The Supposed Apotheosis of My Cat Rex

Story and art by Jason Tudor

Many pets have owned me or my family over the course of four decades. “Another mouth to feed” never stood in the way of a canine or feline sharing space in our homes.

So goes the story of Rex, a kitten found wedged between a whitewall tire and the quarter-panel of a neighbor’s car in the Azores. Truth be told, I wasn’t looking for a cat, but why let the rain pour on it. I took it in, fed it and eventually, it continued to stay at my place.

Forking out a few bucks to ship him, Rex made the military move with me when I went from the islands to the middle of Georgia. He and I shared space in the house I rented shortly before my wife arrived. As an indoor-outdoor cat, he had run of the grounds and I let him in at night so the place wasn’t pindrop quiet.

One day, he stopped showing up.

Then another. Then, another.

Rex split. I figured he found a larger bowl of food. So, when my wife did arrive and we moved into a new place, my only thought was, “Geez, I hope I don’t find him pancaked in the road." I never did. And for good reason.

A bit less than 11 months later, my wife and I were enjoying a Saturday at home when we heard meowing at the front door. I opened it. There was Rex. Now, keep these three things in mind:

-- The new house we rented was better than five miles from the old place.
-- We had new cats, new scents and a whole different footprint at the new place
-- Rex had gained 417 pounds

Well, not 417, perhaps, but it did look like he swallowed a bowling ball. Like some fat cat plantation owner, Rex rolled into the living room and looked up as if to say in his best Foghorn Leghorn voice, “Feed me boy, I say, I say, feed me before I let go on the carpet here.”

Actual jaw dropped, I did, in fact, feed him and welcome him home. His grey, furry blubbery mass found its way around the new place just fine. Rex didn’t mess with the two new cats; ignored them, in fact, as he wobbled around, going in and out again, doing his business. Three cats wasn’t exactly what we had in mind with a baby due, but six days in, we figured we would tolerate things and see how they went.

Then on the seventh day, Rex disappeared. And never came back.

There’s probably no lesson here. Cats are weird, distorted little bands of reality with jeweled collars and snide looks like the one’s Sarah Jessica Parker makes sneering at a bad pair of Manolo Blahnik’s through the smoke of a Marlboro Light 100. One person’s cat is another person’s sacred idol is another person plate of Szechuan cooking. Or something like that.

Go easy, Rex. And lay off the Mars bars.

Jason Tudor is a writer, illustrator and co-host of the weekly podcast “The Science Fiction Show,” available on iTunes. His short story, “The Lives That Magda Made,” can be found in the anthology “No Rest forthe Wicked” available on Amazon. He lives in Europe with his wife, daughter, two guinea pigs and one cat. More can be found at www.jasontudor.com.


The Black Cat

by Sara Spock

I used to have a cat named James. As in Taylor, Buffett, the band, and a guy from the 9th grade that I had a massive crush on. During the heart of Pennsylvania winter, complete with three-foot snow storms and temperatures below zero, I found him outside the science lab at my rural high school. Even then, I couldn’t resist the siren song of a science lab. As I gazed out the window, longing to go skiing, build a snow man, or throw an icy lump of something cold at Mr. Slenker, a cardboard box caught my eye. The box was lodged in a pile of snow next to the back entrance near the lunchroom. Whoever left it there must have thought someone would see it, but it was almost the end of the day and the box remained untouched.

Mr. Slenker, my earth-science teacher, melted his cold heart long enough to let me go out and see what was in the box. When I lifted it up, a mama cat and 5 babies were sitting in the snow beneath the box. Nestled in that frosty white snow, I saw James who was jet black with yellow eyes and no more than 6 weeks old. Right then, I did the stupidest thing a ninth grader ever did…at least on that day. As my teacher went back inside to alert the office, I tucked that tiny little kitten into my hoodie. I don’t know exactly who took the rest of the brood and the mama, but the school found homes for them very quickly.

