Friday, April 18, 2008

 

In Which We Review The Catalog of Cats...


So, there's this cat that's hanging around our back yard these days. In our neighborhood, there's any number of cats, but almost none of them frequent our yard, so I think this fellow must be lost or was abandoned up at the truck stop (which is actually a few miles away, but the bike path that winds through our neighborhood goes right by it, and it's an easy path for strays to follow). The Brownie claims he was up on the roof, looking in her window early one morning.

"I think he likes me," she said to me one afternoon this week. "I think he's lonely and he wants someone to take care of him." That's my daughter, subtle as a brick.

I pretended to be oblivious to the hints she was dropping like lead weights on my head, but the truth is I've been thinking about that cat all week, feeling the turn of those old familiar gears of compassion greased by pity.

I've heard it said that people are either dog-people or cat-people, but I don't believe it, certainly not in my case. While it's true I have only a dog right now, I'm actually rather fond of cats. Which is odd, considering I've already had enough of them in my life to be sick of them forever.

In fact, my first real pet--not counting a disastrous early attempt to keep turtles--was a cat. He was one of two orange tabby kittens we kept when my parents' old cat, Henrietta, had a litter under my parents' bed. Henrietta and the bulk of her brood went off to live with my grandfather after that, but my parents--no doubt because of my brother's and my own special brand of subtle hint-dropping--allowed us each to pick a kitten. My brother chose a feisty one that he named Stanley. I chose a rather lazy looking specimen that I named Arthur.

In hindsight, I realize now that I was too young to have a cat. I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6. I was too rough and quite unable to keep my hands off Arthur, who went in short order from a lazy, genial cat to a hissing monster who generally stayed under the sofa all day, except for brief intervals when he would see my ankles move past his line of vision. Whereupon he'd reach out and give me a good cuff.

Stanley, meanwhile, turned out to be a very sweet cat indeed. He never seemed to mind me, no matter how much I carried him around by his tail or the scruff of his neck. I tried to get my Big Brother to trade with me, but he wisely refused.

It was a moot point anyway, because in less than a year, both cats were gone.

Arthur just ran away one day, and I can't say that I blame him. Not too long after his departure, I began seeing the 9 Lives cat food commercial with their star, Morris the Cat, and was convinced for a long time that it was Arthur, run away to Hollywood to make his fortune.

Stanley, though...we know what happened to Stanley.

We had just come home from a weekend visiting my grandparents down in Boston, and when he heard our car pull in the driveway, Stanley came running to greet us. Both he and Arthur were outdoor cats--my Dad grew up on a farm and wouldn't have had it any other way--and so they'd been left to their own devices all weekend.

We could hear Stanley as he came pelting through the woods on the other side of the road from our house. I caught a brief glimpse of orange fur as he leapt from the stone fence on that side, then hopped into the street.

None of us saw the green Volkswagen until it was far too late.

The bastard was going way too fast down the little country road that ran by our house. I'm pretty sure he never even saw Stanley. I hope so, because the only other explanation is that prick just hit our cat and kept going.

I don't remember much of the actual impact, although it happened right in front of me. I do remember my dad swearing a storm at the driver and yelling at my mom to take us into the house. I assumed he just didn't want us to see what a mess our beloved cat had become, but later I found out that Stanley had survived the accident. My Dad could tell at a glance that there was no way he'd live much longer, and rather than let him suffer, he wanted to put Stanley out of his misery as quickly as he could, but obviously didn't want us to see him do it.

We buried Stanley in the back yard and that was it for cats--for pets of any kind--in our house for a long while.

But then, long about the time we were living in that haunted farmhouse in southern New Jersey, we suddenly became a magnet for stray cats. I say "we," but it was mostly my mom and me. At first it was just one, but then we found another. And another. And still another. I went off to college, my parents moved back to New Hampshire, and still the cats came. For my mom, I think it became some kind of strange midlife, empty-nest thing--she became physically and mentally incapable of refusing shelter to any cat. How many ended up living with my parents? I stopped counting at 15, when the number of felines in the house outnumbered the human occupants by a factor of 3 to 1. I told my mom she was in danger of becoming a living cliché--the mad Cat Lady in the old house in the woods of New England--but it didn't stop her. I moved out, but every time I came home, there was a new cat.

