Hello, friends. I’ve encountered many types of animals in my life, in both positive atmospheres, and negative. I’ve had experiences with cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, horses, pigs, chickens… you name it. I’ve lived in the city, and fed feral cats. I’ve lived in the country, and helped board horses on my ex’s family farm. I’ve owned cats. Today, I want to share with you 5 stories about some of the animals that have graced me with their magnificent presence. I will only be sharing positive stories today (well, some a bit sad). I hope you enjoy a look at some of my old, fuzzy friends in 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!).
Snoop was the first dog I ever owned, though he wasn’t technically mine. Snoop was a purebred, English dalmatian (he even had royalty papers!), and he was my mom’s boyfriend’s. When my mom and her boyfriend started dating, I was just a little kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember. We moved in with her boyfriend and his son, who was the same age as me, shortly after they started dating. I had only had cats as pets up to that point in my short life, though my mom’s old roommate’s kids had a turtle and some hamsters, who met… not-so-great ends, and I was really excited to have a dog. Snoop was a big dog, but I wasn’t afraid of him. He was a lovable lump, and wasn’t very active.
When we moved in, Snoop was 4 years old, just a year or so younger than I was. I loved him immediately. I have so many fond memories of trying to take Snoop for walks down the country roads we lived on, with him dragging me along like an inconvenient weight behind him. My mom’s boyfriend and his son didn’t play much with Snoop, or take him for walks, but I did. I loved him. I was even the one who helped my mom remove his ticks, and helped take care of him when he got mange one year. Snoop loved me more than anyone else, and would always try to climb into my lap while I was on the couch, despite his large size.
I wish I had taken more pictures of him while he was alive. I had 11 years with Snoop. In 2006, when I was 16 years old, my mom was backing out of the driveway in her Jeep, when she accidentally ran him over. Everything slowed down, and chaos ensued. That was the first time I ever saw my mom’s boyfriend cry. Snoop was rushed to the vet, where they checked him out extensively, but deemed him to be “fine“. Three days later, Snoop died in his sleep. My mom woke us up in the middle of the night, tears in her eyes, and told us. I didn’t go to school the next day. I cried for weeks. Even as I type this, I am crying. This was the last picture I ever took of Snoop, taken a few months before his death. He is buried in my backyard back home, tombstone and all, and my mom has a memorial shrine with his picture and collar set up in our living room. He will always have a special place in my heart.
Napkin (who my mom later renamed “Hunter”), was my pet from 2005-2008, until I left Maine, though he lived until 2013 with my mom. Before Napkin, the only cats I had owned were from my toddlerhood, and I did not remember them at all, so I consider him to be my first cat. We rescued Napkin from a household that had a pet hoarding problem, after many of his brothers and sisters had run away, or had died. My mom brought him home to me late at night, and he was so terrified, that he jumped from her arms, and hid behind our computer desk in the living room for almost 24 hours. He eventually come out, with a little persuading using a can of tuna, and became my best little buddy. He received his silly moniker after I asked my best friend at the time to help me pick a name. I told him the first thing he came up with, I’d keep. He said Napkin, and I loved it. He was the cutest little fluff ball, and he would sit on my desk all day. Snoop, who was still alive at the time, had never been around cats, and we were afraid how he would react to such a tiny creature, but he loved him. He covered him with slobbery kisses, and tolerated his rough, kitten play. When Snoop passed away later that year, Napkin was noticeably distressed.
Napkin was an indoor/outdoor cat, and often brought us home “presents”. He brought a dead, baby mole into the living room once, and I cried for the whole night. I buried the baby mole in the backyard the next day, underneath my tree house. I left Maine in 2008, after graduation, and that was the last time I saw Napkin. In 2013, my mom emailed me to tell me that Napkin had been missing for a week, and she was worried, because he always came home. Two days later, she found his body on the side of the road. I was heartbroken.
This is the last picture I ever took with him, in the summer of 2008 (yes, I know this technically makes 6 pictures in this post, sue me):
He did love me, I swear!
You all know about my baby girl, Jade, who I unfortunately had to re-home after 6 years of companionship… but I don’t know if I’ve ever talked much about this little guy. This is Link. In 2011, I was living in a sketchy neighborhood by East St. Louis, where feral cats roamed free, and everyone and their mother from the apartment complexes fed them. I fell in love with a sweet little tiger cat, who had been coming to my door for months. I eventually noticed her large belly, when she was just under a year old (I know her age, because I fed her mother as well, and remember her giving birth), and watched her closely throughout her pregnancy. One day, I came home to find the small cat waiting by my door, no longer pregnant, and meowing loudly. I followed her to the other end of our deck, where she disappeared beneath my neighbor’s grill cover. When I lifted the cover, I found the tiniest kitten I had ever seen, completely white, except for three small, black dots on his head. I left the kitten alone, but kept an eye out. When mama cat did not come back for two days, fearing for the kitten’s safety, I took him in. Mama cat eventually came back, and still came to my door for food, but never seemed bothered by her lone, missing kitten.
