Reigning Cats and Dog

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JAZMYN | One little dog in a big cat world 

I grew up a “dog person” but was converted when Lee Ann and I got married. It was in the spirit of ecumenical harmony that I held my protestations that cold night back in 1990 when, on the way home from visiting her mom and dad in Fuquay-Varina, she stopped the car to pick up two stray cats along a solitary stretch of NC 42.

The cats obviously weren’t from the same litter; nevertheless, they were either dumped out there together or found each other. They were scared and hungry. I was perplexed, having never had a cat and, until then, rarely touched one.

We placed the cats in large wicker basket lined with an old blanket on our back deck. I told Lee Ann if they were still there in the morning, I’d be open to the possibility of keeping them.

I surprised her, and myself, by tearing a path from the bedroom to the back porch early the next morning to see if they were still there. They were. They lay curled up against each other, sleeping, but were willing to be interrupted for food and human companionship. We named them Ben and Jerry after the ice cream we discovered during our honeymoon trip to Vermont.

It didn’t take me long to become a “cat” person. I even talked to my dad into adopting a cat, and then convinced him that having two was a better deal because they could keep each other company. He and his two cats doted on one another until dad’s death from cancer two and a half years ago.

Ben and Jerry were “inside” cats, and when our second child, Addison, showed signs of allgergies to them (most of Lee Ann’s immediately family are allergic to cats and dogs, but not Lee Ann) we found a good home for them and tearfully gave them away. Another cat adopted us a year or so later. We named him “Stormy” after the Hurricanes’ mascot, and today we have three additional cats: Snow Cream, Sparkle and Sparkle’s kitten, Pumpkin. They’re outside cats, but Stormy is particularly persuasive in finding his way in the house and onto one of our laps, or into Karis’ bed, much to the delight of Karis.

And now, one dog.

Daughter Karis, who’s 10,  has been pining for a dog for years. We’ve waited for the opportune moment and after a false start with an adopted grown dog a few years ago, last week we welcomed Jazmyn into the family.

Stormy, the “Old Deuteronomy” of our collection of cats (for those of you familiar with T. S. Eliot), is skeptical of Jazzy. Snow Cream and Sparkle haven’t ventured too close, but Pumpkin is very curious…so far, so good. Pumpkin will charge at Jazzy, but Jazzy stands her ground, curious about this orange blaze of fur. Jazzy is happy and content, Karis is thrilled…and best of all, Addison – now 13 – shows no signs of allergies. In fact, he’s in danger of becoming a “dog person” as well.

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