When I went home, my parents weren’t happy about another pet. Or at least they wouldn’t have been, if I told them. Instead, I just kept James in my room, brought him to school with him, and snuggled his brains out as much as I could. After a month of hiding my new little black kitten, I asked my dad if I could have another cat. He said no, he could never deal with another cat in the house (we only had one other!) That’s when I pulled James out of my jacket and told him that it didn’t matter because he had already been dealing with another cat for more than a month. I was keeping him.

The look on my dad’s face was a mix between “Touché” and “Oh crap, what have I created?” But he let me keep him, and that’s the important part. James stayed with me for eight years, not bad for a preemie that lived outside and had a penchant for midnight brawls. He used to scale the brick walls of our house and bump his nose against the window until I’d open it to let him in. James liked to curl up on my head to sleep, bring me dead things, claw my fingers when we played, pull the lid off my fish tank, eat my goldfish, and meow loud enough to wake everyone. He also loved to crawl inside my jacket, even when he was a 10-pound cat, knead his kitten paws into me, nuzzle his little pink nose against my neck, and lick my cheek. He was my best friend and my sounding board for those horrible high school years. Where ever he is, I know it’s kitten heaven. Or he was reborn as my 13-month-old, who loves to love me as much as he loves to torment me.

~Sara Spock is a Mom, Wife, Penn State Graduate, Substitute Teacher, Freelance Writer, and Chocolate Addict.  When she’s not giving pets people names, Sara can be found over at The Hero Complex where she tries to save the world, one. recipe. at. a. time.


If You Give a Dog a Bone

by Melanie Hooyenga

The day I brought my dog Owen home from his mother’s side, I made up my mind that he would be well-behaved, lovable, and disciplined. I wouldn’t feed him table scraps, he would come when I called him, and he would never mistake my eyeglasses for his chew toys.

Let’s just say it’s lucky for him the lovable thing stuck.

He’s very smart and eager to please, so it’s easy to overlook any bad habits that I’ve been unable to train out of him—like jumping on people and greeting them with an open mouth. (What? Some people like that.) I never feed him from the table and he never gets processed foods, so when my dad had a leftover pork bone at a family dinner, we decided to reward Owen for all his hard work. (Those birds aren’t going to bark at themselves.)

“Just make sure to take it away from him once he eats the marrow,” my mother warned.


My boyfriend and I bestowed our gift to a wiggly, howling Owen, who promptly darted into the dark backyard to feast on greasy treat. We sipped beers on the deck until we heard the first splinter of bone.

“Good boy Owen. Bring it here,” I called.


I tip-toed through the grass, following the frenzied gnawing, but stopped two feet away when Owen lifted his haunches, his front paw wrapped tightly around the bone. He turned away, then scurried to the other side of the yard.

Cut to five minutes and twenty laps around the yard later with me squatting in the far end of the yard, facing Owen, who had his back to the house, where my BF was perched on the edge of the deck, ready to jump at my command.

Owen released the bone to catch his breath.

“NOW!” I shouted.

My BF leapt from the deck, landing inches from Owen, who shot ten feet away. The BF reached for the bone but Owen snarled and grabbed it first.

Ten minutes later Owen happily chewed the remains of the bone from the comfort of the living room chair. I’d say there’s a lesson to be learned here, but I’ll have to figure that out once I clean the grease stains from the chair.

Melanie Hooyenga is a graphic designer by day, and a newly-addicted Kinect player at night. She recently bought her first home and is chronicling her adventures in first-time home-ownership at Hoosblog. You can also follow her randomness at @melaniehoo, or follow Owen at SuperOwen.


Puppy Love

By Amy Mullis

One sticky summer morning, the kind of day that peaks at dawn when the dew begins to boil and all the oxygen seems to have been sucked out of the atmosphere by a giant turkey baster, the roofers came.  I was frolicking in the back yard with my new puppy playmate, Lucy, a mostly-Dachshund with baby lamb fleece fur and legs the size of paper clips.  Frolicking entailed throwing a ball and then trotting off to fetch it while Lucy watched from a shady spot under a stand of tall pines.

