Monthly Archives: April 2017

Our Furry Friends #8

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Last author in our series to reminisce about past pets is Kate Murdoch. She’s here today to tell us how to secretly keep animals when your parents are dead set against it. Kate exhibited widely as a painter before turning her hand to writing. Her focus on historical fiction, she also enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

Kate donated two short stories to our new anthology Paws and Claws, one featuring a snake, the other some kangaroos.

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The Silverfish Tin

I was a bookish child, spending hours in my room writing stories or drawing. My greatest wish was to have a puppy, but we used to go away on the weekends and my parents said it was ‘impractical.’ I discovered the real reason when I grew up — they’re not madly into animals. To stave off my abject canine longing, I decided to keep silverfish. In the drawer of my dressing table sat a cough lozenge tin containing the squirming creatures and pieces of wool for them to eat. As a teenager and beyond I decided they were absolutely revolting, but at eight I would open the tin and stare at them crawling over each other. My brother and I also kept tadpoles, but that was problematic when they transformed into frogs and leapt out of the tank to freedom.

There was a happy ending to this pitiful story— at age thirty-seven I welcomed a Bichon Frise puppy, Oscar, to our household.

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Our Furry Friends #7

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Today we have Faye Kename here to tell us about a rather special cat. Faye claims to be two people, one of which is not a carrot, the other is J Cassidy. They’re both the same person. It’s not a little confusing.

Faye donated a short story to our latest anthology, Paws and Claws. It also contains a cat.

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She was never mine

The first day I moved into my house, we started by unpacking boxes in the kitchen. It was a hot day and the air inside was stale so we opened the back door and got to work, when a tiny little tabby cat wanders in like she owns the place and starts meowing at us. The neighbour told us that she used to live in the house, that when the people before us moved out they left her behind. As far as she was concerned, she did own the place. I let her come and go after that, thinking that she was just missing her old owners. I’d come home from work and she’d be waiting on the fence. She always knew what time I’d be back. I’d unlock the door and she’d shoot in between my legs as if afraid she’d get shut out, start wolfing down the food I put down for her. I didn’t tell her owners I was buying her food, I didn’t want them to think I was stepping on their toes, but she was just so cute and always ate the whole bowl in one go, as fast as possible. After that she’d come and sit on my lap while I worked – alright, procrastinated – and sleep for a couple hours. I didn’t mind not being able to get up.
She’d chase her tail. I thought she was playful at first but soon it became apparent that she just didn’t like her tail. There wasn’t any problem with it that I could see, but she’d attack it with teeth and claws, hiss and spit at it. It was best to leave her to it when she got going, else your hands would get caught in the fight. She wouldn’t mean anything by it, she wasn’t out to hurt anyone, it’s just that she didn’t notice if something was in the way when her claws were out and she was trying to catch it.
Unless it was cold, she always meowed at the back door at the same time every day. That’s when her owners were home from work and could let her back in. Sometimes she’d be doing whatever cats do all day and left it too late to be let in, so she’d come to my door and in her own vocal way ask if she could sleep over. It wasn’t often, she preferred being at home, but sometimes. She wasn’t interested in toys. She wasn’t one for playing at all really. She just liked to sit and purr, loved cuddles but hated being picked up. She was confident, definitely Queen Bee, and very protective of her territory which included my back garden along with her own.
One day I came home and she wasn’t there. It wasn’t unusual. She came and went as she saw fit. After a couple weeks without seeing her I got a bit worried about her and made a note to ask her owners how she was. A week later the other half spoke to them, which is when we found out their cat wasn’t their cat after all.
She was a stray.
They let her in at night so she had somewhere warm to sleep, but they couldn’t afford to keep her full time. They thought we knew she was homeless, we thought they took her in after being abandoned. They assumed if we’d wanted to house her we would have.
They ended up calling the RSPCA to collect her after they let her in one night and saw she’d broken her tail. She didn’t need housing, not with everyone looking after her between us, never mind how well she looked after herself, but she did need attention for her tail and with no single owner, who would have put up the money for a vet?
I went up to the local shelter to see if I could take her home. It was quite unfortunate that I couldn’t because of her tail. Without knowing how it was broken, they couldn’t let her return to the area in case it was a person who harmed her, who would try again. Makes sense I suppose, but that didn’t make it any better. Her tail was amputated rather than fixed, given how much she hated it. She was a lot happier without it so it’s no bad thing. It didn’t take long for her to be adopted and I like to think she’s gone somewhere where she can swan about as Queen Bee.
There’s no moral to the story at all. She was just a cat that was never mine, that I wish was still here.

