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whatsthatsound On February - 10 - 2011

About the name. It has nothing to do with the color of her nose, her mouth, her feet, or her eyes (which happen to be a deep burgundy, in the right light). Nor is it intended to evoke images of diner waitresses or wartime riveters. It isn’t even meant as a tribute to my own mother, Rose. Rather, the family ferret owes her name to my daughter’s peculiar habit for christening pets, combined with the fluidity of the Japanese language as pertains to names. Earlier, we had a pet chipmunk named Risu. That means, simply, “squirrel”. The Japanese word for chipmunk is “shimarisu” (striped squirrel), and my daughter just shortened it to the stripe-less variety. Naming the critter ‘Risu’ was hardly any different than had my wife and I decided to name her “Kid”.

In Rosie’s case, only a tad more thought on the part of Kid (actually, Mika) came into play. Rosie’s official name is “Long”, because ferrets are, that. She looks a little like a lab rat that got caught in a taffy puller. That her name has any sort of character at all owes itself not to my daughter’s lackadaisical naming style, but rather to certain distinct features of the Japanese language. First, there is that notorious pronunciation issue. In Japanese, there is no distinction between the sounds of the English letters ‘l’ and ‘r’, so “long” in Japanese ends up at a midway point between “long” and “wrong”. Now, how do we get from long/wrong to Rosie, you are no doubt wondering? In Japanese, especially where pets, animated characters and children are concerned, official, given names are essentially just starting points. There are all sorts of ways to modify, and thus “cutify” them. For example, at different points, and by different people, Mika has been called Michan, Mikabu, Mikarin, and so on. Certain endearments, particularly “chan”, are standard, and every child, and I would guess most pets, get that tagged onto their given name (which is often subsequently abbreviated). The others just depend on how certain people – parents, friends, pet owners, etc. – feel about certain sounds, and which ones feel right to them when applied to the creature they wish to dote upon.

In addition to Rosie, she also goes by Ronchan, RonRon, and Ronbu from time to time. Rosie is in fact my own Anglicization of what Mika calls her in Japanese, which would more accurately be spelled “Roji” (with a  soft, French pronunciation on the ‘j’). I do rather like the similarity between my mom’s and ferret’s names (as does my mom), however unintentional it may be. It is just one of those happy, bilingual accidents. Found in translation, you might say.

The last place we lived prohibited owning cats or dogs, hence our rather unconventional choices for furry friends. Throughout Mika’s toddler-hood and on through early adolescence, we went through a handful of hamsters, “graduated” to Risu (chipmunks are quite a bit smarter than hamsters, who seem to have no other purpose in the wild than to supply the low end of the food chain), and then finally a ferret. Prior to owning Rosie, were someone to have told me that a creature resembling a stretched out hamster would steal my heart one day, I would have scoffed. What I didn’t realize until we welcomed Rosie into our home is just how intelligent and friendly, and downright adorable, ferrets are, when raised properly. Like dogs, they are a domesticated species with a long history of keeping humans company. If a dog matches a human’s intelligence level at roughly the age of four or five, then ferrets, by my estimation, match up with us at just shy of two. In other words, what is arguably our cutest and most endearing time of life. Looked at from that perspective, perhaps one can better understand my deep affection for lil’ Rosie.

But there is more to it. Rosie came into my life at a time when I was in dire need of the kind of unconditional, nearly automatic, affection that only a pet can provide. I confess that I had put my daughter off for a few years, as she had been pleading for a ferret for that length of time. The reason for my resistance was that, as our experience with hamsters and Risu had shown, it would be I, not she, who would do all the work of taking care of her pet. Ferrets seemed like (and are) more work, and having watched her interest level and commitment decline with each previous pet, that was a burden I was reluctant to take on. As it turned out, in my early forties I fell into a severe depression that lasted for several months. With proper care and support I was able to fight my way back out, and Rosie was a part of that. Both my wife and Mika wisely (and perhaps in Mika’s case, a bit opportunistically) felt that having a fuzzy to look after would be a good form of therapy for me. With my weakened mental condition leaving me too exhausted to protest, the decision was made, and our family welcomed its smallest member. It was, more or less, love at first sight, and although my predictions about having to do all (or nearly all) the work have come true, I have nothing but gratitude toward Mika for her persistence. She got what I wanted (perhaps even needed), but just didn’t realize I did.