When I brought Her Lovely Self home to meet my parents, I tried to prepare her for the reality of a house where cats sat on every surface, dangled from every rafter, filled the house with their pungent aroma. She was as appalled as I was, and I don't think it's telling tales out of school to say the cat population was a big reason in our decision to visit as seldom as possible. For one thing, I had by my early 20s developed such severe allergies and asthma around cats that I couldn't stay a single night in my parents' house without regular infusions of Benadryl. But the bigger reason was that it just grossed Her Lovely Self out. And she wasn't the only one. My dad and BB had long ago gotten sick of cats underfoot, cats jumping up on the table while they tried to eat, cats eyeing them from the bathroom counter as BB or my Dad engaged in his morning sitdown ("You try pinching a loaf when you got a cat givin' you the stink eye," my dad famously remarked. "I'd have an easier time pushing a salami through a garden hose, by Gorry.")

But my brother and father let my mom have her way, and you would to if you'd ever met her. She was a force of nature, with an imperious will, and let their complaints--mine too--just wash right over her. "What do you expect me to do?" she'd demand, if one of us ranted a little too long about it. "I should just turn them out into the wild?" Because that was the other thing: she'd taken to keeping them all indoors. Imagine 18 cats (I lied before--that was the number at which I really stopped counting) in a 1,700-square-foot house. They were quite squirrelly by then, having been boxed up for so long. But my mom seemed to take no notice that her cats were slowly going round the bend, no doubt because she had too. "Each one of them is like a little person," she'd insist.

Well, I guess she was right there, because I remember something special about each one of them, although what I remember is probably not what she would have recalled. At this point, it's best if we move along via a series of brief character sketches:

Tigre: He was a big silver Tabby who appeared out of a snowy January morning and let himself into our house as I was bringing in firewood. We had two dogs by then, feisty little ones that would bark at grown men and take on dogs twice their size. But when this gigantic tom sauntered in and ate every last bit of food in both their bowls, then sprayed one of their doggie beds with a foul, acrid urine, they just stood by and let him do it. Tigre ruled the roost for two years, until he, like Stanley, was hit by a car. It broke his leg and hip, which cost a lot to set, but my mom unhesitatingly put up more than a thousand dollars for the operation to set and pin the bones (that should have been our first sign that cats were going to be trouble for my mom). And it was all for nothing. A month later, Tigre developed a severe bladder infection that turned into uremic poisoning, and he had to be put down. But by then, the damage was done, because we already had...

Octavia: I found her January 8th (hence her name) in a Dumpster behind the kindergarten building at my school, during afternoon recess. She was a white kitten with two black spots, practically feral, but so small and cold and sick that she could barely move. One of the class bullies, Frank Oger, saw me trying to make a little shelter out of a box and my school scarf so she'd be safe from the biting winter wind. Frank was a cruel little prick, and spent the afternoon in class making remarks about how, at the end of the day, he was going out to the Dumpster to stomp on the kitten and put her out of her misery. In hindsight, I suspect he said this more to egg me on than anything else, but I wasn't going to take any chances. During a free period, I went to the head of the Safety Patrol and asked if I could be put on fire escape duty when the final bell rang. Safety Patrol members got to get out of class 10 minutes early to position themselves at various stairwells and exits from the school to make sure no one pushed or fought as all the kids left for the day. As an 8th grader, I normally had a warm, cushy spot in an inside hallway--no one wanted to watch the outside entrances on such a cold day, and so I had no problem trading with a lower classman for the spot. As soon as I got outside, I ran for the Dumpster, found the kitten, stuffed her in an inside pocket and ran back. As he came out, Frank Oger gave me a leer and brushed by me, heading for the Dumpster. He looked around for a few minutes, but it was perishing cold, and so he gave up. He looked at me, standing there with my hands in my pockets, wishing death a thousand times over on him. "Well, maybe tomorrow I'll get that kitten," he called, then loped off for home. Not tomorrow. Not ever, you fuckhead, I thought, my hand curled protectively around the kitten. I smuggled her home on the bus and when Mom saw her, she declared the little handful of fur was too sick and cold to survive. But Octavia, who grew to be the fattest of cats, lived to the ripe old age of 21.

