.

Because my husband and son liked the cat, I made every effort to find peace. Pusser was a lovely marmalade with a sweet disposition, but I found my eyes swelling shut and gasping for air if I spent too much time around him. I took allergy shots and we eventually arrived at a place that was amenable for both of us.

After a wrenching divorce, I ended up in possession of Pusser and my son and I moved to Missouri so I could go to graduate school at the University of Arkansas. We lived across the street from my parents who strongly disapproved of any pets being inside the house. After finishing school, I got a job in Illinois and could not have a pet in my new apartment.

My parents agreed to adopt Pusser under the condition that he be strictly an outdoor cat. I moved to Illinois in September. When I came home for Thanksgiving, the cat was being fed in the kitchen as “other animals were stealing his food.” When I returned to visit at Christmas, Pusser was sitting on the arm of my Dad’s chair looking very smug.

My moves for jobs prevented any more pets until retirement. I announced that I wanted a dog. I had a toy poodle in mind, but my husband saw a West Highland Terrier at a shop in Branson and so we decided to find one. It took some doing as the nearest hobby breeder was in Oklahoma. We had to be interviewed and obtain the approval for the seller before we could come and pick up Brutus of McDonald and bring him home. He was a loveable terror of a terrier who would run away at the drop of a hat. At least he was good for our fitness. One night we were chasing him when I heard from the darkness “I’ve got your dog.” In a very deep voice. It sounded like the voice of God speaking to me. Slowly advancing, I came up on a young couple who were out for a walk and he had scooped up Brutus as he hurtled past.

Thinking that Brutus was lonely, we decided to adopt another Westie. At this interview, we took along Brutus’ baby book stuffed with photos of his idyllic life with us. Soon after, Bubba of McDonald joined our family. We had many happy years before the escape artists got out one cold February afternoon and Bubba was killed and Brutus seriously hurt by a pack of feral dogs. I waded Big Sugar creek for three days looking for Bubba or his body to no avail. Brutus survived.

Meanwhile, we had acquired our “Six hundred dollar” cat. To my amazement, my severe allergies had gone away and I no longer had itchy swollen eyes when around him. It is a long convoluted story about our acquisition of KatManDoo, but we took him to the vet for shots and neutering and he joined our family. Kat was not healthy and after treatments for cancer, had to be put down.

Again thinking Brutus needed company, we adopted a rescue dog we named Lucky. He was a coal black schnauzer and mysterious mix and quickly charmed his way into our hearts.

Brutus, Lucky and three cats we had acquired along the way (thanks to people dumping animals beside the road) moved with us to Minnesota in 2011. The past 7 years have seen much sorrow for pets. We first lost C.C. the cat, later at intervals, we lost Brutus, Little Yellow (officially named Oliver Saffron) and then Lucky passed of old age. I have wept buckets of tears at their passing.

Now I am a cat lady with only one cat. Busted (he had stripes as a baby, but lost them) is my one remaining pet. He is 15 years old not well now and I am sad at the thought of losing him, too. But once a cat lady, always a cat lady. I will soon find another boon companion to cuddle and pamper duties of an ultimate Cat Lady.

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