As some of you might've noticed, I have a dog named Waffles, and I like taking pictures of him. For example:
|Waffles considering his options|
Lots of pictures of Waffles. I am unapologetic about this habit of mine. Waf's a very photogenic dog.
I grew up with dogs, more or less. My dad liked the idea of having dogs, but he didn't seem to appreciate the joy of a dog, so before I was 11 years old we had Boo, a collie; Peppy, a mutt; Butkus, a boxer; Churchill, a Shar Pei; and assorted other dogs along the way, all of which were given to good homes we could not provide.
There were some fish as well. The first aquarium my parents purchased was when I was a toddler--I flushed the fish down the toilet while screaming "BE FREE!"--and then, once I reached the age of reason, they bought another aquarium.
I flushed nothing.
Somewhere in there, we had a rabbit. The rabbit lasted about as long as a dog--about a month.
True story: when I was about four or five, my parents got me a kitten for Christmas. They kept it in the garage overnight, and intended to surprise me with it on Christmas morning. Except my dad coated it in flea powder, which is toxic to kittens, so on Christmas Day I was presented with a dead kitten.
Note: Never put flea powder on kittens.
Pets rely on us for their own survival. Certainly, some pets make a go of it in the wild--if they're let loose, they can become feral, foraging through garbage or whatever. They can sometimes fend for themselves--the parakeets of Telegraph Hill come to mind (and we had a bird too)--but I don't think those fish I flushed down the toilet (BE FREE!) survived. Hell, my first kitten had a rough go of it, and died in the garage on Christmas Day.
Merry Chris....oh christ.
So, before Waffles (here's another picture)
|Me, Greg, Waf, my step-dad|
So, before Waffles (wait--here's another another picture)
|Waf is doing this right now|
So. Before Waf, there was Allie. I wish I had a picture of her. She was a very beautiful cat, with grey and light grey stripes, and... well, a cat. She was a cat.
Allie was a cat I found when I was 10 or so. 5th grade. Whatever age that is. We had several dogs and fish during my time with Allie, which is to say that Allie was a constant during my formative years. Transitions happen. Allie kept me grounded.
I found Allie in a vacant house, as a kitten. The house was under construction, as was she, as was I. We'd recently moved to the new neighborhood, and it felt to me that everything was in flux, so I understood why this tiny kitten was upset being stuck in an incomplete house. As I rode my bike around the still-forming neighborhood, I'd hear her screaming--mewling--from the still-under-construction house, and eventually dragged my mom to the house, demanding answers. Of course what I was asking was, "Why do we feel so incomplete even though we're in a finished home?" but what I actually asked was, "Can we keep her?"
Mom said yes. I named the tiny kitten Allie not, as most assumed, because it was a nice pun on 'Alley Cat,' but because I was a very gay kid, and I really loved Jane Curtain's character on Kate and Allie.
For the kids, here's what Kate and Allie was to me: Golden Girls and Woody Allen movies.
Allie was my favorite pet (until Waffles). There were many dogs and fish along the way, but Allie really was my only steady relationship. It's very important to stress this: most of my life was a transient life. Dogs came and went; houses came and went. Allie, however, was the most consistent thing I had.
My parents eventually got a divorce, when I was an adult and with a little brother 18 years younger. And he, too, has already endured a number of dogs. But never a cat. Never a cat like Allie.
Allie's end came just after I returned, btw, from a trip with friends. When I got back my dad told me he'd given Allie away because I didn't seem to care for her anymore. One of my mom's friends assured me Allie was happier where she was in the proverbial 'farm upstate.'
Here's another picture of Waf.