What ferrets are, more than anything, is curious, and this is a big, perhaps the biggest, part of their charm. They want to know everything about their world! When they aren’t sleeping (which they almost always are) they are nosing around. They are right there, snout to shoe tip, whenever a new person comes to the door to deliver a package or do some household repairs. A bag brought in containing groceries or clothing back from the cleaners can no sooner settle on the floor than be rifled through by Rosie, who plunges in head first and sniffs around until she has satisfied herself about its contents. There really isn’t any crevice, any hole, neither nook nor cranny, that Rosie, and I suspect all ferrets (as they were bred for heading down rabbit holes and ejecting garden pests), won’t fearlessly and instinctually poke her nose in, and as much of the rest of her body as it will accommodate.

During the warm months, or on sunny winter days, I often take Rosie to a park, or to the river not far from where we live, as ferrets need to run around on occasion to keep healthy. The leash hasn’t been invented that she can’t wiggle out of with an alacrity that would shame Houdini, so the prime criterion is that there be a large expanse of land, such as a soccer field, that offers me an uninterrupted view of her while she scampers about. This wasn’t always the case. Ferrets being such curiosity addicts, in the past I let her play in places that offered enough variety to keep her in constant search mode. That was until the day of Rosie’s (and my) Big Adventure.

Her favorite spot for nosing around was a small wooded knoll alongside the river. It was perfect, in that it offered enough vegetation to provide the sensation of exploring the Amazon to a small critter like Rosie, while at the same time said vegetation was thin enough that I could keep a stern parental eye on her. Most importantly, it didn’t have a lot of natural or manmade holes for her to squirm into, leading who knows where. On this day, her attention was fixated upon an old tree stump, and I crouched near her while she poked around it. Eventually she managed to find a small hole that had been created by erosion around the stump’s roots. I placed my own hand in and probed around, satisfying myself that it had only one point of egress, and then let her in, imagining her popping up in a short while, the color of coffee grounds but fully satisfied that she knew everything there was to know about that hole.

After perhaps twenty seconds, I was puzzled as to why she hadn’t surfaced yet, and reached in to retrieve her. No Rosie. With that first rush of panic that we have all experienced, the ones that our rational minds dutifully rush in to stamp out with assurances that there must be another explanation, I nervously thrust my hand about, to no avail, and to the horrifying realization that my earlier examination had been less than thorough. Ferrets, on the other hand, don’t miss anything, and it was clear that she had found another way out.

Ferrets are tiny. They move low to the ground. They don’t make any sounds. They move in unpredictable ways. Although my logical mind was going into overdrive trying to calm me down with the assurance that it had only been a minute or so at most since I had last seen her, my heart was beating madly because I knew that in fact a minute was sufficient for her to put a fair amount of distance between us, and each added second while I searched had the potential to increase that distance. This was not good.

When one’s eyes are situated a mere inch above the ground, the world one sees is completely different from that which you and I see. The terrain that Rosie was happily gallivanting over now was not the one that I frantically scanned with increasing panic. A small patch of woods that five minutes ago had seemed to hold no secrets had in fact revealed itself to be a labyrinth with seemingly infinite options for getting oneself lost. The proximity to the river also scared me. Rosie can swim, and if she reached the water’s edge I could easily imagine her wading in. Unpleasant scenarios began to multiply. The knoll itself was home to stray cats and large crows. Along the river I had seen the occasional hawk, and once, an owl. If Rosie was lost, the world she was lost in was not likely to welcome her with open arms. Open beaks and talons seemed more plausible.

If you’ve never seen a grown man crying out “Rosie!” in desperation, and then having to explain to concerned folks that it was his ferret, and not his daughter, whose loss was causing him so much anguish, then you’ve certainly missed one of life’s more absurd scenes. Those who came upon the spectacle walked away with a mixture of relief (that it wasn’t a child who had gone missing), puzzlement (a ferret? He’s crying his heart out for the loss of a ferret?) and confusion as to just how much compassion was still owed, when a second earlier you had felt like nothing you could do or say would have been enough. I wondered if perhaps I should apologize to all the good people, out for a pleasant Saturday by the river, who had been led to believe that a parent’s worst nightmare had just played out. In a sense, however, my anguish was related to my daughter, in that I feared that I might actually lose, not her physical presence, but her love. Rosie had won the hearts of the entire family, not just I, and I could only imagine how Mika would receive the news that, through my carelessness, she was gone.