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Our furry friends #6

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Today’s author is Sebnem E. Sanders, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, who lives on the Eastern shores of the Southern Aegean. Her pet memories revolve around two mischievous dogs.

Sebnem donated a short story to our latest anthology, Paws and Claws, featuring not dogs, but a pair of Red Kites.

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Champagne and Caviar

Champagne and Caviar were two male Golden Cocker Spaniel puppies that we adopted when they were eight weeks old. Out of a litter of eight, we chose the best looking male. Then my husband said, “We should also get this naughty one.” He was not as handsome as his brother, but his mischievous eyes mirrored his intelligence. We had only planned to get one, but returned home with two.
Our house in Singapore had a big garden with a separate quarter for servants. We gave the puppies one of the free rooms to spend the night in, until they were house trained. During the day they ran along the vast grounds, getting up to all kinds of mischief. Frightening the Malay postman who hated dogs, their favourite game. They chased his bike, barking after him. He would throw the letters on the doorstep and cycle away, while the puppies opened them on the lawn and read them before we did. A mayhem of torn envelopes and half chewed postcards awaited for us to solve the jigsaw puzzle if we didn’t rush to collect the mail before they did.
Then, things started disappearing. Bahari, the gardener’s brush, my cigarette packs and lighter, combs, hair clips, and other small items. The leader of mischief was Caviar, the naughty one. Champagne did as he was told and followed his brother. As the number of missing items increased, we discovered their den behind the patch of daisies surrounding a tall, flamboyant tree. Some things were recovered, others completely useless, chewed, torn and damaged.
They loved to crunch on ice-cubes, eat apples and salad droppings on the kitchen floor. Grapes were the hardest fruit for them to deal with as they couldn’t figure out how to bite them. Due to the tropical climate, the house was surrounded by narrow canals, covered with iron grids, for discharging rainwater. Caviar managed to find a gap he could fit through and Champagne naturally followed him. At the end of the shallow drain, despair set in when they discovered there was no way they could turn around. In panic, they started barking. We ran to their rescue, trying to find a way of lifting the iron grids. Caviar worked it out, pushed his brother back with his bum, and kept pushing until Champagne figured out how to go backwards towards the other end of the canal. My husband lifted them through the gap, and made sure to cover it to avoid another catastrophe.
That year there were no orchids decorating our patio. They pulled the stems and roots from the perforated pots and laid them out on the tiles with great pride.
An intercom connection to their room provided contact to check up on them from upstairs. They recognized our voice and communicated with us in their language.

Sadly, we didn’t know we would be leaving Singapore for Hong Kong, eight months later. During our visit to the island, I looked for flats that accepted dogs. There weren’t too many among the available ones. But the biggest setback was the quarantine period of six months. How could I leave two eight-month-old puppies in confinement for such a long time? They were used to their freedom, running around the big garden, receiving love and attention all the time.
I visited the Hong Kong kennels, saw the cages where the dogs were kept, and returned to the hotel with tears in my eyes. No, I couldn’t do this to my beloved dogs. It would be unfair to put them through such torture.

On my return to Singapore, I spread the word around. A friend said she could keep them in her house until she found a good home for them. Our last month together was a time of unconditional love and devotion. We swam, went on walks, watched TV and cuddled each other constantly.
The day the packers came, the puppies watched them from behind the glass patio doors, all day, without leaving the spot. I think they understood.
We dropped them at our friend’s house a couple of days later and bid farewell. It was very sad. I cried all the way to Hong Kong, and more during the following days and months.
My friend found two Americans who wanted to adopt them and lived next door to each other. Though the puppies had different homes, they shared the same garden in the complex. I was delighted to hear about this and to know they could still play together.
Two years later, one of the families moved to Indonesia, and they were separated. It has been many years since I left Champagne and Caviar in Singapore, but the memories are still fresh in my mind.

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