Friday, April 15, 2011

My Pets

My pets are one of the few things that make me smile. Ordinarily, I'm a cat lover. Growing up, I had two households (my dad & stepmom's house, in NJ and my mom & stepdad's house in PA). I lived primarily with my dad, and stepmom, and visited my mom & stepdad on weekends and during school vacations. At my dad's we had a strict "no mammal" pet policy. My dad maintained a fish aquarium, and my stepmom has two parrots (one Amazon , name Rocky, and a Goffin Cockatoo, named Noel). While the parrots can be amusing, only my stepmom can actually handle Rocky, and Noel is a bit neurotic. Neither of them provided me, with any companionship. At my mom's we always had a ton of cats, outside dogs, and various small critters, over the years (guinea pigs, lizards, parakeets and rabbit). I was especially attached to three cats, whom I grew up with, Nusy, Gizmo and Mitzoo. My mother had Nusy, every since I was a baby. We got Gizmo when I was around four, and Mitzoo when I was about seven. I was most attached to Gizmo, who lived the longest (she died shortly after I began going to college), and I spent the most time with. She was super lovable, affectionate and sweet. Even as an old cat, she had the cutest high pitch mew, that sounded just like a kitten.

I love dogs, but I've always preferred cats. As an adult, most of my boyfriends had dogs, and both my little sisters, and brother each had dogs. I've been around them nearly my whole life, love playing with them, and being around them, just never owned one of my own, until recently. I'm an animal lover, in general, and like all kinds of little critters. I especially love little, fury mammals. I enjoyed playing with my guinea pigs, at my mom's when I was young, and always felt I was missing something, not having a pet of my own, at my dad's. It wasn't until I was almost finished with college, that I managed to convince my dad, to let me break the "no mammal" rule, and bring home a pet. I adopted a chinchilla, who I named Tskushi (after an anime character), from my mentor, Mr. Grace. He had been my high school art teacher, and mentor for my junior filed work, and student teaching. When I found out he had experience breeding chinchillas, and had a few up for adoption, I just HAD to have one. At first I convinced my boyfriend at the time, to let me keep her at his place, but later moved her home, to my parents house. I thought my dad would pitch a fit, but instead he fell in love her, and played with her, and enjoyed her company, just as much as I did. In fact, when I first brought up the idea of moving out, he asked if I wouldn't mind leaving Tskushi behind, because he'd grown so attached to her.

When I moved out and got my first apartment, one of the most exciting aspects to my new found freedom, and independence was getting my own cat. I adopted a pretty, little grey and white cat, from my grandparents. They had inherited her from a friend, who had initially just asked them to watch her temporarily. They already had two other cats, and I felt like they were struggling to care for them, so I offered to take "Tinkerbell" who I later changed her name to Bella. I moved into my first place in April, 2005 (precisely six years ago, today). I only got to enjoy living in my apartment, and with Bella, for two months, before my injury. Even though our time together was short lived, I quickly fell in love with her, and really enjoyed her company. She had a big personality, and demanded a lot of attention, which I kind of liked. She's was super chatty, and would meow my ear off, as soon as I got home from work, every day.

The funny thing was, I didn't realize that she was pregnant when I adopted her (she was only around seven months old, had a small frame, and had been an indoor cat). Both her, and my grandparents' other cat, were not neutered, and had apparently conceived a kitten, just before I took her. Three weeks before my accident, I came home to a big surprise. I had just finished bar tending school (I had lined up a bar tending job for summer employment), and came home late that night. I opened the door to my apartment, and Bella greeted me, as usual, meowing away, about who knows what, when out of her little cubbyhole, crawls out a small, grey thing. At first, I was shocked, and thought maybe she's somehow caught a mouse. I crouched down, to get a better look, and realized it was a kitten! Immediately, I called my boyfriend (who was already on his way over) and started freaking out, and frantically searching my apartment for the rest of the litter. We searched high and low, and found no signs of any other kittens. I thought that was bizarre, and called an emergency vetinary hotline, to get advice. They told me, it could take hours, in between labor, and to stay up with her, and monitor her through the night. By the next morning, we still only had one, small grey kitten, so we took mother, and daughter to the vet to get examined. They took some xrays and determined that Bella had an abnormally small "litter", of one, most likely due to the fact that she and the father cat, were both very young in age. I was pleased, that they were both healthy, and decided to keep the new addition to the family. We named her Rosa (the initial choice was "Axel"-based of the lead singer from Guns'n'Roses-but given the fact we found out she was a girl, we came up with a compromise). Rosa had just opened her eyes, and had begun running around when I got hurt. When my apartment got closed down, my best friend Erin adopted them both. Now Erin, and her husband have Rosa, and my grandparents have Bella. I've had the chance to "cat sit" for them, various times, throughout the past six years.

