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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Someone is Waiting for You

“We have changed our policy and now allow one or two pets. With a substantial deposit, of course.” Sabrina, the young woman in charge of admissions here was responding to my announcement that I had a pet. Well, Tommy, my canary, passed muster and remains a sweet and songful presence in my new home, fun to watch, delightful to hear and like the nursery rhyme character Tommy Tucker he pays for his supper by being himself, singing and swinging and sharing my home. He can chirp too and always greets me when I come in the door.

My friends at dinner yesterday got to talking about their pets, dogs and cats, but no birds. I said, “We had a cute little dog when our kids were growing up. He was a stray and just camped out on our doorstep scratching at fleas until we broke down, bathed him and took him in. He looked like a Welsh Corgi, but probably had a Heinz variety background. I could write a book about Tykie and maybe someday I will.”

“Oh, you must do that!” they chimed. I could see they all were bursting to tell about their own pets so I let it go at that, but since I have no competition here at the computer I’ll tell you what I might have added. 

Long after Tykie died when I became widowed a small cat came to me. Because he came around Christmas I called him Tiny Tim. Timmy was a gray tabby. He was past the cutesy kitten age but not fully grown. I found him out by my mailbox and could see immediately that he’d been left there deliberately because there were two small plastic dishes under the stack of mailboxes. One had a few cobbles of cat food in it and the other held water that was getting low. I’d not have been surprised to find a little boy or girl hiding in the bushes nearby watching with tears, waiting to see who would adopt the last little kitten of the litter. No one had wanted him because he was so plain. This would be one last chance before the animal shelter. Maybe.                                                                                    

Timmy himself seemed to know why he was there and when my two small granddaughters saw him and how he purred, winding his little body around our legs they too recognized the signs. “You could take him, Grandma. We have Dottie, our Dalmatian, so Mommy wouldn’t let us have him, but you could take him, Grandma!”

“I’m thinking. I’m thinking,” I said. Then, “Maybe we could try him.” Back to my place with cat, food and water dishes and me thinking, “What have I let myself in for?”

Of course, Timmy was a shoo-in. He and I were pals of the first order, but when I got a job I knew he should have company so I found Tilly, a cute little female look-alike at a pet shop. Then, after about ten years I got married again. My two tabbies did not welcome my new hubby. They could probably see the beginning of the end for them when I moved to a different city leaving them behind with the house and cat sitter. Then the house had to go too and I knew I’d have to find a home for my cats. Robby, my new husband, knew I suffered. He said later, “There was a time when I wondered if it would be me or the cats.”

No one wanted two old cats but when the house sold our woman real estate agent said, “I know you’ve been looking for a good home for your cats so I waited to tell you that we could take them but they wouldn’t get the personal cozy attention you’ve given them. We have two house dogs that would not tolerate them in our house, but we live on a farm and your cats could join the other nine cats that sleep in our barn.” 

I knew Timmy could hold his own and Tilly might enjoy the company so moving day came and I tried to hold back the tears as I watched them go away in a cage in the back of a pick-up truck. A year or so later we came back to see how they were doing. 

Our friend said, “Tilly didn’t last long. The vet said she couldn’t survive an operation so we had her put to sleep. As for Timmy, he’s not a company cat so we’ve made a place for him in the garage.” 
When I saw Timmy lying there curled up on a thin pad I picked him up and looked into his green eyes. He stared back but there was no sign at all that he ever had known me. When we drove away I was heartsick.

I called a year after that to see how Timmy was and my friend said, “I’m glad you called now. If you’d called shortly after you left I’d have had to tell you he was gone. We hunted high and low but couldn’t find him. Then just a few days ago I stopped in to see the elderly woman who lives alone about a mile or so down the road. I hadn’t seen her for a long time. When I came to her door there was Timmy waiting on the doorstep! She smiled when Timmy strolled in and said, ‘You know, this little cat came here several months ago and just moved in with me. I love him. He’s such sweet company.’ I didn’t tell her where he’d come from. I just felt he’d done very well for himself.” 

You can imagine how I felt! As you see, I’ve got a good start on a book there too. I could also write a book about Lady, the little Border Collie pup we got when we moved onto the Oregon ranch. She had papers and was beautiful but turned out to be an untrained lovable little farm scallywag.  

Wouldn’t I have been a bore at the dinner table telling all that? There’s so much more. Like I said, I could write a book but everyone has their own pet stories. This is probably as far as I’ll go telling mine. You needn’t tell me yours either except in bits and pieces. You have to be best buddies with animals before you can cozy up to them audibly or in print. 

On the other hand, the exercise in writing memoir might be given a jump start if you could practice on your favorite pet. You could just find an opening line like, “There was ________, waiting for me!”


  1. I hung on to every pet story word you wrote, Joyce. I can imagine Robin's wonderful illustrations of Timmy, Tykie, Tillie and Tommy and more!! Have all of your pet names begun with the letter "T"? Glad you like "T". Love, Julie "T"ully Hey, Tully wouldn't be a bad name for your next pet!! :) xo

  2. I often think that our pet companions are manifestations of spiritual ideas that commune with us in our lives. The second verse of Hymn 34 says,

    "Once more the lonely heart is fed.
    Who dwells with Love hath perfect ease,
    Faith, hope, and joy are with us all;
    Great are companions such as these."

  3. They certainly embody lots of love, Wally! I love ALL your stories, Joycie! They're NEVER boring to me! So glad that Timmy found a good home! Tigger is right up there at the top of my pets' list too! (another 'T', Julie!). Thanks, Joycie!