Two large trucks roared into the driveway, chewing up the pavement and spitting out gravel.  The door of the first truck creaked open and out rolled a man who should never wear horizontal stripes.  He scratched his expansive belly, flicked a cigarette aside, and pulled off a black and gold CAT hat to draw a sweaty forearm across his brow.

“We’re here to do your roof,” he drawled with the same tones he might use to announce he was here to organize a Hell’s Angels rally. “I expect we’ll finish up in a couple of days.”

“Fine,” I answered weakly, backing toward the door.  I reached to pick up Lucy who, as a general rule, is particularly demure around strangers, especially big, burly men who look as if they eat Dachshund biscuits for breakfast.  At that moment, however, the door to the second truck opened and deposited a handful of shirtless, sweaty, multi-tattooed bodies in the driveway.
Throughout the ages, stories have been told and gently retold of delicate girls who fell prey to the ravages of love when they gave their hearts freely to the wrong man.  Lucy was no different.  She flew across the yard on the wings of puppy love and propelled herself into the crowd.  All were silent for a moment.

“Is that a weasel?” one gentlemen asked, rubbing his belly.

“Naw,” answered his friend.  “It’s a chipmunk.  They’re all over the place around here.”
Blushing, I called Lucy.  I waved doggie treats.  She rolled onto her back, offering the opportunity for her new friends to stroke her fuzzy belly.
“Look at its feet.”  Harsh laughter.  “Looks like duck feet.”

"Her mother is a purebred Dachshund," I sniffed.

"Who's her daddy, Howard the Duck?"  The group guffawed in unison.

I haven’t seen a group this witty since open mike night down at the Texaco station.

For the next two and a half days Lucy was a roofer groupie.  She greeted them in the morning with wags and woofs.  At lunchtime she joyfully shared their lunch, munching on sandwich crusts and cold fries.  At night she watched them forlornly as they backed over my azaleas and down the drive.  She was a lone wolf about to be fleeced.  She was headed toward heartbreak.

On the third day, it happened.  One last belly rub, one last ear tousled, and the Marlboro men loaded up their spare shingles, hauled their Heinekins into the truck and drove away for good.  The truck jounced down the driveway like Model-T down a cobblestone road.  Lucy sat by the steps, ears drooping and tail at half mast.

It’s the same old story.  A good girl can try to change a bad boy, but he still turns out to be a dog.


To Pet or Not To Pet?

By Jennifer Caddell

My mom loved animals, which meant it was easy for me to have a few pets of my own. First it was a stray orange tabby kitten that I named Bobcat.  I found him when I was three and of course my mom couldn’t tell me ‘no’.  Bobcat lived for sixteen years.  He was mostly an outdoor cat, and a great pet.  He’d stop by the house around feeding time, and occasionally I’d let him sleep on my bed, which meant he slept on my pillow while biting my head. 

I also had two goldfish named Top Hat and Goldie. I cleaned their bowl for five years before they finally died.  Later I tried my hand with a rat.  Her name was Ardie and she was quite a deal.  For the price of one rat, I ended up with seven.  The babies were cute, so I kept one and named her Gizmo.  Although Ardie was a sweet rat, I think she must have run with the lab rat crowd because Gizmo was completely bonkers and never sat still for longer than two seconds.  The two of them lasted for two years and although I was sad when the last one bit the cheese, I was also happy to finally have a quiet room at night. 

Once I turned sixteen, I had other dreams besides owning my own car.  I also wanted a horse.  So I worked at a job to help pay for my car and the board and care of a gray Arabian mare. The horse was four years old and never broken.  Imagine for a moment – an inexperienced rider and an inexperienced hot-headed horse.  Yep.  I learned how to fall, but I also learned how to manage a large pet.  While most 16 year-olds living in San Diego were headed to Mexico for some underage drinking on the weekends, I was working my fanny off to pay for the upkeep of a horse, and any free-time I had was spent with her.  It was a great experience for a teen, but it was an experience that couldn’t last; the day came for me sell her when I needed to go away to college. 

