A New Dog?
After losing Niko, I missed having animal companionship. What I really missed, was Niko, but I knew that Niko was gone. There was no getting him back. I browsed some dogs on petfinder and the local rescues. I was only interested in the ones that looked like Niko. I so wanted to trick myself into thinking I could get Niko back in a new dog if it looked enough like him. However, I know this is not healthy. There is no replacement, and the new dog would be just that, a NEW dog. This doesn’t mean I could not love this new soul for who they were, but I needed to make sure I was ready to accept a soul that was not Niko.
I decided that a dog was just not in my immediate future. I did not have ability to move forward on this. I was not ready, and that was OK.
Update July 2011: After 2 years of being certain I was not ready for another dog, I finally feel that I can open my heart to a canine family member again. We began our search in late July, and found our match in mid August. Hayley joined the family officially on August 20, 2011. Her story is below the kitties. 🙂
Back in 1995, Ned came into my life. A little black fur ball of a cat, that was brought into the pet store I worked in at the time. A barn cat had a litter, and they needed homes for them. I helped find home for the kittens, while keeping the black one to myself. My mother even adopted one of the kittens. I named my new man Ned, after Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.
Ned lived with me at my apartment, but also spent time at my parent’s house playing with his brother and enjoying indoor / outdoor life. He often came with me when I visited friends and enjoyed being social with visitors. He was an all around awesome cat.
I lost Ned in 2003. He disappeared one day and never returned. We believe a fox got him. I will never forgive myself for all the times I didn’t spend with him and leaving him outside with dangers lurking. Nothing prepares you for losing a pet by having them go missing. There is no closure. We tried so hard to find him, or at least find out what happened, and never did. I had thought I would have had so much more time with Ned. He was only 8.
I had wanted to add another cat, but with Niko getting on in years, I decided against it. I wanted all my time and attention going to my Niko while I still had him.
The New Additions
In late August of 2009, Jonathan and I decided to look for some kitty companionship. It would be Jonathan’s first cat, and the first time I would have my own, indoor cat. We spent several weeks looking at and meeting potential kitties from HART (Homeless Animals Rescue Team). We even met a few from Fancy Cats. We wanted to make sure we had the right match for us.
Camry was a little gray kitten, about 5 months old. We met him at our house when the foster mom brought him by for a meet and greet. He was curious, friendly, playful, and confident. He strutted around like he already owned the place. We loved him, despite some food issues he had (which we eventually overcame). He was an easy pick. Since he knew his name so well, we changed it only slightly to Cameron.
The next day we went to a foster mom’s house out in Great Falls to meet Major, a black kitten, and two gray and white girls. After an hour of playing with them, and some other kittens this foster had, a little tabby came and started to bat at my Niko necklace. After some batting, he curled up in my lap. He would occasionally look up at me with his huge round eyes.
Lucky Duck was the name of this little guy. The foster had gone to the shelter to get another cat, and a tiny kitten cried out at her so much, she took him too. He was extremely shy, she said. “He’s never warmed up to anyone”. I felt so special, he had picked me to warm up to. I left there in tears. I had to have him! I searched for names that meant “precious” and “treasure”. This is how I came up with Jasper.
We brought our boys home on 9/2/09. They had not met before. Cameron hissed at Jasper, and Jasper immediately hid under the sideboard in the dining room. He was as feral as could be. We finally caught him and set him up in a small bathroom so he could get used to one thing at a time. I spent hours in there with him, petting him and talking to him. He kept hiding behind the toilet. I brought a brush into action, and as soon as I started to brush him, he began to purr and warm up to me.
It’s been a long, and sometimes frustrating road with Jasper being so shy. One of his nicknames is “Feral”. He has come a LONG way though. He doesn’t love being held, but he hangs out and he is so playful and the most gentle cat I’ve ever known. He will hide when guests come over, but now a days, he’s back out and social in a matter of minutes. He also LOVES dogs.
Cameron was a good influence on Jasper. Apart from the initial hissing, they became best buds. Jasper followed Cam around like he was a god.