I bottle fed this kitten every few hours with special kitten formula, and reached out to a vet about his flea infestation. She advised I give him a bath in Dawn dish soap, which did the trick. It was scary, raising such a tiny creature, but I was between jobs at the time, and had all the time in the world to care for him. Once I knew that we were out of the woods, I decided to name my new friend. I decided to name him Link, because the three dots on his head reminded me of the Triforce from Legend of Zelda. Everyone loved the name.
Despite terrorizing my grumpy, older cat, Jade, the two eventually became friends, and spent a lot of time cuddling and playing. In 2012, we moved 4 hours north, to my ex’s family farm, where we almost lost Link, after my ex’s brother shut his leg in a door, breaking the bone on the growth plate. Link was still growing, and the surgery and medication would have cost us over $1200 to fix him. We were devastated. Luckily, family helped us with the finances, and we were able to get him his surgery. He spent 6 weeks confined to a large cage, unable to run or jump, which was very hard for him, as he was born feral, and had loads of energy. He also had to wear a cone, which he hated. In the middle of his recovery, we were kicked out of our house by my ex’s family, who hated me, and were forced to move to a new town with our injured cat. He made it through just fine, however, and recovered very well. He was back to his usual self a few months later. Unfortunately, when my ex and I broke up in 2013, he kept Link, and I kept Jade. I don’t know what ever became of him after I left.
As I mentioned before, I lived on a farm with my ex for a little while, watching his family’s farm while his older brother ran off to Texas to chase a girl. A week or so after we moved in, my ex’s sister showed up with a tiny kitten. She said someone had left him in in a taped up cardboard box front of the restaurant that she worked at. We already had a handful of outdoor barn cats, as well as Link and Jade, plus my ex’s mother’s elderly dog, and two horses… but we decided to take him in. I named him Zelda, despite later finding out that it was a boy. He was skin and bones, and had a loud, wailing meow. He ate non-stop for the first few days, before he began to mellow down and socialize. He was an absolute sweetheart, and I was fairly certain that he was older than he looked, despite his stunted growth. He got along fantastically with both of our other cats, and was the only cat that wasn’t afraid of the elderly Cocker spaniel in our care. Our biggest issue with this little baby was his refusal to use the litter box, no matter how clean it was. He would poop and pee right outside it, meaning I had several messes a day to clean up. He was also very food aggressive, and would bully the other cats, who were double and triple his size, when it came to feeding. He would growl and make bizarre noises, acting as though he was starving at each meal. It was strange. He was still too little, and it was far too cold, for him to live in the barn with the other cats, so we kept him inside for the remainder of our stay there.
After we left the farm and moved into our new apartment, that behavior continued, and worsened. Despite being a cuddly, sweet, love bug, he would attack you viciously to get your food, and began getting violent when the other cats would try to eat. We also now lived in a carpeted apartment, versus the hardwood covered farm house, and he began peeing and pooping on the carpets, and even our furniture. He eventually started spraying once he became of age, and our apartment was starting to stink. Nothing we did remedied the behavior, and I debated re-homing him, or bringing him back to the farm to live with the other feral cats. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to. One night, after picking me up from work, my ex pulled over and said to me carefully, “Don’t get upset.” I immediately knew what was coming. He then told me that he had taken the cat back to the farm, and had put him down. I was devastated. Link and Zelda were best buddies, and I knew he would be upset about his sudden disappearance as well. Despite his bad behaviors, I loved that kitten, and he was absolutely enamored with me. It broke my heart, and I was both devastated, and furious. I wasn’t all that surprised, because that’s just how he, and his family of cowboys were. If an animal was sick or broken, it got put down. Period. Luckily, those people are no longer in my life.
One of my favorite past times has always been visiting various pet stores, and spending hours among the animals. I especially love smaller pet shops, verses large, corporate stores, because they have more unique animals, many of them loose in the store, which I find so cool. Shortly after moving to central Illinois, I stumbled across a family owned, exotic pet store, which specialized in rescued animals, and I visited it frequently. They had snakes, birds, a giant tortoise, and tons of lizards and fish… and Chelsea. Chelsea was a cockatoo, and was one of three birds that was allowed to be free in the store. Chelsea said a handful of phrases, and was very friendly. I had never held a bird before, let alone a large bird like Chelsea, so when the owner told me she was affectionate, and asked me if I wanted to hold her, I was hesitant. Luckily, I got over my fears, and held the beautiful, white bird. She nuzzled my face and hair, and repeated, “I love you” and “Hi Chelsea” over and over. She also had a loud, happy shriek. It was amazing. I never thought of birds as being affectionate, but Chelsea showed me just how wrong I was.
I love animals. I’ve always had animals around me for as long as I can remember. Ever since my son was born, we’ve been without a pet (due to our lease), and we hope to get more animals when we get our own home. I hope you enjoyed reading this and learning a little bit about the fur babies from my past.
Thanks for reading, friends.
And as a bonus… here are some old pictures of my fur babies, Jade, Link, and Zelda, when I had them all together. I get emotional looking at the picture of the three of them.