I sold her to a nice couple, but I believe that started the downfall of my pet ownership days. Since my husband and I were married, we have tried fish, (that died within two months), a cat, (we only had for a year due to hubby’s allergies) a puppy, (she lasted a week. Surprise! I have pet allergies now!), and two chickens that only lasted a year after consuming almost my entire backyard.

With that kind of track record, it looks as though our pet days are over.  This is sad.  It is especially sad for our children since they haven’t had the experiences I had when I was a child.  While other children share pictures of their pet cat or dog to the classroom, my children share pictures of their pet bamboo plant that sits calmly on their dresser and a little plastic container filled with pill bugs. My eldest child often says, “A pet is a recipe for a healthy family.”  I receive daily data about the benefits of pet ownership, complete with cute crayon pictures.  But then I think of all the traveling and vacations we take, and I just shake my head.  Of course, those big blue eyes looking hopeful are very hard to resist.

Ok, perhaps we can try a fish.

Jennifer Caddell lives in the green wonderland of the Pacific Northwest with her fabulous husband, two adorable children, and three pill bugs. She enjoys writing science fiction, and dabbles in short stories in any genre.


Sweeter by the Half Dozen

by Terri Coop

I was raised a cat person. However, in one instant, I was permanently transformed into a dog lover.

The time:  February 2001.

The place:  Just outside of Stillwater Oklahoma.

The catalyst:  A near perfect faceplant on the dashboard.

That last part is because my then husband had slammed on the brakes to make a 90-degree right turn at a hand-painted sign reading "CHIHUAUHAS." (Yes, you are reading incorrectly.)

When that grizzled old man put that little black and tan bundle into Noah's hands, my first words were,
"I'll get the checkbook."

He wanted a Chihuahua pup so much! No five-year old had ever promised more solemnly to take care of his dog. Being feline-oriented myself, I was skeptical. Now, I was smitten. Charlie had found a home. 

Fast forward to 2004. Noah had arranged with a breeder to have Charlie, um, ya know, serviced. Very soon, she lost her girlish figure and we knew puppies were on the way. No royal heir was more heavily anticipated than this litter. Noah read every book on Chi puppy care under the sun. On the appointed day, at ten in the morning, Charlie's temperature rose the fateful one degree. It was time.


Not a thing happened. For the next twelve hours we stared at her while she stared back wondering what she had done wrong. Finally, around midnight she started pacing and fussing. Suddenly, Noah remembered the camera was in the workshop and ran to fetch it. While he was gone, Charlie gave a little yelp, did half a backflip, and there was a puppy.  She and I stared at each other . . . both absolutely clueless.

We were still staring when Noah rushed back with the camera. Doggie doctor to the rescue. I held the mouse-sized pup while he tied the cord and then I cut it. Repeat three more times. We had four pups. Nestling them under Charlie, we thought four was a nice litter.

Then she began panting and fidgeting. Fifteen minutes later, to our consternation, we had six perfect wriggling black baby doggies. Pretty much unheard of in Chihuahuas, single and twin births are more common. 

The next twelve weeks were a joy as the little ones grew and thrived. I put away the good quilt and let them frolic and puppy-pee. We loved them while being careful not to hug the stuffings right out of them. Noah built an indoor pen and patiently weaned them on a gruel we called "smoosh." Once weaned though, pen cleaning became a lot less fun. One day, after changing the papers for the fourth time since dawn, he looked up and said, "run the ad." It was time our babies found their forever homes. 