Ebony: I had almost forgotten Ebony's real name. My mom called him that because he was, of course, an all-black cat who we found on yet another winter day, curled up in an old bucket in one of the back sheds of our house. He was a very amiable, friendly cat. But however nice he was to us, he absolutely adored my Big Brother and followed BB everywhere when he came home from college for winter break. BB was around 20 at the time, and just starting to get a bald spot on the crown of his head. I was quite taken with that bald spot, and took to sneaking up behind BB and rubbing it whenever I could. I wasn't the only one. Early one morning, I was awakened by screaming and swearing and went to see what was the matter. Ebony had a habit of climbing up onto our beds and sleeping with us--all the cats did. But Ebony, so friendly, always came up to me at the head of the bed and, purring all the while, would bump his head gently against mine, rubbing a little bit on me, in that charming way that cats will, before retiring to the foot of the bed to sleep. Well, while BB was asleep, Ebony jumped up and started rubbing his head against BB's, too. It's just that, with my brother, Ebony used a different head, if you know what I mean. Thus it was that, as I peered in the doorway of my brother's room, I beheld a startling sight. BB was sitting straight up in bed, screaming and waving his hands. And with good reason: Ebony was hanging onto the back of BB's head, claws sunk into either side, and was, um, pleasuring himself against the bald spot. "Get him off! Get him off! He's humping my head! He's HUMPING MY HEEEEEEEAAAAAAADDDD!!!!" BB screamed. Unperturbed, Ebony--who was getting off, after all--now made a noise somewhere between a purr and a battle with a hairball, and continued thrusting his way to resolution, then jumped away and ran like hell, leaving poor BB frozen, one ear bleeding, hands in the air, unable (and unwilling) to feel around and check the condition of his head (which, if I had to describe in two words, those words would be slightly moist). Thereafter, BB slept with the door closed, and even though we got him neutered and cured him of his habit (the cat, I mean, not BB) my brother forever after insisted on calling Ebony "The Headfucker."

Lazy: Considering his poor relations with cats to date, it was ironic that BB should be the one to find Lazy. He found her at the Berlin Farmer's Market one hot Saturday just before he left for college. The market was a combination of flea market-type outdoor stalls and semi-permanent indoor shops that sold everything from fresh produce to comic books to clothes. BB was in the discount denim shop, trying on jeans, when he heard screaming from the fitting room next door. He peered over his door in time to see a young woman hop out of her room, clad in only panties and a blouse that she was clutching over her naked breasts. She was screaming that a giant rat was loose in her room. Ever the gallant gentleman, BB immediately volunteered his services and went into the woman's fitting room. He looked on the floor and under the little seat that had been nailed to the wall, but couldn't see anything. Then he noticed something stirring in the pile of clothes on the seat. He snatched at the clothing and came up with the woman's brassiere. A small creature tumbled out of one of the cups and into his hands. Instantly, BB saw it was no rat, but a black-brown furred, half-starved kitten, which had evidently slipped through a crack in the floorboards below. Then he heard more shrieking behind him, this time accompanied by cries of "Pervert!" and turned to see the woman and several store personnel frowning at him in the doorway. They only saw the bra; they didn't see what he had in his other hand. The first I knew of it, I was about five stores down at the bargain bookstore, rummaging through stacks of comics, when BB appeared next to me wearing a brand-new pair of jeans--fly unzipped, tags still on--and standing in his socks, holding his shoes, his belt, and his old jeans all in one hand. His other hand was behind his back. "What happened to you?" I asked. He handed me his clothes and smiled. "Aw, just got a little pussy in the dressing room," he said, then laughed raucously at his own humor.

Spot: Perhaps my favorite of all the many cats who lived with us, Spot's tenure started as a case of mistaken identity. A friend had just dropped me off late one frigid night after a long rehearsal for the high-school musical. As I walked up to the door of my house, I saw a black cat jump from out of the darkness and onto the porch steps. It took one look at me, then retreated to the shadows. I thought it was Ebony and that he had somehow snuck out of the house, so I squatted down and called to him, making smoochy noises and patting my leg. Instantly the cat hurtled out of the darkness and jumped into my arms. I realized that she--for so she was female--was much lighter and shorter-haired than Ebony. Also, Ebony was all black, whereas this cat had one single white spot on her throat. She was freezing cold, and practically hugged herself to me. As I held her, she climbed up on my shoulders--it would come to be her favorite perch whenever I was around--then squirmed her way down through the neck of my parka. I brought her into the house. Instantly, Octavia, Ebony, and Lazy crowded me, smelling the newcomer. My mom, ironically, hollered and swore when I opened my coat and Spot hopped out. But within moments she was won over by this cat's irresistible charm. We all were. Spot just had this very animated, almost human way about her. Unlike the others, Spot refused to be cooped up indoors. She was a veritable Houdini, always finding ways to sneak out, and so eventually we let her come and go as she pleased. She was a great hunter--in spring and summer it was rare not to step out on the porch for the paper and find the remains of some tiny varmint--usually it was just a pair of tiny feet and a gallbladder--left on the mat as a gift to us, her people. Spot lived a good 16 years, but like Stanley and Tigre, she too got hit by a car.

