I've had pets all my life. My first cat, Tigress, was brought home by my dad when I was 2 or 3 years old. My dad found her at his job site, in a concrete block, with her brothers and sisters who had all frozen to death. Tigress was the only kitten still alive, and he took her home. Tigress was a silver and black tabby. I wanted to name her Tiger, but mom and dad told me she was a girl, so we picked Tigress.
I had Tigress until I was about 17. She lived a long time, but she developed a tumor in her tummy and could no longer eat and digest food. We had to put her down, and that was so very hard. She was my baby, we grew up together. My mom was broken hearted as was I when she passed. We did get other cats, one of which is still with my daddy, but I moved out soon after, so they were not my kitties!
I got George in 1996. Yeah, wow he's 13! The vet says he does not look a day over 6 though :-) I adopted him and his sister, litter mates, when they were about 8 months old. They had been left at the doorstep of the local vet on Christmas Eve, in a box. I only wanted one cat, but since he came with a sister, I decided to take both of them in.
Unfortunately, George's sister, Freddie, died when she was only 7 years old. She was always feral, dispite the fact that I raised her and she was always an indoor cat. The vet seemed to think that she died from a heart defect. I've had George checked for everything, and he seems fine, so we were hoping it was just Freddie. I miss my kitty... she was always so afraid of everything... but she loved being pet - as long as it was on her head! The day she died hit me hard. She had stopped using the litter box, and so I thought I had to 'retrain' her. I put her in a sunny room - it was her favorite room of the house, I try to take comfort from that - with her litter box, some water and some food, and closed the door. I went in to check on her several times, and saw that she had used the litter box, so I thought this was a good sign. I gave her some pets, and told her I'd see her later. I went out to lunch. Came back a few hours later to check on her, and she was under the bed, not moving. My kitty had passed all alone, and it broke my heart. Because of her feral nature, I could never get her to a vet unless I sedated her and I hated doing that. So I found her a vet that made housecalls. However, even when he would come over, we were unable to catch Freddie. I could never get her proper medical attention. And boy, I tried so very hard to do it. It still breaks my heart. (and I have no photos of her :-()
About a month after Freddie died, I decided I wanted to get another cat to keep George company, as he had never been an only cat and he seemed lonely. He was looking for his sister and crying for her. We spent a lot of time playing with him and keeping him company, but I felt bad, so Mike and I decided to check out the shelter near our home and see what we could find.
I wanted a kitten. I felt bad about that, as I know older cats have more trouble being adopted, but I had taken in so many adult cats in my life, that I felt it was ok for me to get a kitten, just this once. Well, the best laid plans and all that, because I ended up with something a little bit different - two cats!
When I walked into the shelter, I immediately spotted Bella, as she looked so much like Tigress, except that Tigress was grey, and Bella is more brown. I looked at her chart, and saw that she had spent half of her short life in a cage - 8 months! The cage was not very big either. I felt so bad for her. We picked her up, played with her, talked to her, pet her, and decided that she was coming home with us!
(That picture is from the 'cats' room - we ripped up the carpet and haven't replaced it yet The floor isn't dirty, its stained lol! We need to sand it down, previous owners just covered it up!)
But I still wanted that kitten. Mike, my love, said "Three cats is really not too many", and I will love him forever for that statement. Back to the shelter I went, on a mission to find my kitten.
The first thing I noticed this time, when I walked in, was the noise. A tiny little kitten in the corner, in a big old cage, all alone, was hanging on the bars and screaming his little head off. He wanted to be picked up, paid attention too, and all those people walking by his cage just ignorning him was not making him happy! I asked to see the kitten - he was 10 weeks old - so cute! I held him and he laid in my arms like a baby, just purring and looking up at me. I love cats that talk, and I knew Mike would love this kitty, so he came home with me too. We named him Lucius. We call him Lewy :-)
When we first got Lewy home, each night at bedtime, Mike would pick him up, put him on his shoulder like he was carrying an infant, and take him up to bed with us. Then Lewy would lay in the crook of my arm while I read, and when I was ready for sleep, he'd get under the blankets with us and snuggle behind his daddy's knees. Then he'd wake us up bright and early at 5am each morning for breakfast, by licking our lips lol. Gross! Imagine getting french kissed by a cat first thing in the morning! Thankfully that only lasted about a year, then he started to let us sleep, knowing that food would be coming soon!
Bella on the other hand, was anything but happy! I was actually afraid of her for the first few months lol. She would lay on the floor in the bathroom and attack when we walked by. I would have to get Mike up in the middle of the night to move her so I could use the bathroom. Fun times lol! Now she's my little snuggle bear though. Verbally abusive that one, but we know she loves us!
Of course through all this, much to my chagrin, George was unhappy. Turns out he loved being an only cat. Poor thing lol. He adjusted fast though and while he never came to 'love' his new brother and sister, he tolerated them well for his mommy.
It was at this time that we started to tak about buying a house. My husband had always had dogs all his life, and I wanted to give that a shot. We had an apartment though so it wasn't happening then. In 2005, we purchased this home out in PA, and moved the cats in in January 2006.