Just in case you're curious:

1.  Pixie Willow went home with a female couple that brought a rhinestone collar and leash for her. 

2.  Fuzzy Bear was for a little boy whose father was shipping out to Iraq. 

3. Scruffy is my beloved pet and best friend. 

4. Lacey filled the hearts of a single mom and son who had recently lost their dog. 

5. Dobie went to an adorable young newlywed couple. 

6. Blaze became a companion to a wheelchair bound elderly lady.
Puppies rule.


Tilly the Wonder Dog, Part Deux

by Steve Barber

A while back the nice Erma ladies took pity on me and let me post something here about Tilly the Wonder Dog, my new Australian Shepherd. Well, Hunny and I have learned a few things about her since then so it's time to update.

First of all, Tilly isn't exactly an Australian Shepherd. What she is is an Australian Cattle dog. Big difference. The Shepherds aren't really Australian. The Cattle Dogs are by virtue of their Dingo ancestry. And as I'm sure you know, Dinogos are wild dogs that would just as soon eat your face off as shake your paw.

If you missed my original Tilly post (and shame on you if you did) you might remember Hunny and I adopted her from the Huron Valley Humane Society. She'd originally been in a kill shelter in Tennessee, but the good folks at PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin' ® moved her along with several of her closest friends to the Ann Arbor facility, which has an excellent placement record. They wormed her, neutered her and removed two broken teeth. I imagine it must have been a pretty traumatic time for a dog who'd been surrendered by her original family to have to suffer the indignities of shelter life and veterinary medicine. But she came through it with flying colors. In fact, the only residual problem is that her missing teeth cause her to bark with a lisp--more like an “Arfth” than a real bark. But it doesn't seem to bother her as long as we don't laugh about it in front of her, so it's all good.

Tilly's had some...issues. A two year old dog, she'd never been housebroken. We're still working on it, but it's getting better. She had no training in even simple doggie tricks like sit, stay, sit up or  keep out of my garbage. And she suffers from a terrible separation anxiety problem when she's left alone. Hunny had just the answer. “We'll take her to puppy obedience school,” she said.

“But she's not a puppy. And she's not obedient. You'll be wasting your money,” I said.

“My money? Nuh-uh. Your money. I've already spent enough on her.”

She was right. What could I say? So off we went to doggie school.

Six weeks of intensive training later, Tilly had learned to sit on command most of the time. Okay, some of the time. But you have to understand, she learned that skill in a hostile environment. She does not like other dogs, and she had three dog classmates.  So it was pretty amazing for her to learn anything while she was paying more attention to their unprotected soft underbellies than she was her lessons.

The training program offered a cap and gown ceremony too. If you check out the picture above, you can see the obvious pride in Tilly's eyes as they awarded her her diploma. That this picture was taken mere moments before Tilly lunged for the throat of the huge Labradoodle a few feet away makes it all the more meaningful to us.

Hunny's hired her own Doggie Whisperer now in hopes of building off of that progress. Check back next time and we'll see if Hunny's Cesar has been able to help Tilly cross her personal Rubicon.

Steve Barber lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Hunny and Tilly the Wonder Dog. When he's not writing he spends his time applying antiseptic to the cuts, scrapes scratches and bites visited on his person by his new, favorite dog. He recognizes now that ten years is too long to be “between dogs,” and urges everyone to visit their local shelter first thing tomorrow. Look for Steve's short story, Arkie Studabaker's Very Bad Day in No Rest for the Wicked, a Rainstorm Press anthology, available, like, now.


Who Could Resist This Face?

by Carol Lee

Mr. Vagabond and I have two dogs. Sinner, our 12-year-old Chow mix, is smart as a whip, dainty as a daisy and communicates in people-speak as if its her first language. Her breath could drop you like a flamethrower, but her other traits make up for it. Gypsy, our 3-year-old Lab / Golden Retriever mix, is just like Sinner. Only opposite. There is hardly a day when we don’t question our rapidly deteriorating sanity since Gypsy joined our family. Sinner lives with the eternal hope that Gypsy is here on an in-home trial basis and will be heading back to the shelter any day now. Sorry, Sinner. You just can’t pick your family, and for all the broken glass and tipped over trash cans, Gypsy is family. 