Seemore: This silver tabby was another Dumpster cat, rescued this time by my brother, who found him as an ungainly kitten with huge paws stumbling around behind the kitchen at the resort where BB worked. "You better not trying fucking my head, cat," BB said, then scooped up the kitten and brought him home. We deliberately misspelled his name. We traveled a lot as a family--and boy, was that ever a circus, trying to get four (now five) cats and two dogs loaded into a car. But we felt that living with us, this cat would "see more" and do more than if he just lived his life in New Hampshire. Seemore grew to enormous proportions--I swear he had a head the size of a soccer ball. He was dumb as a box of rocks and accident-prone to boot--he was forever running full tilt into sliding glass doors or getting his head stuck in flower vases or pitchers of water while sneaking a drink (he was a lot like me, in other words). But he was unfailingly sweet, almost dog-like in his affection for us, always jumping into our arms or bumping his big head against ours, and always, always, purring, a perpetually happy kitty. It was widely believed that he was one of the many descendants of my aunt's leviathan cat, the famous Alvin. He certainly had Alvin's hunting instincts, especially when it came to snakes, with whom he was not so affectionate. Seemore lived well into his 20s and died in his sleep.

Ginger +3:Once my parents moved back to New Hampshire, my mom started her own real estate agency, although really, it might as well have been a cat-placement service. Approxiamtely every other house my mom put on the market, she'd find a cat living there, abandoned by the owners. Ginger was the first, a fat little tabby mix who, it turned out, was fat for a very good reason, as my dad discovered a few months later, when he went looking for his missing boot socks and found them all rucked into a piled under the bed, the birth nook that Ginger had crafted for her litter of little tabbies. "Goddamn it all. Nothin' under that bed but stripes and afterbirth," he complained as we tromped, sockless, off to work. Two of the kittens died from a freak parasitic infection (the vet couldn't bring himself to say so, but I had to wonder if the infection was the result of feline overcrowding), but Ginger and her daughter, Smoky, lived on and on, two freak old maids that lived under that bed and never socialized with the other cats.

Pumpkin +4:About a week after Ginger came to live with my folks, my mom agreed to sell the farm of an unreconstructed prick of a man who I'm sure had to be related to Frank Oger. He certainly had the same cruel streak. The first time my mom met him, the guy was coming out of the barn with a .22 rifle in one hand and a yowling squirming long-haired orange cat in the other. It was obvious what the man intended to do, so as my mom got out of the car, she drew from beneath the seat her "equalizer"--a cast-iron pump handle she kept in the car at all times. "You shoot that cat and I'll spill what brains you have across this yard," she said evenly, bringing the handle up. And the man, who was easily twice her size, stopped dead. My mom, as I've said, was a force of nature, and when she spoke, she could use that Mom voice of authority to halt you in your tracks. The man complained that the cats were an infestation, but my mother wouldn't hear of it. Still brandishing the pump handle, she snatched the cat from the man's hands, turned on her heel--I don’t know about you, but I'd never have had the balls to turn my back on an armed man--and marched back to the car. As she drove away, she noticed the cat's right foreleg was bleeding, so she went straight to the vet, who determined that the cat--Mom named her Pumpkin, because she was such a roly-poly--had been grazed by a bullet (evidently the man had already taken a shot at her). The vet fixed her up, then informed my mom that Pumpkin was also in a family way. A few weeks after Ginger, she had a litter of four males. One died shortly after, but the other three--Sparky, Tigger and a 7-toed, giant-pawed kitten my mom named John L. Sullivan (you know it's bad when you run out of cute pet names and start using real-people names).

