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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paws for Reflection...Introduction

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.  Anatole France

I cannot imagine a life lived without animals. 
Suzi, the faithful corgi who guarded my pram

Ever since I was a baby there has always been an animal's beating heart in our household. As a child in Kenya, Suzi the corgi dog guarded my pram. After her untimely death (snake bite, my parents said) she was followed by the terminally stupid "guard dog", Corrie, who only barked at white police men (it was colonial days) and had her blanket stolen from underneath her, a miniature dachshund (who thought he was a rottweiler) called Tinker and overseeing them all was the supercilious Siamese cat, Peta, who loathed my mother and adored my father.
Peta, the supercilious Siamese

When I was ten the family moved to Australia and our first Christmas my well meaning aunt, who had not read the terms of our flat lease, presented my brother and I with a small grey and white kitten, who was given the Swahili name Simba (meaning lion). Simba survived a terrible car accident that had him holed up in the living room of our tiny flat with a broken leg for months. Despite a limp and a stiff left leg "Simmie" lived to a great old age. My parents one attempt to bring a dog back into their lives, the little corgi puppy called Rufus ended in his early death due to a hereditary problem. Heartbroken they never tried with a dog again.

Simba, with his stiff left leg
Marriage brought a succession of cats beginning with Shasta the black rescue cat who was a wedding present and unfortunately disliked small children and could no longer stay with us after babies came along. Lizzie, the strange little cat who lived in our back yard and had a terror of interiors, Ginger Meggs, the big bad tom who moved in on Lizzie's food bowl and into our hearts, Winston, another rescue, the laid back ginger cat who never learned to cross roads.

Sarah, the neurotic tortoiseshell, and Wingco, the found Russian Blue, were the resident felines when we moved to Singapore. They relocated to my parents, who were at that time mourning the violent death of their dear little cat in a dog attack. They never moved back.
Max, the cat with attitude, none of it good

In Singapore we rescued Max, the tailless black and white drain kitten with attitude (none of it good). At vast expense Max moved back to Melbourne with us but his attitude did not improve. The arrival of the Kat brothers, Oliver and Toby, was too much for Max who packed his bags and left home.

The Kat brothers now rule our lives.

The Kat brothers - Toby and Oliver as kittens
The dear man I have been married to for 28 years does not like dogs...not at all. If you were to meet him you would think "Now there's a dog man", but (my darling husband...DH) DH is a cat man through and through. I have threatened to replace him with a dog on many occasions but despite a family propensity for cat allergies, he adores his cats.

Of course I had two sons and in among the cats, there were fish and mice. Give an animal a name and it binds the animal to you. I have wept buckets over mice!

Family tradition continues and my youngest son and his partner now have a dear little rescue cat who is affectionately referred to (at least by me) as the "grandkitten".

Each animal brought their own personality and their own brand of affection into our lives (even Max...the cat with attitude...had his moments) and over the next few months I would like to share some of their stories with you and I also hope to bring stories from guest bloggers about the animals in their lives in a regular monthly column called "Paws for Reflection"...Please feel free to share your thoughts about significant animals in your lives.