It was mid 2006 when we started to look at dog breeds. We saw an article in the paper about greyhounds, and we decided to look up the breed. Hmm, they didn't shed, they didn't bark, and they were lazy. Perfect for our lazy family lol. We began the quest to find our greyhound.
It took months for the group we used to find a dog for us. They didn't allow us to pick our own dog, but they took our list of requirements - large, male, cat friendly, young - and found us Datz. But it took so long that by the time they found him, we needed another month before we were ready for him - had to get a kennel, some beds, other supplies. He was at a great foster home so we knew he'd be ok, and we wanted to have everything perfect for him.
So off to the pet store we went. What a mistake that was lol. While we were there, Mike had to look at the kitties up for adoption. I was looking at dog toys, getting ready for Datz, when he approached me with tears in his eyes.
"Oh no", I thought.
"There's this little grey kitten over there, and she's so cute and friendly, I just feel so bad that she's in a cage, all she wants is love" he told me. I immediately said NO, we can't get another cat AND a dog. But I did as he asked and went to look at the kitten. She sure was cute. But man, 4 cats - that just seemed to be so many.
Two days later, it was Valentines day. Mike had been in tears on and off about this kitten. With a big sigh, and knowing that this would not go easily, I went and brought the kitten home for him. We named her Althea, and we call her Allie. She's our Allie Cat. Tiny, grey, precious. She's an angel in kitty fur, truely.
Now we were ready for Datz. We called the foster home and arranged for him to come to his forever home. I was so nervous. I would not allow Mike to take off his muzzel at all the entire first day, as I was sure he'd eat the kitties! George ran from him, Bella did too, Lewy and Allie ran TOWARDS him. They greeted him with love, and his big old tail wagged like crazy every time they came up to him. Soon, he and Allie were sharing his bed nightly. Allie loves Datzy so much. Lewy loves him too. Bella tolerates him well and George is just George lol.
Datz gave us such joy. Sure, it took about 4 months to get there, lots of sleepless nights while he whined and complained, asking to go out at the crack of dawn because he was still on track time. But we found a great trainer, and she helped us so much. I will never use the group I got Datz from again, as each time I called with questions, or to complain about something he was doing - the reply was always "Well we can come and get him at any time, you are not obligated to keep him" - no help, just that line each time. Very disappointing. They knew this was my first dog and I had no clue.
I love having Datz as a companion. He's my best buddy. My traveling companion, my walking buddy, my snuggle bear. He's my love, my heart, my friend. I felt blessed. I still do :-) It was about a year after we got Datz that we started to talk about a second dog. We wanted him to have a canine companion in the house. I felt bad that people were his only companion.
It was also at that time, that we started to discuss what we'd like to do eventually - have a pet shelter. We have plans to buy some room on the farm, and be able to do this one day. We want to rehabilitate pets that were abused, beaten, thrown away. This is our dream now... and one day it will happen.
So when we heard Zelda's story, it gripped us. Thrown away like garbage, beat, not ever fed, trained, loved, walked. She had her puppies taken from her as soon as they were born and then was kicked out like she was nothing to them. It broke our hearts, and while we were not completely ready for a second dog, we knew that we just had to take her, or her story would just continue in its sad way. A dog badly beaten as her is hard to find a family for because there are so many issues. We decided to take her in.
Its been a little over 2 months since Zelda came into our lives. Yeah there were some really hard times. The house training nearly broke me. The aggression she was showing towards Datz made me want to get rid of her. The chewing of my camera stuff was the nail in that coffin, but I gave her a chance - Something I am sure no other human has done for her. We called our trainer, and she came out to help us. And boy did she.
Zelda has not had an accident in the house in weeks. Since June 28th! She now Sits on command, and she begs for cookies - something she never did before! She no longer is a submissive pee-er, she meets people all the time now and no peepee at all! She is fitting in here quite well, and I think that Datz does like her company. She is teaching me a lot about being a dog owner, and a pack leader. More then Datz did. Datz is more... human then dog most times. I mean he is still a dog first and foremost, but he's so easy going that I never had to be that firm with him. Zelda I have to be a real leader with, and its hard. So I thank her for teaching me that.
I think that we are done for now lol. I pray that we are done for now! When I was working at the farm last week, Mike's cousin Steve approached me and asked me if I wanted another dog - he had found one on the mountain. No thank you, I was able to reply, with no bad feelings at all. I knew it would be a disservice to this dog to take him in, especially when I dont want another animal right now. We simply do not have room! This house is small... its big enough for all of us right now, but we just can't take in more animals while we are here. Soon though, we will have a house on the farm, and can live our dream of rehabilitating animals.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my crazy family of fur babies! And I wonder why my allergies are so much worse lately LOL!
By the way, our trainer just called to check up on our Princess. She is pleased to hear that she is doing so well! She said the housetraining took off because we built up her confidence and her begging for cookies shows that she's more confident and that she knows we are in charge. We have another session on August 9th and we are going to learn "Lay Down", "Heel", and a few others. We're also going to see if she or Datz has an interest in tracking! The trainer does tracking for my county - she's multi talented :-) I think it will be fun to do with the dogs!
Thanks for stopping by to see my ultra-long post about my pets! I love my animals!!