Templeton +1:This was not another pregnant cat. Temp was a male, and a bit of a thief, a stray who showed up in summer and was forever raiding our garbage or sneaking in the kitchen window--he once almost got away with a whole T-bone steak. Wisely, he wanted nothing to do with what I'm sure to his mind was a kind of weird cat prison (cats go in but they never come out!). But after the first hard frost that fall, he actually came to the door and howled until my dad let him. Whereupon he promptly jumped up on the top of the wood stove my Dad was stoking and just as promptly left behind a brimstone whiff of singed cat and four perfect paw impressions that remained burned to the top of the stove until the day we moved out of that place. Even with all four paws bandaged and slathered in liniment, Temp get trying to get outside that night. The next day, my mother followed himself outside, where he led her to a hollow tree up behind the house. There she found another male cat that looked almost exactly like Temp--we always assumed they were brothers. He had some kind of gash in his leg that looked terrifically infected, so Mom carried him in. I was home then--it was just a few days before I was heading off to graduate school in Chicago--and drove both my Mom and the injured cat to the vet's, leaving Templeton at home to recover from his burns. "Are you keeping this one, too?" the vet asked when he saw us. My mom sighed. "Ah hell, what's one more. I just can't think what to call him." "How about 'Enough'?" the vet said. He was joking, but that's exactly what Mom called him.

There were more, believe it or not--there was Barny (found in a barn, duh) and Chipper (found at the lumber mill where my brother shot himself in the foot) and Ol' Fella (a truly ancient cat that had been living in an old wreck of a car up behind the house), and Tuffy (who really isn't a cat, I don't think, so much as a pig with fur) and three or four others whose names I forget. You can hardly blame me: By that point I was out the door for good and then married within a few years, and then never came home very much. The turning point came when Thomas was born, and I flatly refused to let him spend a single night in the house. I wasn't worried about any of the cats climbing into the crib and smothering him (although it was a legitimate concern. These cats loved to crowd you when you were asleep, and ol' Headfucker was still alive and well at that time), but I didn't want him in a house where so much cat dander was flying, especially given my own reaction to the environment.

The first two times we came to visit, HLS and I stayed at the local motel, about 12 miles away, and after our second visit, it finally dawned on my mother that we were serious about this, and that maybe it was time to do something about the 21 cats in her house (I was still lying about losing count a minute ago). Within six months, my Dad and a contractor had built a great room at the back of the house--it was nearly as big as the barn that sat next to it. They laid down some flooring, piped in some heat, and moved every single one of those cats out there. Then they proceeded to strip out the main part of the house, tearing out all the sprayed-on, hairball-saturated, clawmarked wood and windowsills and drywall and wallpaper. By the time Thomas was 18 months old, the main living area of the house was so cat-free that even I was able to spend the night without the aid of antihistamines.

The creation of the Cat Room finally broke the spell for my mom. After that, she invoked what my Dad called "a cat hiring freeze," with one notable exception: As Thomas became more mobile, he proved to be just as ungentle as I was as a child and just about drove Her Lovely Self's cat, Moxie, purely crazy. And Moxie was a biter, and we weren't about to risk her taking a chomp out of our baby. I was prepared to give her up to someone at work, but my Mom insisted she come to live with them. I felt a little hypocritical about that, even though Moxie had stayed with them a time or two before, when we'd lived in an apartment that didn't allow cats. But in the end, that's where Moxie went (and long-time readers recall that her departure inspired the story I made up for Thomas).

After that, though, as each old cat died off, he or she was not replaced, and so the population slowly began to dwindle. At the time of my parents' death last April, there were only four cats in the house (not counting the two in the freezer. A living cliché to the end, when those two were put down after organ failure due to extreme old age, my mom instituted a literal freeze, wrapping them in multiple layers of plastic and popping them in the cooler. They had died in the winter, you see, and as anyone from northern New England will tell you, you can't dig a grave up there in the middle of winter--not without dynamite, anyway. So she'd been waiting til spring to lay them to rest.

But then my parents died themselves, and last time I checked with BB, he hadn't quite got around to putting those cats in the ground yet. In fact, he's been talking about a new stray he's noticed up back by the barn. He had a certain tone in his voice when he said this, a tone I'd heard all too many times from my mother, a tone that made me think this madness of hers had now jumped to the next generation. But hey, it's his house now, his cats, his problem.