Gypsy was snuggly baby at the shelter. That changed day we brought her home, after the vet tattooed her belly, installed and activated a LoJack chip and deactivated her girly bits. The ungodly howls and desperate attempts to claw herself free from her captors on the drive home should have warned us, but we were optimistic. That, or the puppy breath had already taken effect. It’s a little known fact that puppy breath is a mind-altering substance that causes otherwise rational adults to spend $20 on an indestructible rubber ball and say things like, “Awwww.  Who’s the puppiest widdle puppy in the whole wide puppy?” I have done both. And the indestructible ball wasn’t.

Gypsy carves a path of destruction everywhere she goes. She lumbers about at a lithe 80 pounds, and her beautiful feathered tail can knock a glass of Pepsi off a table from across the room. I’d never had a dog who was a digger before, but Doodlebug (one of her nicknames) goes headlong into the dirt so deep the only thing visible is her fluffy tail wagging as dirt flies out of the hole in all directions. She’s destroyed three pairs of my glasses (one of which I found buried in the backyard), countless right-foot flip flops, rooms full of drywall, baseboards, the back steps... and my sectional. Well, it used to be a sectional. Let me know if you’re in the market for a bunch of left-foot flip flops.

With all of her quirks, I think the biggest one is how vocal Gypsy is. I have never seen or heard a dog make the broad assortment of sounds that she does. We almost named her Siren.

She’s not growling at me. Honestly. She’s just talking. She does that a lot.

Although I have taken her sweet face into my hands and calmly said, “Please let me like you,” and considering her flea allergy makes her a very expensive family member, you might think Sinner’s wish to be an only dog again might be fulfilled. But, no. Gypsy is our baby, too. She’s family as much as Sinner. We might go broke and crazy in the process, but we’re in this for the long haul. Everyone tells us that larger dogs usually settle down at the age of three. If not, at least flip flops are cheap, and we have good vision insurance. I could use the number of a good upholsterer, though.



by Bill Mullis


Maybelline was a tabby cat,
A tabby cat was she;
With a stripey, speckled, charcoal coat,
And green eyes like the sea —
The Carolina coast, that is,
Not Caribbean blue —
That gazed upon the world around
With full impunity.

Maybelline was a quiet cat,
A silent cat in fact.
I ne’er before nor since have heard
Such quietude and tact.
No purrs, no rowrs, no sad meows,
And not a single mew —
The world not worthy of her voice,
And so her voice it lacked.

Maybelline was a tricksy cat,
The evidence abounds.
When coming home I never knew
Just where she would be found.
Up on the lamp, or in the door,
Once in the Fridgidaire;
And on the stage as Jones the Cat,
She brought the whole house down.

Maybelline was an easy cat,
As freely I’ll attest.
Her dining needs were almost nil,
And easy to digest.
Not from a can, not from a bag,
No carcass on the stair;
The cheapest cat I ever knew
Which makes her — yes — the best.

Maybelline was a cardboard cat,
I say it without guile.
She never made my roommate sneeze,
Nor practiced self-denial.
The perfect pet, the perfect cat,
And not a whit of care!
She stood and watched and ne’er complained,
And never lost her smile.

But now I’ve had my share of cats
Of bloody tooth and claws.
And I have loved and cared for all,
With all their quirks and flaws.
I’ve scooped the poop and popped the top;
I’ve had their cross to bear.
And what I want is a Maybelline,
A cardboard cat of cause.


Duck, Duck, Shoes

By Janna Qualman

I was all set to write about ducks, because just look at these guys. Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Dave. (Dave says, “What’re you lookin’ at?”) They’re adorable, right?

I was going to tell you they have a sort of peace about them. And that their personalities are hilarious. And that they poo a lot. Which is noteworthy, should you decide to run to the nearest farm supply and scoop one up in your hands, and take it to your lovely home.

