I was never pet-friendly

She refused to attend the graveside burial for her pet

My siblings and I didn’t grow up with pets in my home.  They were deemed unsanitary and a waste of time and money. Sure, we had animals. There were dogs for hunting and cats for keeping the mouse population under control. They all had jobs to do but those jobs were strictly performed outside.

Fast forward to me as a mom

Our children weren’t raised to be pet lovers either, I didn’t teach them to dislike animals (accept snakes, I draw the line with snakes). It was never a situation where animals were harmed in our presence. We simply had no place for them in our home or in our lives. 


Something changed when my oldest daughter asked for a pet.  She was told specifically that it could not be a cat or a dog. Big Mistake. She chose two giant rats and named them Bennie and Lennie. They had the most hideous, long tails. She kept them in her room.

animal cute little mouse
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I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that we did not do our rat research beforehand. It turns out, rats don’t live that long. They are prone to illness. I will rerefer to it as rat cooties. 

One Dead Rat

The first casualty was Bennie.  My little girl had a broken heart due to Bennie’s untimely death. 

Truth be told, I was not heartbroken at all.  I did not want pet rats in my house anyway, but I pretended to like them for her sake. I cringed every time her room door opened. 

The Funeral

What I didn’t realize was Mom, that’s me, was in charge of the funeral arrangements. 

Thank goodness there was a Nike shoe box, mail packing peanut foam and glitter involved in the celebration of rat life ceremony. We said a prayer, sang a song (It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday) then grabbed a shovel. But wait! My child didn’t want Bennie buried in our backyard. She also refused to attend the graveside burial portion but requested that he be buried somewhere nice. 

Her father and I drove around our neighborhood to search for a place to perform a rat burial. Imagine parking off the highway with a shovel and a box in rural Sahuarita, Arizona. Nothing suspicious looking about that at all. Right?

We quickly buried Bennie and returned home.  

This was it, the final resting place for our beloved pet.

a nike shoe boxes on the floor

There’s more.

Is that the end of the story? Nope. Six months later, Lennie also went to that great cheese factory in the sky. (Repeat funeral arrangements above). The only difference for this funeral was neither Dad nor daughter wanted to help with the burial. I took Lennie to the dumpster at the community clubhouse, tossed the box inside and made my way to the nearest Starbucks.

This was a delicate situation so I had to time my trip to Starbuck according to how long it might take me to bury a dead rat. I buried him next to Bennie is the story I’m sticking to. LOL

Skip forward to 2019

This same pet-friendly child decided to ask for a cat.  At that time, her father and I were divorcing. I thought it might be good to get her a support animal friend since we were changing her family dynamics. She and I paid a visit to our local animal shelter where this child of mine picks a long haired American black cat. You know the type that is considered a jinx if you cross its path. I didn’t argue.

We took her home and named her Kimberly.   Three months later, dad moves to California and the girls want to visit him. He agrees as long as the creepy black cat wasn’t invited. I am now the cat sitter for a week.  

Something changed in my heart that night

They left me to pet sit a cat I didn’t really want. That night, I was on the phone with my now ex and there was an exchange of words that had me in tears before hanging up. I lay in my bed with a very sad disposition. Just then, I felt a pounce. My first thought was “Surely this cat has a date with my foot for getting on my bed’.

Remember earlier I said I don’t hurt animals? I don’t.  I decided to simply watch and see what she was doing. She walked towards my head and laid her head on my shoulder. It was the most comforting feeling ever. It was like she knew I needed a hug.

Me, The cat lover

Somehow, I fell hard for this cat. She got Christmas gifts, treats, toys and kitty insurance. I was now a full-blown cat lover. I kept treats in my nightstand for her even though my daughter had her on a diet per the vet’s advice. Kimberly knew where the treats were, and I was caught red-handed with hidden treats as Kimberly stood at the nightstand waiting for secret treats as my daughter looked on. 

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The cat is leaving.

A few months later, my daughter was headed off to college and Kimberly the Cat moved with her to the University of Arizona Campus. I was sad to see them go. It took a few months, but I decided to adopt another cat to keep me company.  I paid another visit to the animal shelter. What type of cat did I choose? A black, American long-haired cat named Splat.

Splat, the cat

Splat was overweight, timid and was left at the shelter while other cats were being adopted. I decided he and I were a match since we both had been left behind. The adoption was in January 2020.  Every day for 10 months, this cat ran from me, hid from me and would tiptoe past my office. I could see him trying to be quiet in my camera during Zoom calls.

What is wrong with this cat?

He didn’t trust me, and he didn’t like me. He never allowed me to pet him. He stayed under the bed in my guest bedroom all day. He was very different from Kimberly the Kitty Cat who was friendly and fun to play with. Friends would stop by and ask if I was sure I had a cat since they never saw it.  I was only sure I had one because the food was empty, and the litter box was full.

Wanting to take him back to the animal shelter a few times and tell them we didn’t like each other. I couldn’t do it because we were family now and you don’t get rid of family when things are tough. He needed me to be patient and be his friend.

Spring forward to October 2020

Can you believe I was scheduled for back surgery the day before Halloween. 

After surgery I wasn’t able to go upstairs to my bedroom for a while.  It was too painful. I had a hospital bed delivered downstairs and moved his food downstairs to make it easy for me to feed him while I recovered.

A miracle happened

Lying in bed with a lot of discomfort. Suddenly, there was a cat at my feet. I was shocked. I put my hand out and he walked up to me and put his head under my hand. He was giving me permission to pet him. 

Changing my pet’s name

His name was Splat when I adopted him. I am sure that was some form of insult to him because he was fat. When he was in a laying down position he looked as if his fat was splattered onto the floor.  I decided he would no longer live with an insulting name.  I changed his name to Dude.

He is still slightly timid but that is his personality. He sits on his stoop beside me and snores everyday while I work.  He loves his treats and his sleep. He won’t attack a lizard on my behalf but that’s ok.  His job is to comfort and be near me. He does that very well. 

I am grateful every day for Dude the cat and my new love for animals.