I had a weird childhood filled with weird occurrences. Take for example the time my dog had kittens. We took all precautions when we decided to get her. Mom argued that we didn’t need another dog, not after the last one, but we assured her that as kids, we would promise to take real good care of her. I promised that I would use my newspaper money to get her fixed, my brother promised that he would make sure she was well fed, and my two little sisters said that they would look after her and kiss her and pet her and….
So mom agreed. Dad was never a problem when we wanted a new pet, he loved them all. I remember at one time, when my sister was small, (is it only us newfies that refer to a toddler as ‘small’?) our cat had four litters of kittens in one summer. Tammy would walk around with two baskets filled with little kittens. Where was I..oh ya, our dog and her kittens…
Anyway, we got the dog, and she was female, which sent mom all kinds of negative signals. “What if she has pups?” she asked. Mom liked animals but I don’t think she loved them. She could take them or leave them. Dad, who was as excited as us kids were said that as soon as she was old enough, we would make that trip to the vet to have her fixed. (The dog never forgave us for that act of kindness).
We all worked hard to name the dog. At the time, Star Wars was just out, and there were these cute little creatures named Ewoks. One of the Ewoks was named Wicket, and so our little furry bundle of poop was then known as Wicket.
Wicket was a good little dog who got into the usual mischief that dogs with long coats of fur get into. Once she came home as stinky as a skunk. She was elated to smell the way she did, and we could only guess that she had gotten into raw sewage. Mom nearly dropped as Wicket ran from outside and jumped into Mom’s bed. I still hear the loud scream that my mom let out when a furry, messy dog smelling like sewage jumped on top of her in her bed. Poor mom. Poor us, My brother and I were voted to wash the dog. We used some of Mom’s old clothespins on our nose, and we each wore one of Dad’s sanding masks on our mouth, but even with those precautions, the stink was overbearing. eventually, with the help of a pair of scissors and two bottles of sunlight soap, the little dog was stink free. Ugly as sin, but stink free.
Wicket did many things that made Mom mad, but one thing she did impressed the hell out of Mom, Dad, and virtually everyone in the neighborhood. She had kittens. Got you interested now, don’t I?
Wicket was the kind of dog you did not want sleeping in the house. If she slept in your bed and you happened to move in your sleep and disturb her, she changed like Jeckyll and Hyde and came at you like a wild animal. Ask my little sister Cindy, who woke up do discover that the dog had clamped her teeth into her jaw one morning. Scary stuff. So the dog was sent to sleep in the old dog house we had built her.
I remember coming home from school once, to discover Cindy inside the dog house. Cindy had crawled inside the tiny door to attempt to put shag carpeting in the dog’s house. Cindy always had a soft heart for every animal, including bugs, flies, and fish, and of course dogs and cats.
One morning, we noticed a stray cat hanging around the driveway. Stray cats usually follow my dad around in hopes of moving in.This cat, who we named snowball was a strange looking feline who must have been inbred way too many times. Her nose was off centered and her face just wasn’t right. She was a nice little cat though, even though she was pregnant at the time. When Mom noticed that, we were forbidden to be nice to her, Mom figured that once we befriended this cat, we would be stuck with a litter of kittens that we did not want. So the cat moved in with Wicket.
Okay, we didn’t brag that our dog shacked up with a cat, but it was amazing anyway. One sunny but very early morning, we were awaken by the sound of screeching tires. I looked out the window to discover that snowball was no more. All I could think of were her yet unborn kittens. At least I thought they were unborn. When I ran to see if the little weird cat was alright, I noticed Wicket washing what looked like balls of fur wrapped in sand. The cat had given birth to her litter in the driveway (I did say she was weird, didn’t I) and Wicket came to their rescue. At first I thought the dog was eating them, but she was actually cleaning them, like the mother cat does at the time of birth.
Here we were with four little kittens and no mother to feed and nurture them. My dad’s first instinct was to rush to them and take them away from the dangers of the dog’s sharp teeth and instinctual hate for cats. This was not the case, as Wicket guarded the little furballs with her life.
Things changed around the yard after this day. Wicket, who was usually silly and playful became protective over her kittens. A miracle happened as well, as despite the fact that she was ‘fixed’, she managed to feed the little ones. One morning, we noticed that one of the kittens grew weak. Wicket cared for the others, but neglected this one. We called the vet to ask what we should do, and we were informed that the mother cat focuses on the healthy kittens and leaves the sick to die. The vet went on to say that we should let nature take it’s course and let the mother cat alone with her kittens. We tried to tell the vet that the mother cat was a dog, but she ignored us (probably guessing that we were crazy).
The vet was right, as the next morning, there were only three kittens left. The kittens were large for their age, and they did not act like cats at all. when Wicket barked at passersby, so did the little cats. Well, they didn’t actually bark, but they let out a sound that was definitely not a meow. It was more like a ‘MeowARK!!”
We loved playing with the kittens when Wicket allowed us to do so. Of course, we wanted to keep them, but we also had Mom to deal with, and that was not happening. When the kittens were old enough to give away, we placed ads in the local paper. We got a call from the owners of a farm in a nearby community. They had been looking for some cats to live in the barn behind their house. They wanted to know whether the cats liked to chase mice, as that was the reason they were looking for three cats. We made them promise to take good care of the cats, who we named butch, fido, and snoopy. We sure got funny looks when we told them the names of the cats.
A few years later, I met up with the people who took our cats. I asked how the little critters were, and I was not surprised with their answer. “What kind of cats did you give us?” They asked, adding that each time a car passed, the cats would run from the barn to the road, letting out a sound that sounded like a cross between a meow and a bark. They went on to say that they still had the cats, but that they did not chase mice at all, just cars, and that each time a pack of dogs passed by, the cats would join them.