I used my mobile phone to call Mika and explain the situation. She rushed over as soon as she could. We, along with some lovely children who wanted to help, scoured that area over and over. Eventually, it was apparent that Rosie was utterly lost, and as the sky showed signs of darkening it was clear that we would soon have to abandon the search. I couldn’t look Mika in the eye as we headed home, nor my wife when she came back later that evening. I ate in silence, while my wife and daughter, more forgiving than I had imagined, or felt I deserved, were already making plans to go out and buy another ferret, as the house suddenly felt very empty. Dinner might as well have consisted of nothing but paper to me as I mechanically sat there eating, while descending into a gloomy, guilt-laden despair.

Sleep, that night, was a lost cause. I probably never got more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a stretch, as I contemplated what had happened, what I had caused. I feared the return of my depression. I was still in the process of recovery, and was feeling worse at that moment than I had felt since the darkest months. The months before Rosie had brought in light, light that I had just snuffed out. If I did sink back into a mental collapse, I was more or less convinced that I was only getting what I deserved, especially when considering the probable fate I had abandoned her to.

The last little stint of sleep that I got ended precisely before dawn. As I lay staring at the ceiling, a strange notion quite suddenly came upon me. I had better go back and search for Rosie. More than that, I had better go right now! In fact, what I sensed at that moment was: if I get up out of bed, and go now, I’ll find her. If I don’t…..

So I did. I dressed quickly, and was out the door and on my bike, heading toward the river, in the manner of a fireman responding to an alarm. I was speeding along, feeling oddly optimistic. The long shadows of first light pointed like compass needles toward my destination, the knoll where I had last seen Rosie. If nothing else, I considered, an energetic bike ride might tire me out enough so that I could at least get an hour or two of  proper sleep after returning. On my bike, I reasoned, I could start at the knoll and then proceed to cover a lot more territory than I had yesterday on foot. As I cleared the last row of houses before the vista opened to reveal the wide expanse of the river bed, the knoll came into view in the near distance. As I approached it, I saw a cat moving about. Not good, I felt. Dawn was when the strays that made their homes on and around the knoll began their first prowl. It occurred to me that indeed I may find Rosie, or rather what was left of her. I sped along, trying not to think the many uncomfortable thoughts that raced through my head.

What next came into view, at the far end of the knoll, was a shape. A white shape, contrasting strongly with the green of the foliage surrounding it. From a distance, it could have been a plastic bag, or a piece of paper. But as I got closer, it began to look more familiar. Then I observed that alongside it was another shape, the unambiguous shape of a crouching cat. Less than a second later the entire scene was clear. Rosie was there, curious as ever, and less than a foot away from her was an equally curious, and possibly hungry, cat. They were motionless, staring intently at each other. Who knows how long they had been frozen like that, checking each other out? A second? Half a minute? Was the cat about to pounce? Or was it just welcoming this oddly shaped newcomer to the neighborhood?  I wasn’t about to find out. I thrust the bike between them, shocking them out of their trances, and with one swift movement scooped Rosie up in a flash, as the cat turned tail and ran off.

With Rosie safely stuffed into the pocket of my windbreaker, I sped home, ecstatic, and hardly believing. I burst through the door, at just past five a.m., waking everyone up abruptly. “I got her! I found her!” Mika and Junko were as unbelieving as I was. In fact, at first Mika looked at Rosie and wondered if she was in fact another ferret who happened to be exploring the knoll that morning, so final had yesterday seemed and so implausible the chance of ever seeing her again. It was Rosie all right. And she stank! She smelled like every runaway animal does when they make their way home, leaving their owners to wonder just what sort of adventures they had been up to. I took her into the bathroom and scrubbed her off, while my wife and daughter stood behind, still barely believing. “I made it right!”, I remember saying, to no one in particular. Coming so soon after I had experienced the low point that had been my illness, and coming so close to returning to that condition, fetching and bringing back our overly curious adventurer stood out as one of my life’s greatest successes.

