Friday, April 07, 2006

Old McMeepers Had a Farm...

I was always that kid, the one who came home and gave my parents the Big Eyes Look* (truly difficult to do with eyes that look like this:( - - ) This was invariably followed by a comment like the following, "Heyyy Maaaaaah! Look what I found! He followed me home! Can we keeeeep him? Pleeeeease? Pleasepleasepleaseplease?" Keep in mind that we had the following pets, all at the same time:

1) One to three cats at all times. At least.
2) Two ducks, Mallard, (Donald and Daisy, of course.)
3) A dozen (laying) hens, happily housed in their coop, except for brief expeditions for "flying lessons" or worm-eating in our yard.
4) About a dozen Angora rabbits (kept for their plush fur), plus their babies. The phrase "breed like rabbits" is no joke.
5) A Dalmation, Mia, not housetrained. (My mom finally drew the line here and kept me instead of the dog. She may have lived to regret her decision, but I'll never know.)
6) Two mice, Laverne and Shirley, who eventually escaped, chewed through an entire drawer of dishtowels, and met their demise under our sink. For years, I thought they were "living free", out in my playhouse, and I used to sit quietly and wait for them to come and visit me.

I think there's just an invisible "Sucker" sign on my forehead that only animals can read. Sometimes, I think about all the stray (pregnant) cats, sweet (dirty) dogs, random (injured) birds. The numerous trips to the animal shelters and bird rescue places I inflicted on my parents and, in the last six years, S. I always end up remembering what I said to my parents at age four. "I'm going to marry Byron Baarsch, establish a farm, and ..." (the elipses part is where I said, "and have ten children." This was before I got a clear picture on precisely what having ten children would entail.)

These days, I'm fine with Parts A and C of that plan, but am working on the farm bit. Imagine the following: A woman in four-inch heels leaps from a car, sprinting to the meridian of a four-lane (not busy) side road, and gently calls to a strange dog. The dog walks hesitantly over to her and rests its head in her hand. After sharing this touching moment, (The background sound of which are traffic and S. He's barking, "Get BACK in the CAR, babe!! COME ON! We've got to GO! You're going to get HIT, dammit!") I scoop Fido up in my arms, sheep/shepard style. After I deposited him in the back of our car and subsequently to the doggie 'drop box' at the shelter, I filled out the Found Dog paperwork with explicit directions to contact me if no owner was found. Happily for everyone but me, he was re-united with his owner the next day.

-The raccoons, possums and skunks that visit our house all the time. Even though I don't leave food out for them, they seem to know a Sucker Lives Here. Possums being R.O.U.S. as far as I'm concerned, I try and give them a wide berth. The raccoons and skunks are just stopping by to check and see if I've started leaving them cat food yet.

Our newest (third) cat, Remo. He's at least twenty pounds of black, puffy fur with giant green eyes and long, wicked looking fangs...and a the most heart-rending, "meeeee?" ever. He came up to me last week in the dark (laundry time for me is about ten pm) and started "talking" to me. I picked him up and his purrrring vibrated all the bones in my upper body. After I fed him a half can of tuna, I noticed a collar under the massive mane of black fur on his neck. I brought him into our laundry room and called his person. She didn't pick up, so I left her a message saying, "Hey, I found your cat, didn't recognize him, thought you might want to pick him up,". You know, like someone who likes animals would do, right?

Meanwhile, Fynn and Edie were growling and hissss!ing and probably explaining exactly what they'd do to Remo, when they got a hold of him.... until I opened my kitchen door. Fynn got a face full of of Remo, who is probably a third again his size. While Fynn is fierce, he's not a dummy. Half an hour later, I was wondering what should I do with Remo, so I called the lady back. I give you our heart-warming conversation.

Her: "What?" (Highly peeved voice, same as used on telemarketer.)

Me: "Hi, I'm just calling because I found Rem.."

Her: "Yeah, I know, I heard the message" (Yet didn't feel the need to call me back?)

