Yesterday I whispered my last farewell to Magic, a boxer/Boston terrier/pit mix who shared my life for nearly nine years. He actually belonged to my grandson Justin, but due to space issues, he and his best friend Mama Dog have lived with me for nearly eight years. I first met Magic when my next door neighbors brought him home eleven years ago at six weeks old. As he grew, he was left out year-round on a chain attached to a big tree in their backyard. Storms terrified him. I became his guardian of sorts in that I took him food every day and made sure he had access to fresh water, and took him a dog house I filled with pine straw. He loved toys, and he loved it best when I squirted him with water from the hose in the hot summer months. Every chance he got, he got free from the chain and came straight to my house. I had to take him home, of course, but always with treats. Over the two years he lived there, I asked several times if I could buy him but the youngest boy who loved him didn’t want to part with Magic. When they moved to another small town just down the road, I worried about what would happen to Magic. Then a few months later, the boy’s mother asked if I still wanted Magic. I said Yes! with no hesitation. My grandson had always loved him, too, and so we went to the animal shelter where Magic had been taken by Animal Control, and bailed him out. He’d been running away a lot. I don’t know what all happened to him while he was gone, but the sweet, friendly dog I’d always known had changed a great deal. He was nervous, shy of people,. and had become a biter. His best friend was Mama Dog, a pit rescued from a dog fighter. She didn’t tolerate his mood swings, and they lived peacefully most of the time. Magic still loved to leap up in the air to bite at the stream of water from the garden hose, and would do it for an hour before tiring. He loved tussling with Mama Dog, sleeping next to her, walks, and breakfast, dinner, and bedtime, when they all get a treat before I turn out the lights. He kept me on a strict schedule at times, barking if he considered me overdo with meals or bedtime treats.
Five weeks ago, Magic’s usual spring allergies I treated with Benadryl, grew worse. Then he became bloated. The vet diagnosed him with congestive heart failure and said he didn’t have much longer. Medicine and kefir gave him five extra weeks, but when breathing became a struggle and he couldn’t lie down because of the fluid around his heart and lungs, we made the decision to let him go. As he lay on a blanket at the vet’s I promised him no more pain, and no more storms. He was surrounded by love and tears as he slipped away in my arms.
When I came home, I sat in my living room looking out the window, and to my surprise a hummingbird appeared at the window and hovered for a moment. It was the first–and only–hummingbird I’ve seen this year. I’d like to think Magic sent it to let us know he’s made it to the other side where he’s happily running free at last. May there be lots of treats and garden hoses . . .
Springtime at last! My roses are blooming, peonies about to open. violets everywhere except where I planted them, and new projects are flourishing.
First, for those who have asked, the sixth Divas book is nearly finished. It’s currently titled Divas Are Forever, and this time the Divas are trying to find out who killed an elderly man at a Civil War battle reenactment during the annual Holly Springs Pilgrimage. I’m also working on a reissue of a romance novel, and a new Regency-era short story for a Christmas anthology.
Good news about the last kitten, named Kasey: He was adopted by a wonderful little girl and her family! He looks quite content and King of the Castle, and his litter mate, Duchess (formerly Keira), is definitely Queen of her domain as well. Photos below!
Sadly, we had a loss two months ago tomorrow. Gigi, a cat shared with my good friend and neighbor Tracey, was killed by two loose dogs while she sat in the sunshine across the street. While there is a leash law for cats in our city, Gigi was a Norwegian Forest Cat, a breed nearly impossible to keep inside. I know very well the casualty rate of cats allowed to roam free and keep mine up, but Gigi was just one of those cats who got out no matter what I did or what Tracey did. Tracey adopted her ten years ago from the local animal shelter, and when she had to move to an area where traffic was bad, she left Gigi with me. Last summer Tracey moved back into her house across the street and Gigi became our shared cat. She spent the nights with Tracey, and showed up on my front porch every morning for a tuna breakfast. Animal Control is wonderful here, and arrived quickly when I called them about the loose dogs. That’s when we learned that the dogs came from a couple miles away, and had already killed a cat on the next street when they found Gigi sunning herself. She never had a chance. The animal control officers were able to capture the two loose dogs the next day when they attacked horses nearby, and since they are “habitual offenders” they’ve confiscated them. (I’m told they won’t be euthanized, but are not available for public adoption, only to qualified adopters).
Gigi is resting now near one of my bird feeders where she used to like to sit and wait for unsuspecting birds, an activity I highly discouraged. I’ve planted Forget-Me-Nots on her grave. May she be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge with all the others I’ve lost.
It’s been a while since I posted on here, an eventful few months. Sadly, I lost my father October 31st. The past year since last February has been spent in 1300 mile round trips to visit him in NC, and I don’t regret a moment of it. He lived 92 years, was a decorated WWII veteran, a decorated Korean War veteran who flew dangerous missions, a retired pilot from Piedmont Airlines (US Air/American Airlines now), a military policeman, night guard, learned to drive big trucks after retiring as a pilot, and an expert at forking hay and cleaning horse stalls. He particularly loved the last, as well as his wonderful cat, TomTom. If not for being assaulted and subsequent stroke caused by it, I do believe he would have made it to 100. He was a trooper to the end. I got my love of animals and creative writing from him, as my mother is wont to say, and both of them gifted me with a love for reading at an early age. While I’m struggling to come to terms with the details of his unnecessary death, I have the blessing of wonderful memories that light the dark path.