With considerably cleaner, but still malodorous, Rosie sleeping on my chest, I lay abed reliving all that had just occurred. Not surprisingly, my thoughts centered on the hunch I had received, the exhortation to “go! NOW!” If indeed the cat had intended to have Rosie for breakfast, then the stress on the importance of timing seemed almost miraculous. Another mere ten seconds or so may well have presented me with a very different scene. Equally curious was finding Rosie only a few meters from where she had gone missing, the same area that I, and Mika, and a troop of pint-sized Good Samaritans had spent hours going over with a fine tooth comb. She had since had another twelve hours to wander, and yet there she was. As if she too were answering a call. The moment felt very blessed, and I lay there radiating gratitude. As the weeks went on, Mika and I observed that our relationship with Rosie became heightened after that episode, in a way that didn’t wear off as one might expect. Although we had loved her before, our affection intensified, as we valued her more, and her return seemed to have been angelically engineered. Years have passed since then, but still that feeling persists.

These days Rosie leads a decidedly less risky lifestyle. For her, it is not as interesting loping over grassy fields as burrowing through wooded knolls, but since I’m the only one of us that managed to learn anything from that earlier misadventure, I’m not taking any chances. Ferrets don’t live forever after all, and in fact their average lifespan is considerably less than a cat’s or a dog’s. Not a pleasant thought to be sure, but neither is it one that I dwell on. I’m more interested in enjoying every precious moment of time I have with Rosie, the little gal that got away. And I got back.

Written by whatsthatsound

Writer, Illustrator, Curmudgeon. Ferret Owner. Tokyoite, formerly Ohioan. Much nicer in person.

53 Responses so far.

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  1. kesmarn says:

    I always knew Rosie had a special place in your heart, WTS. Now I know why.

    We’ve had a couple of episodes like that around here, too. The most recent being when my cat, Jordan, used his super-slasher powers to rip a hole in a screen and slip through. Like you, I mentally reviewed the prospect of having to break the news to the then 7 year old Fave, and the Niagara of tears that would follow. (And I was pretty unhappy with the notion of losing my Bad Boy, myself, of course.)But I had to go to work, so the search had to be given up for the time being.

    I still have the recorded message from my son on my cell phone (over a year old) that was left while I worked: “Heeeee’s baaaaa-aaack!”

    That was a happy drive home from work.

    Animals! They unintentionally can break our hearts. And heal them.

    *EDIT* Rosie as Alice headed to her subterranean Wonderland is just a terrific illustration.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thanks for the kind comments and great story, Kes. It seems like so many people have had similar experiences that it appears to be almost archetypal. Maybe the critters are all in cahoots about it!

  2. BigDogMom says:

    WTS, I just want to thank you for a wonderful story like this to start my day off. You had me going there for a while when Miss Rosie decided to venture off, I too have had a lost pet, those moments of anxiety and fear of loosing a beloved one…then the relief when they are found.

    Our mutt Charlie, a/ka Chuck or “big red”, one day decided to venture off and wound up at one of the Churches about 10 miles away from where we lived. I remember the frantic search for him, all hands were on deck, even the neighbors got involved and drove around the neighborhood seeing if they could spot him. We all finally gave up around midnight.

    Very early the next morning the phone rang, it was the Minister of the local Church were Charlie decided to spend the night, sleeping alongside the Minister’s dog…in his dog house! The Minister, much to his surprised, discoved the two of them curled up together when he went to bring his dog his breakfast.

    After Charlie’s big adventure, he decided it was best to stick around house and not be too far from the comfort of a nice warm bed, I don’t think the dog house thing sat too well with him!

    Thank you, thank you again! :smile:

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Wow, interesting story! And very parallel. I bet there are millions of stories like this.
      Very happy you enjoyed the story, BDM

  3. KillgoreTrout says:

    “Hey, nice marmot, man!”--The Dude

  4. Chernynkaya says:

    What’s--just an outstanding piece--the writing, the topic and the amazing illustration!

    I have never suffered with debilitating depression, but almost-- several days when I take to my bed, or days when I have no energy or desire to do anything. My ex husband, however, suffered with a terrible bout and at one point I feared for his life. (With medication and therapy, he has long since recovered from that episode, but he is still susceptible.) I can completely understand how losing Rosie would tip that precarious balance and send you plunging back to the depths. And as you write, how FINDING Rosie in that near-miraculous way would save you.

    What’s I love this story. I love your take on things and I appreciate your generosity. Thanks for this and thanks to Rosie.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thanks, Cher! I always get a lot out of your comments about my stories, just as I get so much out of all that you offer.
      The Planet is a great place, and it’s fantastic to see all the new faces!