Anyway, I went to bed last night thinking about ducks, all feathery and fine, but I woke up thinking about Chucks*. Blue suede, One Star Chucks**. I had a pair I loved in high school. All leathery and fine, actually. And now that’s what’s on my mind.

Image credit: paulprescott72 / 123RF Stock Photo

Ducks and Chucks, you know? Like a duck wearing Chucks. Or a duck using a Chuck as a boat to float in. Chucks with ducks on them. Chucks whose toe looks like a duck’s no—um, bill. Chucks that are duck-yellow, or soft as feathers. Chucks made from feathers! Ducks dressed in leather. Leather Chucks. Ducks in bad weather. Chucks in bad weather. Ducks that quack or ducks that are quiet. Chucks that are quiet. They are sneakers. Sneaking up on a duck and yelling, “CHUUUUUCK!” That would be so funny.

Wait, what were we talking about again?

*True story. Isn’t a mind a puzzle sometimes?
**I think this particular style from the shoe line isn’t really called a Chuck, but you know, ducks and Converse don’t even rhyme.

Janna Qualman is a writer mama who likes to write and be a mama, and do lots of other great stuff.


An UnPETurbed Household

By Kathy Tirrell

You won’t find any pets in my house. (Unless you count the spiders that creep, crawl and drop down on us from time to time.)

But otherwise, no creatures dwell in my house. (Unless you count my husband when he’s paying the bills. Now that is a creature you DON’T want to cross paths with. Ever!)

So why no pets, you ask?  Well, to answer this question we shall have to travel back in time.

The place: Mom & Dad’s house
The time:  the late 60s
My parents reluctantly allowed us to have our first pet. He was a tiger cat we named Tycoon. (Coat like a tiger’s, tail like a raccoon’s) My mother didn’t like the idea of cat hair, fleas, and scratched furniture, so Tycoon was an outdoors cat for the most part.  Eventually Mom and Dad softened a bit and started allowing him inside.  All was well until that fateful day my mother caught him up on the kitchen table scarfing down her freshly baked salmon loaf.  You never saw a cat fly through the air so fast!  My mother chased him off with a broom (and some choice four-letter words) and that cat raced out the back door and was never seen again!

The place: Mom & Dad’s house
The time:  the early 70s
A neighbor came to our door bearing a basket of kittens. Oh so cute, who could resist? We picked a little gray one and named him Dusty. Or at least we thought it was a him.  Yup, right up until the time Dusty went missing.  Now where could he be?  Though he was an indoor cat, we couldn’t find him in any of his usual spots. Until one day when my dad was down in his workshop and heard some very faint meowing. Investigating further, he peered down into a deep box filled with blankets and discovered Dusty lying there with her new little kittens. When my sisters and I heard the news, we were delighted! My parents were not. So one day while we were all at school, they shipped Dusty and company off to the SPCA.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

The place: Mom & Dad’s house
The time:  the mid-70s
Next up was Carrots, the cat.  Orange in color, my mom thought the name very appropriate. This cat was allowed to run amok in our house.  He was a well-loved, healthy pet until that fateful day my dad accidentally backed his car out of the garage over Carrot’s tail.   The poor kitty had to be rushed to the animal hospital for surgery. My mother put the charges on her credit card since Carrots had neglected to buy health insurance.  The brave little guy survived the surgery but lived the rest of his life without a tail.  He looked a little odd, but he managed just fine.

Still, going through all this emotional turmoil taught me what a huge responsibility it is to be a pet owner. I don’t feel qualified for the job, but I applaud those who do it and do it well.

Now, excuse me, I’m hearing some high-pitched noises.  I think the bill-paying creature got out of his cage.

Kathy Tirrell shares more of her musings on It Bloggles theMind.


Reality of Pet Proportions

By Tricia Gillespie

My dog is many things:

She is a pain in my rear – BIG pain.

She is a food thief.

She is a laundry lifter.