When we lived in Japan he took me to the Saturday matinees to watch American Westerns and when we returned state-side, took me horseback riding and let my inner cowboy have free rein. A Pennsylvania farm boy, he took to the South, particularly Jackson Mississippi, like a native, and always yearned to return. He built his first sailboat in the garage of our home in Jackson, and sailed the Ross Barnett Reservoir with it for years before selling it. His last sailboat is dry-docked in his NC field, alas. I would have loved to put him in it and let him take his last voyage into eternity, a case of Heineken by the helm. Some of his last words to me were about his beloved cat, TomTom, and I was able to tell him that the cat born in a manger in his horse barn is safe; he is now with a wonderful home in Mississippi. Funny, how things go full circle sometimes. I like to think of my father as flying free to revisit the places he loved, from the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania to the sweeping delta of Mississippi. He was a remarkable man. I will miss him until my last breath.
I love this cover! As a lifelong horse lover, I’ve always appreciated the beauty and majesty of these wonderful creatures. Although I haven’t owned any horses since my last two were struck by lightning and killed, I would love to one day share my life with another one. Or two. They’re like Lay’s potato chips–no one can have just one.
Anyway, the ladies at Bell Bridge did a spectacular job with this new cover of the reissue, and the book just came out today. It’s at Amazon for $5.99 for the ebook. A short tease:
What do a dangerous highwayman in Georgian England, a handsome earl, and a baronet’s beautiful gypsy daughter have in common? Shared secrets!
Kasey said goodbye to his sister this week as she went off to a wonderful new home and adventures of her own. He sat in their little bed and waited sadly for a while, then decided to alleviate his boredom and loneliness by attacking his uncle, an aunt, his mother, then the cat tower. I think he’ll be fine. Besides, some wonderful person is out there who will give Kasey a new family and adventures of his own soon!
Kiera has a new home! Her wonderful adopter is an accomplished and talented actor in the Memphis area, earning some great reviews for his work, and fell in love with Kiera immediately. It’s mutual! She’s also got a new kitty brother to play with as they get to know each other better. Meanwhile Kiera has a lot of new toys to keep her busy while Daddy is at work. I really love happy endings . . .
The babies are six weeks old today. Kasey is a little male and Kiera is female, and they are almost weaned and doing great in the litter box. Mostly. Sometimes Kasey leans too far over and poops right outside it, but that’s what the tray is for. Practice makes perfect, I tell him.
I tried to take good photos of them but the old adage about herding cats holds true for kittens too. I even put them in an orange pumpkin but Kasey was out of there before I could focus the camera. Adorable and lively!
Their mama, Mittsy, was rather lackadaisical about feeding them, but her sister, Mischief, took over the job and did very well. I’d had the rest of the fosters spayed/neutered at our local clinic, and apparently Mischief was preggers so her maternal instincts kicked in and she’s a much better mother than Mittsy. My friend and her ten year old son were holding them, and Mischief didn’t like that so got in their lap and took the kitten right out of her hands and put it back in the bed, then returned for the other one. Not all cats are born mothers, I suppose, but some have a double dose.
Kasey is the intrepid little black and white boy, and sweet Kiera is rather bemused by the entire pumpkin and photo thing . . . they had to nap after the photo shoot.
So this past winter an orange and white cat showed up on my front porch wanting in my house. He was fat and insistent. Since I already had 8 foster cats and my own rescues in residence I resisted his charms, thinking perhaps he’d just gotten out for the day and his guardians would be searching for him. WRONG.
My 92 year old father lives 600 miles away and was injured last February, and I spent weeks at a time out of town. When I returned, I realized that the orange and white cat was suffering. As I keep a bowl of cat food and water on my front porch year round he wasn’t starving, but his sleek beauty was gone. Neighborhood cats had apparently taken umbrage at his appearance in their territory, and when I saw him again I cried. I was certain he would lose his left eye; he was scruffy and thin, but still purred when I picked him up to hold him. What to do? I was having to go out of town every few weeks and my beleaguered house-sitter had enough to do with my zoo. I kept food out for him and doctored his bites, cuts and wounds as best I could.
Then he disappeared. I returned from NC to the news he hadn’t been seen for a while. I regretted not just bringing him inside, and sent my apologies to what I was sure was his spirit. In my neighborhood, there are a lot of cats left behind, born feral, or dumped, and I knew he was another casualty.
And then–a miracle! My grandson Justin said he’d seen him at the food bowls late at night. So I ambushed him about 3 one morning, picked him up and he just tucked his battered face into the crook of my arm and purred. Oh yeah.
The above is Rocky before Cindy of Kitty City assisted me with his vetting. Oak Tree Vets in Olive Branch MS treated him, neutered him and gave him his shots, and now he is fat and sassy again. Below is Rocky stretched out waiting to be petted.
His left eye, while looking awful, was treatable and he lost no vision at all. He’s about a year and a half old, still bears the scars of his months long ordeal–hence the name Rocky for Rocky Balboa–but other than a slight squint his only lasting health issue is that he’s FIV positive. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s similar to an auto-immune disorder in cats, and is transmitted by bites. According to my information, Rocky will live a long and normal life but his immune system is compromised now, and he shouldn’t roam free to infect other cats that have not been inoculated against it. Cindy and I are still searching for him that perfect forever home. Meanwhile, he plays with my female cats quite nicely, is still a bit wary of my dogs, and everyone who comes in my house falls in love with him. He’s a boisterous boy and full of himself. He’s also a flight risk, and I have to guard the front door against visitors or he’ll bolt outside. He likes to do that and wait for me in the front flower bed, gleeful at his escape. So I put a bell on him. We’re at a stand-off now.