  5. Questinia says:

    Rosie lived an entire life unseen by her owners. Even though she was lost on a civilized knoll, she was given the opportunity to be freely feral and private with plenty of requited inquisitiveness. We should all be so lucky to have that at least once in our lifetimes.

  6. Helen-Wheels says:

    OH and I can’t overlook the gorgeous illustration. Wow, I’m really impressed!

  7. Helen-Wheels says:

    What an awesome story. Thanks so much for sharing it. The love and companionship of the animals we are fortunate enough to be guardians of is invaluable.

  8. funksands says:

    Isn’t it astonishing where the truly memorable emotional moments of our lives come from? If you were able to tell that story to the you of 20 yrs ago, it would have been met with polite, smiling puzzlement. The you of 20 yrs from now will nod, remembering every moment as if it were yesterday.

    Thank you for story, you have a lovely way with words and I look forward to more.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thank you funksands. Very true what you wrote about perspectives from different points in our lives.

      If you are interested, please check our archives here. You’ll see I’ve written and illustrated quite a lot, on a variety of subjects.

  9. PocketWatch says:

    Oh, I also wanted to say that, while I get a lot of strange looks walking a cat, there is a point to it. Just like when I had dogs, I made a point of always walking them on the same route. That way, if any got loose, they would likely be on that route through force of habit, and know their way home.

    Same with Maggie. She has a routine and now knows her way home.

    Also, she feels no need to bolt out that oh-so-enticing open front door. She knows all she has to do is bug me enough, and she gets to go out and ‘be a cat’ for a while.

    There is peace of mind in all that, and I firmly believe that it is better for her mental and emotional state not to be confined to an apartment her whole life.


    • whatsthatsound says:

      They actually make special leashes for ferrets, but Rosie just considers them challenges to be conquered! Like I said, Houdini!

    • Helen-Wheels says:

      I always chuckle when I see a cat being walked on a leash. It’s about the cutest thing ever. My life is dog-saturated, so seeing a cat on “walkies” is just oh so entertaining.

      • PocketWatch says:

        I rarely even use the leash any more… I hook her up when we are someplace new, or when we are near anything that could be dangerous or she could get into places like deep woods where I cannot easily follow.

        Other than that, I just follow her or she follws me, and we have a nice 30 -- 60 minutes of exploring, or, as I call it, patrolling.

        When I went on a trip a while back, I had to leave her at a cat resort in town (great place…). When I pulled up, I took Maggie out for a walk on theproperty to sort of make sure she was calm and interested. They were watching out the window.

        I told them they didn’t have to walk her, she would be just fine in the large room they have set up for cats.

        When I got back, the lady told me they walked her outside every day, and people were stopping in the road to watch and ask questions. It was hilarious, and they were so amazed how calm she is about it all.


        • KillgoreTrout says:

          My neighbor, a sweet little lady in her mid 60s, would walk everyday with her cat. No leash. That would faithfully follow behind her by 10 or 20 feet, investigating all the while.
          At times, the cat would walk my neighbor. Staying ahead 10 or 20 feet. Investigating all the while.

  10. PocketWatch says:

    Great story, and wonderful writing.

    I look forward to seeing more.

    I have been a ‘dog person’ my entire life. Now, quickly approaching 60 and living alone in an apartment with a bit of an unregulated schedule, having a canine companion would be really unfair to a mutt.

    However, a cat, on the other hand…

    About 6 months ago, I was at a PetSmart nearby on the way home from a round of what I laughingly call “golf,” stopping in to pick up some aquarium supplies (fish are easy to keep and comforting to watch). The local county humane society was having an “adoption day” at the store. The dogs and cats are fully immunized, have a tracking chip installed, are spayed or neutered, and are “ready to go.” Plus they give you all sorts of coupons for the store to get set up. An adoption fee covers costs.

    Well, I started to look at the cute fuzzy critters, mainly because I like cute fuzzy critters, and a cat caught my eye. Curled up with three others in an open cage, black on white, green eyes, and just looking at me. Hmmm… I looked at the summary paper they had hanging on all the cages for each animal, and I see “female, spayed, likes to have her tummy rubbed, not a ‘lap cat’ but is very friendly.”

    Just my style. After a lot of discussion, interviewing, paperwork, instructions, shopping, and time in the ‘test room,’ I had a cat.