Me: "So would you like to pick him up? I'm over on _____ Street, and I was worried he might get run over with all the construction work and crazy drivers around lately." (

Her: "No, he'll be fine, he's pretty much ok out there." (Said as though above telemarketer just appeared at your door and peed on your shoes.)

Me: "Oh, ok, I just wanted to call, since I hadn't seen him around before, so I thought he might be lost and didn't want him to get hit - I had an outside cat who got hit this year, he'd been out most of his life, until this darn construction work started! Can you believe it?" (At this point, I figured she must live somewhere close and that he'd just run along home when I let him out.)

Her: "No... I don't live anywhere near there, I don't know anything about the traffic. The cat's fine, he's staying with a friend of mine, but she's on vacation for a few more weeks, so...." (said in offhandedly irritated tones, as though I've now suggested that she might want to pick up her cat from running homeless and hungry in the street. Gaahhhhhd! Some people are just so rude, with their calling and asking to return your pets!)

At this point, I was a little shocked - She's been totally rude, admitted to me that neither she nor the person who's supposed to be 'taking care of' him are around, or concerned for his welfare. She's indicated I should just throw him back outside, and intimated that my calling was a complete. Alllrighty then! Deep breath, do not mention calling the ASPCA, PETA or other acronym-heavy animal organizations.

"Oh....oh....ok then! I'll just, ummm, let him out then!" (upbeat-if-icy tone)

Ten minutes later, my phone rang.

Me: "Hello?" (upbeat tone)

Her: "Did you let my cat in your house?" (No greeting of any sort preceeded this question, which was posed in the same tone as one would ask, "Did you pee on my shoe?")

Me: "uhhh...No..." (wondering if I had let him in, would she have come and got him?)

Her: "Yeah, well, I don't want him coming in to someone else's house and getting all used to its atmosphere." (Extremely pissy tone, as above.)

Yes, indeed, heaven forbid someone pet, feed and cuddle your pet, the one you can't be bothered to care for, or even leave with another responsible person whilst you straighten out your life. S. sighed to me, "Well, dear, you can only save 'em one cat at a time."

Naturally, Remo's been back here every day since that night. I kept my word and he hasn't been in for a second, but I've reinforced my supply of tuna. Now all I need is a chicken coop (have already thought of it, but remembered I don't like eggs anymore) a pair of overalls, and a goat to nibble on the foliage, and my farm will be up and running.

*The Big Eyes Look


bee said...

that is the strangest thing i've ever heard. remo sounds adorable - i can't believe his owner is such a skank! grrrr, that would make me angry - irresponsible pet-caring usually does.
good for you for taking care of him though. i'd say if he keeps coming back then you should just keep him, period.

Meepers said...

I just fed him his once-a-day meal - he's gobbling it down - not in the way a "Garfield" type cat (you know, the ones who are big kittens and just get fatter as they get older) eats. More like the way a large, hungry adult animal gratefully eats every last morsel, because he doesn't know when he'll get his next meal.

Fynn and Edie are curious about him, but they are already getting out of 'attack' mode and into "who are YOU?" mode. But what do you think, should I call her again and get a better handle on his situation, or just keep feeding him and hope he doesn't get hit?

bee said...

hmm. tough call. if it was me (and chances are you've read one of my cat posts, so you know how i feel about cats in general) i'd probably...let him say if he wanted to. the dynamics between remo, fynn and eddie will work theselves out, but if he wanted to hang around more, i'd let him.
screw that bitchy womyn who obviously doesn't deserve to own a gerbil.
but then, i don't have a husband to think about.
and the womyn herself...i'd almost be tempted to alert the spca (humane society) about her. just tell them about how you ran into remo, then how you tried to resolve the situation, and about her response. you know? see what they'd think.
personally, i'd be 1000% happier, probably, living with you.

p.s. about my blog - thank you so much for your comment. i'm never gone really long, but i have incredible amounts of work to do and it always sucks hours of my life away from me. plus, the few times when i actually forget that other people read it and write what's actually going through my head, i get kind of blasted for it.

i'll be back.