Les Animaux 

I grew up in a cat family. No, silly, not a family of cats (that might explain a few things about me though), but a family who always had cats around.

 

First there was Michelle. I don't remember much about her other than the fact that she was a mean tabby, but to be fair, I was also a young child who lacked the ability to fully understand and apply concepts such as "personal space" and "emotional regulation" to my daily life. Maybe the meanness was warranted and possibly imagined, to some degree. Michelle was buried in our backyard beneath one of the trees when her time came.

 

Deeper's existence overlapped with Michelle's. He was our family cat for the first 18 years of my life, and was a sly, dignified gray tuxedo kitty who came to us from the frat house across the street. He had street smarts and book smarts (yes, the best of both worlds) and I imagine that if he had been a person, he would've always shown up in a suit and bowtie with coiffed hair and a dashing handlebar mustache. He was proper and came from another era, that was for sure.  In the stories my dad made up about him on drives to school and nights out at dinner, Deeper was presented as a suave, wealthy cat who took frequent trips to Hawaii, where he hung out at Luau's eating the pig and dancing with the Hula dancers, and drove a red convertible Mercedes around the island. It was a horrible day when we had to put him down, but he was shriveling up and his kidneys were failing and it was his time. 

 

My dad inherited two cats from his mom after he moved her into a longterm care facility. I don't remember the names of the cats, but I remember they had Persian names (my dad, his sister, and his mom lived in Iran for awhile) and were Siamese and were also mean, like Michelle (again, I probably deserved whatever the cats did to me). One of the cats met an awful fate, which I won't even talk about on here, and I don't know what happened to the other; I was just too young. 

 

My family used to take semi-frequent trips to the Amish country in Pennsylvania and one time we stayed at a farm that had lots of kittens when I was probably 5 or 6 years old and some stuff went down. I really wanted one of the kittens, so I put it in my pink suitcase that had unicorns on it and zipped it up and didn't say a word to anyone about what I had done. I thought I was being discreet, I thought I could get away with it, but apparently not. My mom knew though and took the terrified creature out of the suitcase and told me we couldn't take it home. I cried. I didn't understand. Don't worry, nothing bad happened to the kitten. It stayed on the farm and probably grew up to have it's own little family and never thought about me again. But I think about that kitten all the time.

Following the almighty Deeps and the Siamese cats, Skittles, a gorgeous calico with the inability to meow, came along. Deeper and Skittles were very different cats, and Skittles didn't quite have the poise and wisdom that we had become accustomed to with Deeper, which was an adjustment, to say the least. I guess it didn't work out from her perspective either and I don't entirely blame her. Skittles called it quits one day with our family and took off and didn't even leave a note.

 

Roxy replaced Skittles and immediately went out and took up with some of the neighborhood male cats the same day we brought her home, ignoring our family's religious values, and soon bestowed 3 other little bundles of joy on our family: Buhloo, Gary, and Gizmo.

 

Buhloo was a magnificent cat. Black with piercing eyes, he loved to take up residence on my dad's computer whenever my dad needed to work and made sure that my dad understood where he landed in the pecking order. If you ever need to be humbled and know your place in this world, just hang out with a cat. Gary, formerly known as Muzette, was a white kitty with blue eyes. She was renamed from Muzette to Gary after my family watched too many episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants and fell in love with the snail that meowed named Gary. She kept to herself and didn't care for any of us until she became older and resigned herself to the fact that we had to exist in the same space. I guess I get it, I've had to practice acceptance in many areas of my life as well. She was and still is the only cat I've ever gotten hives and itchy skin from. Gizmo, the third kitty, was white and gray, playful, energetic, and without a mean bone in his little body. Gizmo disappeared one day and we aren't sure what happened to him. I bet he ran off with Skittles.

We tried having a few hamsters, but honestly, with all the cats, the hamsters pretty much all met untimely, grotesque, Marie-Antoinette style endings. I also had a Beta fish that lived for a very long time in my bathroom. And one time I brought home the class pet from school, but snakes didn't really fly with my mom, so that was the end of having any type of creature with scales under my care until I lived on my own, and then there was Donny, the Chinese Water Dragon, but he ate some bad crickets and passed away perched on his branch one day.