    Maggie is her name, and she is a buddy like none other. We taught each other how to take cat walks every day, sometmes for an hour or more, both on a leash and off. She sleeps curled up in the crook of my arm every night. She “guards” the apartment parking lot every evening, racing around when she sees anything moving. And she has made friends of three stray cats that roam around the property on our evening walks as well as several dogs and thier owners we meet. Unbelievable!

    I have no point to all this, other than to say that pets make a huge difference in our lives, and I would encourage anyone to rescue a dog or cat. The only way to go.


    • whatsthatsound says:

      Maggie sounds like a treasure. I was never much into cats, like you I had always been a dog person. But two strays here in Tokyo changed my perspective totally. They were (are, I should say, except they are no longer strays) the friendliest and most loving critters you could imagine! So both were pretty much adopted by the entire neighborhood. I used to look forward to having one, or both, of them calling out to me or running up to me on my way home from the station.
      But both eventually ended up being adopted, by folks here in the neighborhood. I still see them occasionally, but it’s not the same. They are house cats now, and aren’t as friendly as before. But I’m so happy it worked out so well for them.

    • Mightywoof says:

      My Woofter is a rescue dog and I agree with you -- it’s the way to go!!

      I’ve always been a dog person from a family that have always been dog people but one day in September 1990 -- an election year when enumerators were still going door to door to put your name on the voters roll -- I opened the door to two enumerators and behind them was the most adorable kitten I have ever seen in my life. The enumerators said she must be lost as she’d been following them for blocks mewing piteously. So I made one of my better decisions and picked her up and brought her indoors …….. I had no idea what to do with her, having never been near a cat before, and I was sharing my life with 2 rambunctious but wonderful beagles who were very interested in this new furball. On closer inspection I found said kitten was covered in fleas -- eeeeek. One panic call and visit to the vet for food and advice later and I had a cat in the house. What a creature she was -- she ruled the house and the beagles quickly learned that she was a She Who Must Be Obeyed -- she was never declawed and many the time I could hear her and Barney Beagle racing up and down the stairs chasing each other until Barney yelped and I knew she’d ended the game with a swat at his nose (claws extended). We lost my beloved Kitty Kat last year at the age of 20 years, 5 months and 1 day -- I mourn her still.

      No point to this story really -- just that I understand how Dog people have their hearts melted by a Kat!!


      • BigDogMom says:

        Sorry for your lose mightywoof, I understand your grief, we lost our older dog this past year, there is still a pain in my heart when I look at photo’s of him.

        I was brought up in a family that had always had cats, dogs, fish, rabbits and a backyard full of chickens..we had a regular farm going in suburban CT, much to my father’s dismay.

        I was never big on cats until one day when I was 10 or 11 yrs. old, I was walking home from a friends house and a big white Cadillac, the ones with the fins on the back, drove by real fast, almost hit me. When I looked up after gathering myself, the car slowed further up the road and something was thrown out of the car. As I caught up to the bag, I noticed it was moving…low a behold a little furry head popped out, it was a kitten!

        I immediately scooped the kitten up and ran home, told my mother what just happened and asked if we could keep it, knowing darn well that dad was going to hit the roof if another animal was brought into this house. Mom, the one who was the reason for this menagerie, promised to run interference, using her usual charm to get dad to acquiesce once more.

        Well Abby was the only cat that I could say was “mine” in my lifetime…she turned out to be a beautiful Maine Coon Cat that was as large as one of our mutt’s Charlie, and yes she too, was “She Who Must Be Obeyed”…she ran that house and our block for 23 yrs….dogs cowered in her wake and I believe her kill numbers of voles, mice and snakes where in the hundreds…Dad was the most upset when she passed and I have not to this day had another cat, she was that special.

        • Mightywoof says:

          Wow BDM -- 23? And I was feeling cocky ‘cos Kitty reached 20. People are so damned cruel to animals -- if I got hold of someone who threw an animal out the window I just wouldn’t be responsible for my actions!

          ‘They’ always say you choose a dog but a cat chooses you -- how true that is. I’m so glad you had Abby -- there really is something special about a cat (from someone who disliked cats until 1990!!) -- when you are chosen by a cat you feel like you just got elected to be queen!!

          • BigDogMom says:

            She was special, I have yet to have another cat “pick me”…hubby has a large ferial cat at the boat yard, who we call “Cappy”, short for “Captain”, that has chosen our boat blg. as his home for the last 3 yrs.

            He runs the show down there, sleeps on the bow of our boat in the summer time and struts up and down the dock watching for the bait fish to come in at high tide..he is an amazing fisherman!

