Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Menagerie

By Kerry Schafer

I hadn't realized until I started thinking about this post that all of our pets are rescue animals of one kind or another, cats, dog, and even Survivorman the Goldfish. Let me present them in order of their appearance in the family.

Max (short for Maximus) was born feral, and has been with me since before the Viking.No, he'd not dead in this picture, just enjoying a little sun on Elephant Ass Rock. His mother gave birth to a litter of kittens in a shed in our backyard, in the days when we lived in suburbia and had a back yard. After days of setting out food we succeeded in live trapping all of the kittens, but mama was too wary and I never did catch her. For about a week I had a bathroom full of hissing, spitting little balls of fur and teeth and claws, so wild they climbed the shower curtain when anybody walked in. My oldest son was eight or so at the time, a gentle soul who loved animals. He spent hours just sitting on the floor talking to them, and little by little they settled down and allowed themselves to be touched. Max was the first to purr when Ryan petted him - so he was the one we kept. Sadly, he is now an outdoor cat, having decided that the world is his litterbox and scratching post, and that he is above all rules of indoor behavior. He is appalled by the injustice of this, at least when winter rolls around, and is adept at hiding beside doors and darting into the house. Here he is waiting at the slider, alternately giving us the "poor kitty" look and the evil eye. (Note: the Viking made him an insulated cat house, all warm and cozy. He'd rather sit here.)

Riddick came next.

We were moving and not in the market for a dog, but when we met him we knew he belonged to us. He was in a foster home - his people had kept him on a short chain in the back yard, forgetting to give him water, just throwing his food on the ground. In spite of mistreatment in his early life, he has the sweetest disposition ever. He and Max are buddies - they even hunt together. I once rescued a chipmunk being tormented by both cats and the dog - they'd formed a triangle, all taking it in turn to make a move when the little guy tried to make a break for it. Riddick can snatch a grouse out of the air. He eats all of the mice and gophers the cats catch for him. Sometimes he catches his own. At night, if the coyotes are howling, he joins in with the most eerie, freaky loud howling noise known to man. Here he is, chilling with Max after a walk. You have to look for Max - he loves to go camouflage when I'm trying to take pictures.

This cat - known to some of you as my feline assistant - used to be known as the GDC in polite company, or the Goddam Cat for everyday:

Mostly now we just call her Kidders. The Viking bought her at a garage sale, when she was tiny and innocent looking. Why such a name for such an adorable cat? Let's see - as a kitten she could shred an entire roll of paper towels if left home alone during the day, and spread the shreddings far and wide. Toilet paper had to be kept locked away, for the same reason. She loved to play in water and the Viking came home one day to discover she'd managed to turn on the faucet. Her name was my fault really - he was trying to find a name for her, and I suggested he might as well call her what I was pretty sure she thought was her name by now. (Let it be noted that while there may have been yelling going on, she is the Viking's princess. He cannot sleep until she is safely in for the night. She shares his yogurt. He offers up all sorts of little treats on her altar. She responds by tormenting him at every possible opportunity.) During one stage of our existence when the Viking and I were conducting a long distance relationship, she traveled back and forth with him when he came to visit on weekends. No cat carrier for her - she rode on his shoulder, attracting all sorts of attention from people in the other cars on the highway.

A rescue fish? Only at our house. Survivorfish may be the luckiest goldfish on the face of the planet.

The Walmart pet department had him slated to be a feeder fish. A couple of years ago the Viking decided to put some goldfish in our seasonal pond as a mosquito deterrent. This pond has water in the spring, but by the end of summer it turns to nothing but mud. The fish were meant to be expendable - eat mosquito larva in the spring, and then die. They're only feeder fish. Right. The Viking happened to notice one fish swimming around in the last little puddle and immediately went into rescue mode. Said fish came home in a canning jar and was established in his own little kingdom, (a glass cookie jar that happened to be on hand) where he has been fed and cared for now for several years. Every spring, the Viking threatens to put him back in the pond, but I think his fat and lazy future is pretty well assured.


  1. Ha! Autolycus is a TP shredder. We give him his very own roll for Christmas each year. But if you come to the boat or to the house, you'll have to hunt for a roll of TP. It's all hidden away.

    I love the rescue fish.

  2. Ahhh...I love me some feral cat. Husband and I laugh about how ours have a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome...there's no way that they would deign to be called "domesticated."

    The rescue fish is very, very cool. Does TDC watch Survivorfish, or does she pretty much ignore him?

  3. Go, Riddick! Get the grouse!

  4. Marcella - I honestly had not thought of gifting her with a roll of toilet paper. I'll have to give that some thought.

    Laura - yes, I'd noticed your fondness for feral cats, lol. GDC would rather lust after wild turkeys than pay attention to the fish. She pretty much ignores him.

    KAK - he can get the grouse. Just fine. But he absolutely is NOT sharing.

  5. The process of redomesticating cats is an ongoing challenge. That, and the saving of fish. Party on!

  6. Aw, Max is so adorable soaking in the sun on his Rock :-)

  7. Rescuing pets is awesome. You rock. =o)