After my accident, I spent a year and a half living in a nursing home. In January 2007, I got myself out, and into an apartment of my own. For the first year living here, I lived with a roommate. Steve and I had been high school classmates, and had got back in touch, shortly before my accident. He really helped me out, by agreeing to room with me. Although I have no functional mobility, the state only provides me with eight hours of having a home health aide, per day. It was crucial for me to have a roommate, to have the safety, and security, of having someone here at night, in case of emergency. Steve and I got along well, and I enjoyed our time living together. As an added bonus, Steve brought along his cat Maynerd (aka Manny) to keep us company. I really enjoyed having Manny around, especially during the day, when I was alone in the apartment by myself.

After living here for about a year, Steve and his girlfriend (now wife) decided they wanted to get a place of their own. I had a new roommate lined up, but he backed out at the last minute, leaving me in a tight spot. I asked my sister Kati, if she wouldn't mind coming to stay with me for a while. She agreed, and moved in with her dog Precious, who I knew, since before my accident. Precious is a golden retriever, cocker spaniel, corgy mixed breed. She's super affection, lovable, mild mannered and very well behaved. Having her here has been really great. She's super loyal, and loves to keep me company. She often lays near my wheelchair, or beside my bed. Everyone that meets her, just loves her.

Once Manny had left, I felt like I really missed having a cat. I discussed the idea of getting one, with Kati, and my mom, and they both agreed they'd be willing to help me take care of one. We adopted Tommy, around Halloween, 2008. I had searched for a while, online and ended up finding him through his foster family. Since we already had Precious, it was important for me to adopt a "dog friendly" cat. Tommy is just that! In fact, we think he thinks he IS a dog. He plays well with dogs, is EXTREMELY outgoing, curious & smart. He even wears a harness & takes walks with the dogs (I'm serious).

Tommy is a little too smart! He can open all of the doors in my apartment, so we had to change my doorknob from a lever, to a round knob. When I first got him, I had an environmental control unit, that I could control, by tapping a button, on my pillow, with my head & give verbal commands. If I needed help, I'd tap the button, and say "get Steve", which would in turn, sound an alarm in Steve's room (now my sister's room). For some reason, instead of just pouncing on my sister, and waking her up, he'd come barreling into my MY room, meowing for food, at 5 or 6 am. Then, I'd sound the alarm, and he'd go charging off, towards the second bedroom. The routine got old, fast, and I opted for the different knob, which he's since given up trying. He will on occassion bust into the bathroom, on guests, if they forget to lock the door. He's one of a kind (my family has owned many, many cats). He got very attached to my mom (who plays with, walks, & feeds him), and could care less about me. He is catlike in the one aspect, that he requires a 50/50 relationship. I can't offer him much, so he's not interested in me. That's the main reason I got Naama.

Naama is my very first dog. She is a Miniature Pinscher, with a BIG personality! I always thought if I were to get a dog, I'd want a small, short hair breed. Being a cat person, I like the idea of being able to carry my pet, and be able to have my pet on my lap, and in bed with me. She was a spur of the moment purchase. A friend of mine, who I met online (playing Maple Story) had come to visit. We took her to see my art exhibit, and then to a local mall, to my favorite restaurant chain, the Rainforest Cafe. We made the mistake (in a good way) to stop in the pet store on the way out & I fell in love with Naama. I'd always wanted a mini-pin & really wanted the companionship. I named her after my friend, Naama. She's the best thing (being) I ever bought. She's super cute & sassy. She makes me laugh. She's super spoiled, and she knows it! She's definitely got a "diva" complex, and can at times, be a total drama queen! She's the closest thing I have to a child, and I love buying her cute little outfits to wear. She's got quite a wardrobe, and I get a kick out of seeing her prance around, in her clothes. She's been great for Tommy, and they play well together. They can both get pretty hyper, and Precious is too old to be bothered. Tommy and Naama make good playmates and I just love watching the two of them interact. Having pets has definitely been a spirit lifting experience for me. They can make me smile, even on my worst ways. I'm truly thankful for their love and companionship.

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  1. Gotta love the pets! Precious is friggen adorable!

  2. Nice pictures! I am glad these animals are a source of joy in your life. We all need some sunshine!