            • PocketWatch says:

              When I lived in NY in Westchester County, I lived in a small enclave, middle class neighborhood. The people across the street had cats, and one was a white and brown tom we called ‘The Mayor.’ He’d just show up any time something was going on and just walk right in to anyone’s house or apartment and make sure everything was to his satisfaction.

              The most confident cat I’ve ever seen!


      • PocketWatch says:

        A couple of random comments:

        I came across a product a couple of years ago after I spent a year fighting bedbugs that I picked up somewhere on my travels. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING worked. I tried it all. Then I came across this product… Google ‘Cedarcide’ or ‘Best Yet.’ Totally non-toxic to pets or human, cedar oil based, and got rid of the problem in one fell swoop.

        Works like a charm on fleas, ear mites and anything else I have come across. And it makes the place smell like a cedar closet! (It will kill fish and some plants.)

        Second, declawing. Maggie came that way, front paws only.

        After having read up on this subject, I have come to the conclusion that it is a bad thing, the equivalent of taking off the first knuckle of each finger of your hand.

        I see Maggie trying to climb trees chasing a squirrel, and I feel bad. If I had a choice, I would not do it. Just sayin’


        • Helen-Wheels says:

          I have Best Yet! And I had no idea it works on bedbugs. Good to know. It’s great stuff to have on hand, for sure. Not 1 flea in my place with 2 big dogs who hike in the park every day.

          • PocketWatch says:

            The manufacturer is actually 15 miles from where I live. I went and talked to them for a couple of hours.

          • PocketWatch says:

            Maggie had ear mites when I got her home. The typical vet medication takes 6 weeks, with applications every day.

            One squirt in each ear and rubbing it in… over and done.

            That stuff is amazing.


        • Mightywoof says:

          It is the equivalent of taking off the first knucle of your hand and -- I don’t care who I offend -- it’s an evil practice 👿 ….. I’m sorry Maggie can’t climb trees although, with my experience with Kitty, she may have found that once she’d done it she wasn’t all that interested in doing it again! I had a small ornamental tree in my garden and Kitty had no interest in climbing it -- one day I put her on the lowest branch and she just sat there looking at me with a ‘why the heck did you do that’ look on her face.

          I found with Kitty that following her around with a water spray bottle cured her pretty quickly of trying to destroy furniture -- that, and a scratch pad! I don’t know why people mutilate their cat. I never could cure her of jumping up on tables -- my Woofter could never understand why I was so upset when he jumped up on the table to sit next to Kitty :roll:

          • Helen-Wheels says:

            It’s illegal to declaw cats in many cities in CA. I’ll be happy when the barbaric practice is gone for good.

            I feel the same way about ear and tail cropping for dogs. Why should they suffer for their guardians’ vanity?

            • PocketWatch says:

              I used to have a Doberman, and while I have no problem with tail docking for some sporting breeds as a practical matter, I would never put a dog through ear cropping again, even though she turned out beautifully.

          • PocketWatch says:

            And, of course, now, little ‘fuzzy butt’ wants her walk, so I must leave.

            She will likely quickly come to realize that is just as cold out the front door as out the patio door, but no amount of explaining or argument will convince her!


          • PocketWatch says:


            Maggie has the run of the place. I even put a board across the tops of the kitchen cupboards so she can get up top and view the place from her ‘on-high’ perch, like cats are wont to do. It IS her kingdom, after all. I just live here and cater to her every whim.

            • jkkFL says:

              My sister gave me a sign that says:
              A Cat lives here
              with her staff.
              And while I have 2 cats, Sam being a far larger male, it is She who must be obeyed here also!
              She is an 7# ball of silver fur with the temper of a brutal dictator!
              Both are shelter cats, and when I brought her home she wasted NO time setting her home in order- starting with Sam, an older and apparently wiser cat! Persia rules everything, food, beds, even the litter box!
              If she decides Sam needs to leave it, he goes- and more than once, after putting him out- will walk away!!
              There are few decisions that will bring more joy and laughter than taking a shelter animal to a forever home!

    • PlatoSunTsu says:

      “The only way to go.” I couldn’t agree more.
      One rescue dog and one rescue cat in this house.
      Ya know PW, I’ve always been a dog person myself and well I like to say I’ve known a few dogs that are/were better ‘people’ than some people I’ve met.
      Have you seen the Dogs Decoded: Nova special, very interesting, it’s on Netflix if you’re interested.