Back at our house, I had a problem of my own. The Brownie had been laying on heavier and heavier hints about bringing in that poor stray cat. When she brought it up at the dinner table one night, I founded myself almost speechless with indecision. How to change to her mind? Should I tell her about the madness that seems to grip our family once you let a cat in the house? Should I share with her a detailed description of the cloud of stink that hangs over everything once you let too many cats in? Should I remind her that cats die--often horribly--and that it would be a shame to put herself through the experience? Should I tell her about the Headfucker?

But I needn't have worried about which tack to take, because no sooner did the Brownie finish speaking than Her Lovely Self looked up at her and said,

"This is a one-pet house, so you decide, honey. You want a cat? Fine. But then Blaze has to go. (under the table, I heard a quick, panicky shuffle of paws and a startled, dismayed "Ork?") The cat or the dog? You decide," my wife said.

The Brownie stared at her mother for all of one second.

"Oh," the Brownie said. "Well, never mind." And she went back to eating.

Now why didn't I think of that?


Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead


Comments:
Man, your wife is an effective negotiator. I may email you some hypotheticals for her during our next contract negotiations. OK, maybe not really. :)
 
I understand the urge to continue opening the door to stray creatures. However, three animals and a baby are my husband's breaking point (until I stretch him yet further), so for the moment, we're in a holding pattern. Thank goodness for spouses--such as HLS--who keep homes from turning into zoos.
 
Yet another thing we have in common - taking in strays. Cuddles was a dumpster cat my bro found. 22 years I was blessed with her adorable face.

I'm so glad to see BB back in your writing. You had me rolling on the floor with the 'Headfucker' tale.
 
Growing up in the country is fun, isn't it? We had two stray female cats move into our barn, and they both got knocked up by my cat Tuffy. One had 6 kittens, one had 7 kittens.

They lived at opposite ends of the barn, in holes created by the uneven stacking of the hay bales, far out of our reach. I'd put food down at each end of the barn, and the moms would come out an hiss at each other for a while, then eat.

Eventually the kittens came tumbling out with the moms, and I'd put a pan of canned cat food mixed with powdered milk in between the two moms dishes. All the kittens would eat communally, and play, but their moms cuffed back any kittens that weren't theirs.

Feeding 15 kittens, the two moms, and Tuffy was putting quite a strain on our cat food budget, so my mom put up an index card in the laundromat in town: 'Free Kittens'. A week later a dozen barefoot hippies piled off a neighbors flatbed, and ended up carrying off a dozen kittens and both moms. The hippies lived communally in an old house in town, and had a mouse problem.

My mom was later horrified to learn that I had, for several years afterwards, visited the house to check on the cats whenever I could get away for a bit while we were in town. Most of the cats survived, and were healthy and happy, as near as I could tell.
 
Laughed out loud at your Dad's "stink eye" comment and of course at the "Headfucker" story. So funny!

Man, every time you post a new story it could also be titled "THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!". Now we know that MM's mom had a house full of cats. Who knew.

And there's a couple of typos in there but I forget where they were. Oh wait! One of them is when BB finds a cat after Headfucker. It says "trying fucking" instead of "try fucking" I think. But I'll stop being a grammar cop now.

Thanks again for the funny story.
 
What a great story. I was struck by your comment about being both a dog and a cat person. I grew up a dog person but in my late thirties adopted a cat and have since come to the conclusion that I am an "animal person". By the way, anyone who doesn't laugh uproariously at this post must have a deficient sense of humor.
 
YOU really think the Brownie has given up so easily?
 
Great stories!
 
It's been a year?
 
You had me at "headfucker".
 
My Mom & Dad have at least 17 cats right now and a fresh litter of kittens~ What kills me is my Dad was a cat hater and would take any strays I dragged home "to the farm"...Now he sits there with a goofy grin, cats surrounding him left and right and wont let my Mom find homes for them. Go figure? He is now the Cat Man :)
 
Happy Birthday Eclair!
 
Oh, MM, those are some great cat stories. Not to turn this into one of those ubiquitous internet cat blogging things, but if you're interested in reading a couple more...

http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com/2006/09/coalie-tigger_28.html
 
My parents actually tried that same thing on me. We had a pet dog, and I wanted a hamster for some odd reason. So they said, one pet, the dog or the hamster, and I chose the hamster. It's sad now, but probably a good thing in the long run because I turned out to be allergic to both dogs and hamsterd. (And hamsters are very short-lived. Especially when they escape.)
 
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