Welcome to the wild world of pets

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Living with four indoor cats, a couple of outdoor dogs and pair of outside cats (one patrols the back yard while the other one guards the front), keeps life interesting.

Perish the thought of how much we contribute to the pet food industry, to which a considerable amount of our hard-earned dollars go each year. Then there’s the endless supply of cat hair on the furniture and occasional hairballs (not to mention the unpleasant surprises we’ve found in the fake ficus, thanks to our 17-year-old puss, Ginger).

I mustn’t fail to mention our zany canines’ constant need to travel with their food dishes. I can only imagine what those driving by think when they see Rascal or Junior, dish securely in mouth, trotting down the road. Our dishes end up down at Mama’s, and hers sometimes travel to our house on the hill.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;Whaddya guys think, this is Chinese take out?!&uot; my husband will yell as the dogs perform their latest hi-jacking.

Of course, no one ever held a gun to our heads and said, &uot;Adopt those pets!&uot;

We didn’t exactly go looking for them, either.

Fact is, most of our current felines and canines showed up unannounced and uninvited, unceremoniously dumped (we can only assume) on our country road.

We’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog (or cat, as the case may be).

Ginger, who I affectionately refer to as our &uot;antique pussy cat&uot; actually showed up with her late (and greatly lamented) sibling Mary Ann, in front of our townhouse in Dayton in the late ’80s.

It was cold and beginning to snow; they were cute and friendly half-grown tabby kittens. The pair came in for food and warmth and basically never left again.

Mary Ann now rests in peace beneath a tree in the back yard and Ginger (deaf as a stone and arthritic, but otherwise pretty healthy) spends a lot of time resting pretty peacefully on any soft and warm spot she can find (laps are high on her list).

Junior, our big yellow dog of dubious lineage, is the only surviving pup from a litter born to a very large and shaggy stray that sought refuge beneath our front deck (long hair will cover up a lot, it seems).

Junior grew – and grew. He is now roughly the size of a small pony (we could put a saddle and bridle on him and rent him out for kiddy rides) and his annual food intake is roughly the equivalent of one of those teensy little European duchies or principalities or what have you.

It’s like having my very own teenage son around the house: &uot;Mom, I’m hungry!&uot;

Rascal, a fluffy black and tan collie-shepherd mix, is handsome, winsome and much more of a gentleman than Junior.

If I so much as appear outside, Junior will bound up and practically knock me down. Rascal, on the other hand, will cast a shy but eager sideways glance at his mama and wait to be invited, whether for food or some cuddle time.

When we head home in the evenings, Benny and I know those two crazy canines will be waiting for each of us to arrive. Rascal’s lovely plume of a tail will wag as he carefully guides in our vehicles (ah, those old herding instincts ring true). Junior will be wiggling as he waits with one giant paw raised. And our handsome, suave orange tom, Cheeto (the front yard cat), will be woefully informing us he is starving, as usual.

I love them all; my wild, weird assortment of pets spell &uot;home&uot; to me.

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.