Connections: Going to Cats and Dogs

Thus began my granddaughter’s first tearful campaign for a pet of her own

   Even though the “Mast-Head” this week is about the editor’s household and backyard pets (see below), I can’t help but get in a few words about how I wound up with a 23-pound cat named White Boots.
    About seven years ago, my oldest granddaughter, the pig-wanting girl in the “Mast-Head,” happened to be taken to the Animal Rescue Fund’s kennels for a special afternoon adventure on the occasion of her fourth birthday. That she might fall in love there with a kitten had not really been considered by her mother, who happens to be allergic to cats.
    Thus began my granddaughter’s first tearful campaign for a pet of her own. She begged her aunt to adopt the kitten for her, but that wasn’t practical: Her aunt was working in New York City and wasn’t often in her small apartment. She pleaded with her maternal grandmother, who lived in a Manhattan apartment and, well, didn’t know from cats. Then she got to me.
    I like to say I am more of a dog person than a cat person, but our family had had plenty of cats over the years, and I was between pets at the time. So, aware of what was in store, I went back to ARF with her to take a look. Although there was some question about whether he was the same kitten my granddaughter had fixed on originally, we chose a gray tabby with a luxurious white bib and tidy white boots. She gave the kitten the kind of name a 4-year-old might choose, White Boots, and she promised to visit all the time to take care of him. How could I say no? It not only meant a pet, but visits from a grandchild.
    As might have been expected, her cat-tending visits and interest waned. Besides, her parents had more to do than to make sure she kept her cat appointments. As time went by, she was treated to a dog of her own, the shaggy Cavachon mentioned in this week’s “Mast-Head.” And it was she, who will be 11 on her next birthday, who recently decided she wanted a pig.
    I had forgotten how old White Boots was until he started showing signs of indigestion and was taken to the vet this week. His age had been duly noted when he was neutered and information about him was still on file. That’s also how I learned what the formidable White Boots, the largest cat I’ve ever known, weighs. (I’ll resist the urge to insert a pig joke here.) A simple, over-the-counter remedy and a change of diet were prescribed. I have every reason to expect him to thrive. With all this talk of pets, though, I can’t stop thinking that it is time to get another dog.
    After my last dog, Goodie — named for colonial East Hampton’s reputed witch, Goodie Garlick — died, I decided that I couldn’t get another dog unless we put in an invisible fence, and I had qualms about those. Now, I’m beginning to think I might find a dog who wouldn’t mind spending some time by him or herself in a portion of the backyard that has a conventional fence. We do already have such a fence, but I’ve been afraid that a dog would howl in despair at being left there or would be able to dig out.
    As I imagine it now, I ought to have a dog that is neither too small nor too big. Although if someone offered me a Newfoundland, like the lovable Meg — the first canine of my adult life — I would have a hard time saying no. If anyone wants to take this as a hint, they’re welcome.