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Wednesday, March 17, 2010
This is the earliest picture of Grandma I’ve found, so far, in the treasure box of old photos from her garage. I’m guessing it would be maybe Spring or summer of 1926. She looks to be around a year, non?
Notice the tabby cat Grandma is holding in the photo. I have another, blurrier, picture of Grandma standing up holding that cat. She’s a little older and the cat is too. In that photo, the cat looks to be around 3-6 months. I’m comparing to photos of Kaline here. In the blurrier one, the kitty is almost as tall as Grandma is, and very tolerant of being girl-handled by a toddler!
I only knew Grandma to have one pet, Aunt Brandy. They had parakeets while Mom was growing up, but a parakeet isn’t a pet in the same way that a dog or cat is. Birds don’t cuddle!
Aunt Brandy was a toy poodle. Grandma and Papa had a very good friend who was Aunt Brandy’s Mom and who spoiled Aunt Brandy like crazy. When she passed away Grandma and Papa adopted her dog. I should mention that Aunt Brandy was “Aunt” to me, not them. They called her Brandy! When Mom started referring to her as “my furry sister,” I started calling her “Aunt.”
Grandma and Papa adapted their travelling style to include frequent stops and finding pet-friendly hotels. When they came to visit, Aunt Brandy was always in tow. She and our collie, Missy, got along well.
I remember when Aunt Brandy met my cat, Ritchie, for the first time. Ritchie seemed to like dogs, but dislike other cats. I imagined that because he was a runt, the scar on his ear when I found him may very well have been from a scuffle with another cat. If the dogs in the alley around Noni’s house were kind to him, or even just left him alone, that would explain it. The only dogs he knew were the big dogs from the alley and his full-grown collie sister at home. Then he was introduced to Aunt Brandy, a dog he stood nose to nose with. He just sniffed her all over with the oddest look, like he’d never seen a cat-sized dog before. It was a source of giggles for everyone!
When Aunt Brandy died, she was cremated. Grandma said she didn’t want another pet because they traveled too much. Grandma and Papa kept her urn until 1994, when Papa passed. Aunt Brandy’s remains were buried with Papa.
When we were cleaning up at Grandma’s house, Rina saw a painting of a dog in the bedroom and started thinking of dog-fans that might want it because it was a pretty painting. I stopped her there, “No, I want that one.” Rina was surprised because I’m a cat-person! I had to explain to her that it wasn’t just a dog painting, I knew that dog.
Seeing the very young pictures of Grandma with the tabby explains a lot, though. Grandma started the habit of Christmas gifts for pets when we got “Inky,” which was what she called Ritchie because he was “black as ink,” save for a few single white hairs on his chest. There were treats for Missy from Grandma too, but it started when we got Ritchie. We have kitty afghans. Grandma made one for Azzie when she starts crocheting again and she started making Kaline’s as soon as she saw Kaline’s picture on my blog!
When she came to visit us, Grandma always put extra milk in her breakfast cereal. Azzie would lay on the couch next to her while she ate breakfast and she saved a couple spoons of milk in her bowl that she put on her lap and Azzie would sit on her lap and drink. She definitely fawned over Kaline when she first met her too!
Growing up, we had three different dogs. When we first moved to the suburbs, we had Mesa, a German Shepherd/Toy Collie mix, then Gent (Regentitano), a purebred English Pointer, and then Missy (Melissa Mesa of Meadowbrook), our papered Collie. But my first pet was Chinker, the cat who knew just how far to stay away that she could watch the baby without getting grabbed by the baby in the playpen, but Chinker did watch and protect me! I don’t recall being told the whole story in detail, but Chinker was gone before we left Detroit. Dave was a baby when we moved and I think he never knew Chinker, his first pet was Mesa. He’s a dog-person, I’m a cat-person. Hmm…
You may get over your first crush and move on to find happiness and love with another, but that first pet will shape your admiration of the domestic animal world forever!