Fast forward to the present. My husband and I have 7 animals and I want to tell you all about them. We both love animals so much and if we had more room, we'd probably have even more. We volunteered weekly at an animal shelter pre-pandemic days, and miss it. All of our animals have their own special stories. Please enjoy them.

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This is Bruno Taters, aka B, Bru, Bruce, Bru-tato, Tater Tots... Bruno is 14 years old. We have no idea what type of dog he actually is, but our guess is a Yorkie/Pomeranian/Papillion/Chihuahua mix of some sort. He was my sister's dog and her ex-boyfriend purchased him from some Craigslist people who met him at a Taco Bell in Arizona. Or maybe it was a Starbucks. I can never remember, but one of those chain places. He lived in Arizona for the first 5 years of his life, with a short stint in LA one summer, probably trying to make it as an actor for a McDonald's commercial.

 

It's a miracle he is alive. He almost died when he was a puppy from hypoglycemia, and then a mountain lion stalked him in our backyard (I am not joking or exaggerating this at all), and then there were the hawks... Bruno used to run wild on the golf course and would get loose and run up and down the road and the only way you could catch him was if you got in the car, drove up next to him, opened the door and asked him if he wanted to go on a car ride. He loved car rides and would jump right in. He was also attacked by two dogs who tried to rip his leg off and almost succeeded (I'll spare the details).

Bruno moved up to Seattle with me in 2012. He enjoys dog food with a dash of wet cat food mixed in and occasionally a small dollop of whipped cream. He currently has one tooth, hates children, hates the ocean, hates trains, sleeps 12 hours a day, sunbathes whenever he gets the chance, and loves his nightly helping of turkey before bedtime, which is literally the only thing he cares about between the hours of 7:15 PM (after dinner) and 10:30 PM (bedtime). He knows that turkey slice is coming.

Bruno is my best friend and my fiercest protector. Watch out, he is 9 lbs of demonic possession when someone knocks on the front door or the UPS truck drives by or if anyone gets near me. I love him more than anything.

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This is Korra aka The Bitis. She is a 9 year old DSH with taupe and cream-colored fur. I have a lot of cute pictures of her face and her expressive green eyes, but I'm sharing this one as both an educational and cautionary tool. Her belly is inviting, soft, perfect, and honestly, she is aging like a fine cheese. But, my point: do not touch her belly. Just don't do it. No matter how adorable it looks, no matters how much it drives up your cuteness aggression, this is how you get on her "list", and that list.... is the last place you want to be. This photo is a photo of the danger zone: the belly. Look, but do not touch.

Micah's friends found Korra in Dallas, Texas at a Starbucks when she was 5 weeks old. She was definitely a runt because of her size, and Micah took her in and loved her and named her after his favorite character in Avatar: The Legend of Korra. She has been giving him the stink eye ever since. 

Korra enjoys sleeping on the heating pads we have throughout the apartment, eating her food as well as everyone else's, sleeping between me and Micah at night, making lots of kitty biscuits, lounging, and carrying her catnip mouse around while wailing about who-knows-what during the late hours of the evening well into the darkness of the night. 

This is Dakota-Pi Phoebe Diamond aka Coco-Bear, Dakoo, Coozie... She is a 7 year old Australian Cattle Dog/Shepherd Mix. We rescued her from Homeward Pet Adoption Center in Woodinville, WA when she was 3 years old. She came to the shelter as a stray from Yakima, WA and apparently lived for a short-time with a family there. They couldn't take care of her, so they brought her to the shelter, and then our shelter transferred her over.

One of my volunteer activities at the shelter was to photograph the new dogs and cats for media purposes. Dakota was on my list the day after she got in. She came up to me, turned around, flung herself on my lap, and slowly melted off of me and just stared up at my face with those adorable brown eyes. I called Micah and told him there was a dog at the shelter we just had to adopt. He went in that evening, and immediately fell in love. We put her on hold that night and took her home the next day.

