Zoey the Cool Cat in her new sack

Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part one)


I feel very guilty about the death of Zoey the Cool Cat.

Let me explain.

I grew up in Brigham City, Utah, and Kingsville, Texas, both agricultural rural areas then, and now.

Because of their rural nature, I had many “pets” during my youth, everything from ducks, dogs, ponies, and horses in Utah to fish, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, opossums, raccoons, birds, cows, pigs, horses, a 7-foot blue indigo snake, and even a monkey. Sadly, though, I never had any of those creatures for longer than a couple of years. It’s the nature of a farm and youth ignorance.

Texas A&M UniversityWhen I went off to college at Texas A&M University, the only pets I had were those at the animal shelter and those belonging to friends. I missed having a companion and promised myself that I would have a pet when I graduated.

I kept that promise. In April 1978, I got two Beagle puppies, Union and Pacific, named after my infatuation with the Union Pacific Railroad. That was the same time that I got the first job that I truly enjoyed, working for Grocer’s Supply International in Houston. My job was to represent the company at national and international food and export conventions. I was going to be doing a lot of traveling, for days and weeks at a time. I gave Union and Pacific to a friend, who promised I would get them back when I “settled down.”

I never settled down.

I thought I had settled down in April 1983 when I moved from Houston back to College Station, hoping to get a job with Texas A&M University. When I finally got that job in June 1984, I was taking weekends off and traveling here and there to concerts. Saw everyone except The Beatles and The Who.

It wasn’t until October 1987, after I had seen all the major groups that I wanted to see (and that were still groups—that’s why I never saw The Beatles and The Who), I got two dogs. One was a rescue dog from the neighbors of friends in Houston. It was a female dachshund named “Puppy Doggy.” Those people in Houston were immigrants from China. They had a momma dachshund and her puppies tied up behind the washer and dryer in the garage. They were planning on eating them for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Eventually the SPCA got involved and took the dogs from them; I got one of them.

Puppy Doggy was only with me for a few short months. Since she was supposed to be a meal, apparently one can fatten up dogs by neutering them way too early, feeding them a lot, and not letting them exercise. Unfortunately, one of the problems with neutering a dog too early is that they can become incontinent. Puppy Doggy became incontinent at about six months of age. It was too much for me to handle, so I donated her to the Texas A&M University Veterinary School so that they could give her the love and care she needed while doing critical but compassionate research on incontinence. I visited Puppy Doggy every month for several years until she died. She was only four years old, but her horrible start in life didn’t bode well for a long life.

Immediately after letting Puppy Doggy go to the vet school, I got two dogs, a long-haired dachshund, Penney, and a chow chow/basenji mix, Sugar.

Penney and Sugar

I had both dogs until April 15, 1993, when I abandoned my life in Texas, intent on going to sleep permanently in Canada by the end of April (see A suicide journey ends in failure). I confided in only one person, Eric. He had been a close friend, roommate, and employee until, searching for his own life, he joined the United States Army. He was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, just 90 miles away. He came and got Penney and Sugar, promising to find them good homes since he couldn’t have pets on the army base. I found out several years later that his girlfriend took both dogs. He did marry that girlfriend and they had both dogs for many years.

Because my own life was in turmoil, I did not get another pet. I didn’t even consider such until 2003 or so when my life settled down. A big part of that settling was due to my husband, Jim. We have been together since May 26, 1994, but from 1994 to 2003 I was either traveling for work or starting my own companies. Both took too much time from me. Then a stray black cat visited our house on Thanksgiving day in 2006 (see Cats—How it started).

Tomorrow I’ll explain why I feel so guilty about how and why Zoey the Cool Cat died.

Rest in peace, Zoey the Cool Cat. I loved you dearly, and you’ll always be a part of my heart and life. I’m so sorry that I didn’t take better care of you.

8 thoughts on “Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part one)

  1. Pingback: Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part two) | Russel Ray Photos

  2. Pingback: Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part three) | Russel Ray Photos

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