Our furry friends #5

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Today it’s Tina Rath’s turn, who tells us about a rather notorious pair of cats. Tina lives in London, as an actress, writer, story-teller, and Queen Victoria Lookalike. She’s also the Resident Poet of the Dracula Society.

Tina donated three poems and a short story to our brand-new anthology, Paws and Claws. Not surprisingly, all of them feature cats in one way or another.

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We called them Vlad and Boris – Vlad after Vladislavus Drakulya, sometimes called Vlad Tepes, and Boris for Boris Karloff. If we had got their little sister as well we were going to call her Doris (after Herod’s first wife). They are Mau/Bengal crosses, so they have the pretty silvery spotted fur of the Mau, and the Bengal temprament. And Bengals are well known as mad bustards. We were – after we got them – told about one pair who hollowed out the entire sofa to form a den while their owners were out. Having known Vlad and Boris I am only surprised that they didn’t have the electricity and water supply set up as well.
Vlad and Boris are remarkably pretty. They are also thieves. They brought home their first football when they were quite small. I have no idea where they stole it, or how they managed it. Did a snarling Boris fend off its tiny owner while Vlad made off with it? And how did he manage to carry it? Or did they head it from one to the other? Eventually we had at least four quite large rubber footballs, a horrible pair of Marigold gloves (the Twins lost interest in them after I put them – the gloves – through the washing machine), but the weirdest trophy was a rubber devil mask. It was made on the lines of a balaclava, so the wearer put it over his or her head. It was quite elaborate and brightly coloured…and I could not think what to do with it. You can hardly go from house to house asking your neighbours if they have lost a devil mask? Can you? Well, I would rather not… in the end I put it out with the re-cycling, which was then in open boxes, and it vanished before collection day.
Vlad and Boris have also hunted frogs (which they bring home, unhurt, to play with (did you know how loudly a frog can scream?), smashed flower pots in neighbours’ gardens, and done something unspeakable in the raised vegetable beds next door…it was when I heard myself saying ‘People only notice them because they’re Twins, and so pretty…they’re lovely boys, really…” that I realised we should have called them Ronny and Reggie.

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Out now: Paws and Claws

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It’s the first of April, and unlike the rest of the world we’re absolutely serious. So, no, it’s not a joke – our latest anthology, Paws and Claws, is out and available. Filled with all sorts of creatures, furry, fluffy, slimy, scaled, winged, weird, it tells you stories to make you laugh, make you cry, and make you wonder. As announced, all proceeds will go to Bob’s House for Dogs, a small charity that offers hospice care for older dogs,helps making senior dogs ‘more adoptable’, and ultimately works to try and give more dogs who have found themselves without a home, a forever home.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing and compiling it! It’s on Amazon, in e-book as well as in paperback format. Perfect Easter present, isn’t it?

Get in the mood by watching the trailer!

Our Furry Friends #4

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Karen Eisenbrey, who is today’s woman of choice to tell us about her pet experiences, lives in Seattle, so naturally she isn’t just a writer but also a drummer and backup singer in a garage band.

Karen donated two stories and a few haikus to our upcoming anthology, Paws & Claws.

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Cat People Adopt a Dog

We had always been cat people.
By “always,” I mean my lifetime, which at that time was about nine years. In those days, we had two cats, a petite longhaired calico named Calico and her son, a lanky longhaired orange tabby named Rover.
We’d had short-lived starter pets before: goldfish and a guinea pig. I didn’t know other pets were even an option until my older sister campaigned successfully for a dog.
One day we went to the Humane Society and came home with the world’s cutest puppy. White with black spots, freckled paws, floppy black ears, and one black spot on the top of his head. Because he had hairy feet, a round belly, and ate six meals a day, we named him Bilbo.
Upon first meeting, Calico swatted Bilbo on the nose. He bowed down, said “Yes, Ma’am!” and even as he grew to five times her size, he deferred to her. The dog and both cats romped and played and were great friends, but Calico was always the boss.
So cats weren’t the problem; people were. We cat people had unknowingly brought home a pup with at least three kinds of herd dog in his mongrel pedigree. A herd dog with nothing to herd will find something. Bilbo had natural talent at herding chickens. We didn’t have chickens, but a neighbor a few blocks away did. More than once we found a hen in our yard, harassed and exhausted but unhurt.
He was a dog of strong opinions, too. If he liked someone, he really liked them; if he disliked them, woe be unto them. His likes and dislikes lined up with mine for the most part; I’m still not sure who influenced whom.
While Bilbo was still a puppy, we bought a dog-training book and began to teach him basic commands and a few tricks. He quickly learned to sit, roll over, and shake hands. He would sometimes consent to stay. He would never come when called. I don’t think we even tried to make him stay off the furniture. Because my sister slept in the top bunk and I in the bottom, Bilbo slept on my bed, though I preferred cats. He liked to ride in cars, and loved to ride in our battered old pickup. If we really needed him to come, we’d open the truck door, shout, “Go for a ride?” and he’d leap right in. He was smart about so many things, but he fell for that trick every time.
Sadly, our too-smart dog was more advanced than amateur dog trainers could handle. He was meant to be a working dog, not a spoiled pet. Between the herding and the hostility toward a select few, it got to where we couldn’t let him out of the yard lest he kill a chicken or bite a person. We didn’t have adequate fencing to keep him in, so he had to be tied up. No one was happy, and it was apparently too late for rehab.
Bilbo was put down in his prime because of his owners’ incompetence. Forty years later, I still feel guilty even though it wasn’t my fault. I never wanted a dog but I loved the only one I ever had. I will never have another.