I grew up with dogs. My parents had an Irish terrier they purchased from a pet store about a year before I was born. Then, when I was seven or eight, they went completely 'round the bend and bought a Yorkshire terrier. For reasons unknown, my parents, who had always been very sane, decided to go into the dog business. They were going to breed, raise, show and sell these little rats with long hair. They even had a name for their kennel picked out: Yorktown Kennels. The business was an abject failure, mainly because my mother couldn't bear to part with any of her precious dogs, and also because my father had no patience for the constant grooming and upkeep those long coats require. We had yorkies out the wazoo until the last one, Bernard, finally choked on his Kibbles and Bits. This did not happen until several years after I became a married woman.
Five years ago we bought a kitten from a cat rescue group. We named her Phoebe. Two years later my husband surprised me --- a gross understatement --- with another cat, one he literally picked up off the street: a scruffy, skinny, dirty, flea-infested, ear mite-riddled tomcat with an eye searing stomach problem and fangs that made him look like a walrus. We named him Wallace. Somewhere along the way Wally lost his tomhood, but whether they fell off or what, I couldn't say.
If I was appalled, it was nothing compared to Phoebe's feelings. She was outraged. She promptly chased him behind the toilet and poor Wally lived back there until he finally called her bluff. The two of them eventually hammered out a truce of sorts. As my father used to say, our cats had a love/hate relationship; Wallace loved Phoebe and Phoebe hated Wallace. That pretty much summed it up.
My husband's rationale for acquiring this cat was that Phoebe needed some excitement in her life. Considering that Pheebs, like all cats, sleeps most of the day, an iron supplement, or maybe a line of cocaine, would have been an easier alternative. Anyhoos, one extra large litter box and one very happy vet later, Wallace blossomed into a really nice cat, all 16 pounds of him. Even his stomach problems went away...for the most part.
Granted, my experience with cats is fairly limited, but there is no doubt that Wally was one smart cookie. An Einstein of cats. Maybe living outdoors and having to fend for himself had something to do with it. He learned his name and came when called, a concept Phoebe still hasn't figured out. He taught himself to open doors, drawers and cupboards, a handy trick when he needed a place to hide during thunderstorms; he was terrified of them. His inquisitiveness would get him into trouble sometimes because as smart as he was, his thought processes only went so far...he was a cat, after all. Phoebe, who has never had an original thought in her life, would try to imitate --- badly --- anything he did.
So when we found Wally stretched out dead on the living room floor one night, barely more than a year after he came to live with us, we were all devastated. Even Phoebe missed him. She lost weight and took it upon herself to stake out his favorite spot by the fish tank, something she never did until he died.
We gradually adjusted to a life post-Wallace, but something was missing. My husband and I would occasionally look at cats available for adoption through rescue groups, but nothing clicked, as cute as they all were. And then when we least expected it, along came Penelope.
And that's a subject for another blog.
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