      • BigDogMom says:

        Morning Plato and PW, you will notice that here at the Planet there are many animal lovers, sometimes I wonder if “OT” was created just for us pet owners to discuss our beloved creatures!

        With an animal, they are who they are, warts and all, that’s the beauty of them. They live life naturally, by an instict that has been bread into them over millions of years in order to survive and live together. Unlike many of humans who hide behind preconceived notions of how we humans should act in order to survive, which at times is more brutal than the animal world.

        • PocketWatch says:

          I have never met a human who didn’t like animals that I could ever say I liked. They were usually total assholes. Maybe there are exceptions out there, but I have a feeling…


          • PlatoSunTsu says:

            Good point, when I meet someone that feels the need to tell me they don’t like animals, I immediately distrust them. there’s at least some sociopathy going on there…IMO.

          • BigDogMom says:

            PW, have you ever noticed that many on the right are not pet owners? And if they are, they are strictly for working farms, ranches and hunting…they are not family pets.

            I believe that people with a conservative mentality that I have known don’t like to let their guarde down and loving an animal truly opens your heart up…

            • Helen-Wheels says:

              Lack of compassion for animals = lack of compassion for people.

              Lots of both on the right.

  11. boomer1949 says:


    Excellent piece.

    It is amazing how we humans mesh with our pets. I agree with Kalima and believe it is the unconditional love mirrored back to us that makes our critters so special.

    It is disheartening to see us treat each other the way we often do. Actually, it is a shame because a smile or a kind word could make a world of difference to someone on any given day. I can only hope that someday our species gets a clue.

    And as Kalima wrote,

    The illustration is stellar as always.

    Your art is a gift and a privilege to experience. Thank you! :smile:

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi boomer! Yeah, me too. I really hope our species gets a clue. We seem to have lost our way somewhere up the evolutionary ladder.

      And thanks for the very kind words about my artwork!

  12. Mightywoof says:

    Outstanding WTS! Like Kalima, my heart was in my mouth reading of Rosie’s adventure and I had started to grieve at the point when you had to go home sans Rosie -- the fear that I’m sure we all feel when it comes to our furry friends, “where are they, I can’t see them, oh no I’ve lost him/her”, was making my heart race.

    I have vowed that once my Woofter crosses the rainbow bridge (what an awful euphemism that is) I will not let another fur baby steal my heart -- the joy of sharing their lives is wonderful but the pain of their loss is becoming more than I can bear; but I have to tell you that your Tale of Rosie has me curious as a ferret over what it would be like to live with one. I love your love for her and I’m so glad she pulled you back from the brink of your ‘black dog’. Thank you for sharing Rosie with us.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thanks for your kind comments, Mighty. I can totally understand that point of view. The pain is awful. But on the other hand, I think I’ve pretty much decided to spend the rest of my life in the company of a ferret or two. They’re just so darn lovable, and I need all the love I can get!

  13. whatsthatsound says:

    Thanks so much, Kalima! Yes, I feel it was a kind of telepathy too. And I agree with everything you write. We humans have forgotten a lot that the animals seem to hold to. I think one of the great tragedies of our age is how we have marginalized our association with the other species we share this planet with, but at least we have pets!

  14. Kalima says:

    Wts this is such a truly delightful story of the love and understanding that our animal friends can teach us every day. Reading of Rosie chan missing, my heart was in my mouth the whole time, I’ve had one of my kitties missing before. The anguish of thinking about them outside in a world they had never known, drove me to tears. A friend found her in a neighbour’s garden, frightened and hissing. For his good deed he received a strong bite on his right hand near his thumb which in turn became infected. He couldn’t paint again for a month. My joy was bittersweet.We found locks for all of our mosquito screens after that, making sure that it never happened again.

    I understand also the help we ultimately receive from our little friends when we are in need of comfort. We never speak a word of course, but sense their deep concern and unconditional love they give us so willingly, and I often have to wonder when it was that people started to forget how good it feels to give instead of taking. I mourn that loss often.

    I’m so glad you found her, and I believe that it could have been some sort of telepathy. The kind of feeling a mother might get when her child is in danger, or knowing who is on the other end of the phone when it rings later than usual in the night. Rosie chan wanted you to find her, and you did. Beautiful story, thank you for sharing it with us. The illustration is stellar as always.

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