They say that the dogs choose you. Four years later and I would say that Dakota would've honestly chosen anyone that looked her way that day, that's how much she loves people, and we just happened to get lucky because we were in the right place, at the right time.

Dakota loves playing outside, hunting for small woodland creatures, eating cheese and turkey, going for hikes, visiting our neighbor's goats, cuddling, flinging seashells into the air at the beach, and just being the best friend everyone needs. She hates balloons, the vacuum cleaner, baths, and snowmen. We love her so much, but I can almost guarantee that she probably loves us back 100 times more.

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This is Mowgli, or Sir. Mow-guy-a-son of Lynnwood, WA,  or Mowgee Powgli... He is a 3 year old DSH tabby.

Micah and I were at the shelter one night when a volunteer came in from walking the dogs and said they found a kitten wandering around a nearby industrial parking lot. Micah, Robin (another volunteer), and I went out to try and catch the kitten. We had no luck, went back to finish our shifts, and then returned to the area to continue the search and trap effort. After 45 minutes, we discovered Mowgli likes to climb trees. He went up a tree, Micah went right up after him, shoved him gently in his sweater, climbed down, and put him in the cage we had. 

It was 10:00 at night at that point. Everything was closed, and our shelter doesn't take strays. We decided to take him home with us and figure out what to do with him in the morning.

Mowgli climbed up on my chest that night, and his 5-month old body curled up on me and purred the entire night. The next day, we discovered that Korra, the hater of all things, had taken a liking to Mowgli and grew fond of him quickly. We had to adopt him into our family and the rest is history.

Mowgli is kind, affectionate, super sweet and cuddly, but is a hunter first and foremost. He loves to hunt spiders in our apartment and likes to bat them around to see if they keep moving. Unlike Korra, we believe he is truly just following his predatory instincts and that there is no evil intention behind the murdering, excuse me, purrdering, and preliminary torture. 

He also drools on us, but that's ok. It's not a lot.

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This is Scooter, aka Scooty-Booty. She is a Guinea pig and our neighbor's daughter named her right after we found her. Micah found her running around the parking lot and spent almost an hour combing through ivy to find her. He pulled her out and treated her mange and nursed her back to health. 

We believe she was just dumped in the parking lot and has some trauma from that. We put up signs and reached out to the apartment complex manager to see if anyone had reported a lost guinea pig, but had no luck, so we invited her to live with us.

Scooter is always stressed out and seems to be very anti-social, despite the fact that her species are very social (Guinea pigs are herd animals and it is illegal in Switzerland to not own more than one. They need each other for their happiness and are considered victims of abuse if they do not have a buddy or two). We rescued the next two piggies from Tacoma Humane Society so she would have friends, but she rejected them. 

Scooter remains anti-social and lives on the second floor of the very spacious, custom-built guinea pig enclosure Micah built for the pigs to keep them safe from the cats.

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This is Squid. Squid was originally named Sid after Sid Vicious, but Squid stuck better for some reason so that's what we call her Squid, but her legal name is Sid. We rescued Squid and her BFF, Ziggy (below) from Tacoma Humane Society, and the two have been inseparable ever since. Squid is the alpha of the duo and has a tiny mohawk. She prefers lettuce and carrots over any other vegetable and also takes pleasure in chewing on the cage. Squid and Ziggy live on the first floor of the 28 square foot Guinea pig enclosure that was custom-built for them.

Sid is an ovarian cancer survivor.

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This is Ziggy. Ziggy is named after Ziggy Stardust. She is the sweetest little Guinea pig ever and sings the song of her people the loudest of any of the piggies when gets hungry.  

Ziggy likes to. eat lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and goes wild over bell peppers and parsley. I mean, she loves everything and I think, by far, is the friendly of the pigs. 

If Ziggy could be anything, she would be a firefighter. She likes to help people and does a great smoke alarm impression.