Cam ruled the house from the moment he arrived. He is still ‘top cat’ in the pecking order. He is talkative, confident, but also very affectionate. He loves being near us at all times, and spends his nights curled up between us. We went through a major food hiccup with Cam the 2nd week we had him, but he’s come around and is eating like a normal cat now. Sort of…. he is still selective. Only the best for top cat.
We did wrestle with some resentment in the beginning. Niko took so much of my time and attention (rightfully so) that Jonathan worried about the same happening with the kitties. Within a month, we had hit our stride though and it was smooth sailing.
I started volunteering with HART in the winter of 2009. I just helped at adoption events. By the spring, I had also been ‘trained’ to do interviews for potential adopters. It feels great to volunteer and I look forward to helping more and more in time.
At an adoption event at the end of June, we were about to start breaking down. One foster mom (who happened to be Jasper’s old foster mom) had a new litter of kittens there. She bottle feeds and raises a ton of orphans every spring, so they can be adopted. I had not paid attention to the kittens. They were pretty small and getting enough attention from others. But it was slow now, and we were almost done. There was a little black one that was too cute. I picked him up and it was all over.
Little “Cricket” was an instant purr machine. He was so loud and so adorably intense with his gazes. I could not help myself, I had to have him. I ‘dragged Jonathan to meet the little guy at the foster mom’s house that week. I was shocked that he barely put up any kind of fight. He was concerned about how the other guys would adjust, but that was it.
We brought little Cricket home on the 3rd of July. Jonathan wanted to call him Gamble, since we were gambling on a 3rd cat. I decided Chance was a better name, and that is what stuck. Chance loves his brothers and has more energy then any kitten I’ve met. He’s a wonderfully sweet and charming kitty, albeit a bit naughty. He’s also a total daddy’s boy.
We love our new additions. They have brought a lot of joy to our lives, and have helped me heal. I’m still not ready for another dog, and I’m OK with that.
The New Dog
The new dog was a big deal. It took a long time to be ready to consider a dog again. It wasn’t for any lack of love and fun we have with our kitties. Our little men are all super fun cats and we enjoy their antics every day. A dog, however, is different. I do not think a dog is better, but there are things I missed about not having a dog. I missed the walks, especially the ones where Jonathan would join us and we’d have an hour of time to talk to each other, and not just zone out in front of the tv. I also missed training a dog and watching them learn. I know cats can be trained too, but that is a world I don’t know.
We had met a few older dogs. I really liked one of them, but stairs would have been a challenge, so that was a no go. We met lots of other dogs at HART adoption events. Many were nice dogs, but none of them grabbed us. I went to an event by myself, to meet an another older dog, Yogi. She was super sweet, well behaved, and just an all around nice dog, but there was no spark. After Yogi left the event early, I sat down trying to decide if I’d stick around or not. Just then a volunteer walked by with an adorable little dog. She looked like a smaller Niko in the body, though to me, her face is so completely different. They were looking for someone to hold her, so I did. In the 2 hours I held her, I fell in love.
I tried to talk myself out of it, as I told Jonathan about the day’s events. He saw right through it and urged me to consider her. Less than a week later, we brought her home to ‘try’. 9 days after that, she was ours.
We re-named her Hayley. She is gentle, good natured, playful, and smart. She has a lot to learn, but is picking up on her obedience and tricks quickly. I am considering doing agility with her, once we get through some pre-requisite stuff. Maybe in the spring of 2012. She has learned not to chase the cats, and the cats are almost sure she means no harm. She does not, however, understand why they don’t want to play with her.
Hayley is quite different from Niko, but there are things about spending time with her, that remind me of good times with my boy.
Animal update – December 2011
There is a wonderful harmony with all our babies. Hayley and Chance are real playmates. Cameron is still top cat. Jasper prefers Chance as his favorite friend, but I see him headbutt Hayley when he thinks no one is looking. Hayley is super smart and learning new tricks every week.