She is a mailman hater.

She is a butt-sniffing, shoe-biting, smelly beast.

She is a climb-up-into-your-lap-and-throw-her-arms-around-your-neck-for-a-kiss kind of dog.

But the thing that really bothers me…

The thing that requires intervention…

The thing that makes me scratch my head in wonder…

The thing I’m most ashamed to admit…

My dog is a HOARDER.

I didn’t think you would believe me, so I attempted to photograph her kennel, the ‘box’ as we call it; however, shame overwhelmed me.  I’d rather show you a picture of my son’s room on a bad day in the dark month of May.  I’d rather show you an up-close-and-personal photograph of the backseat of my car in all its crushed cracker, mud-laden, trash-drifted glory.  I’m sad to think I’ve allowed a member of my family to get so out of control, become so compulsive, live in such disarray, but I’m obviously a mommy failure of pet proportions.

At this moment Oriona the hoarder has the remains of a full roll of toilet paper, a package of once-unused coffee filters, a knit winter cap, two logs, one glove, and an assortment of unidentifiable objects that I presume are garbage. Oh, let us not forget the scarf that I crocheted in a moment of creative passion after reading an issue of Martha Stewart Living.  That’s in there too, but it is dead.

My Dog The Hoarder will air Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. on TLC, Eastern Standard Time.

See you then.

Bio:  Tricia Gillespie, the pet enabler, lives on The Domestic Fringe with her husband, two kids, one fish, and a lizard.  She has fond memories of her loveable trash-collecting dog, Oriana.  Unfortunately, due to extreme health issues in her family, the dog is now hoarding in another family’s home.  She writes about her adventures in life on her blog, thedomesticfringe.com.  Come visit and find out what Hot Shot the Fish and Slippy the Lizard are doing these days.  And, she’s only kidding about the TLC special. 



by Lisa Dovichi

It's a known fact that cats hate water.


Well, mostly, but there is always an exception to the rule. And then there was Mr. FlufferNutters. A twenty-three pound Maine Coon who didn't just like water. He lurved it.

You could not run water. Period.

That cat would streak through sprinklers; hop into a shower; cannonball into a bath; pounce into a sink; jump into the washer; kamikaze dive into a toilet. If it was a container filled with water, Mr. FlufferNutters would find some way to contort and fit his massive body into it. I kid you not, it was a match of speed to use the toilet. Sometimes we'd win and sometimes we'd be knocking on the neighbors' doors to use theirs. Trust me when I tell you that you never want to make a twenty-three pound fluff ball of teeth and claws angry by trying to remove him from his water.

He could and would share if the water source was big enough. There were many a baths interrupted when he'd come in from outside and realize where I was. There's nothing like eau de cat bathwater to make you go for a shower afterwards, let me tell you. And nothing like the looks on neighbors' faces when you show up at their door wrapped in a towel, asking to use their shower. You did NOT drain the tub before his majesty was ready.

If we hadn't already built Mr. FlufferNutters a rep with all the trips to the neighbors he'd really have gained infamy when a neighbor tried to chase him off his lawn with a garden hose. The disbelief on the neighbor's face when Mr. FlufferNutters stopped, dropped, and rolled around under the deluge of water, purring, was priceless. The cul-de-sac still reminisces about that to this day.

It was theorized that maybe Mr. FlufferNutters thought he was a catfish. It's hard to say what went on in that kooky cat's head but I know one thing. He was the best cat I'd ever had and even now, when I take a relaxing soak in the tub with candles and a good book I miss the heavy thudding of his paws as he ran hell bent across the tiles to launch his mass into the tub and have a relaxing soak too.

Lisa lives in Livermore, CA with her husband, three children, and Jack the Beta fish. She works from home as an artist and web designer. In her dwindling spare time she changes diapers, experiments with food, crochets, and watches bad movies on Monday night with her husband. To get more Lisa visit: www.meltingbeforeyoureyes.blogspot.com.