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Jack of All Trades

Most of us have fond memories of a favorite pet and the adventures we had with him or her. Mine center on a black and white tomcat named Jack. Jack and I met when we were both youngsters and forged a bond as we grew up together, but one of us got smart and old faster than the other.

He was an outdoor cat, so came and went at will. His basic schedule was to hang with me during the day, but once I was safely in bed, he’d head outside for more “adult” activities. Because we knew each other so well, he put up with indignities that truly grieved him and that most of his kind would not endure. Maybe it was the pricey Puss ‘n Boots canned food we fed him twice a day.

I remember having photos of Jack wearing a baby bonnet and nightgown while I pushed him in my baby buggy, and another time he was wearing an especially fetching outfit, complete with a matching hat. I'm sure to say he looked aggravated would have been an understatement. Maybe mortified would be a more apt description. Unfortunately, those pictures seem to have gone missing.

But there were some indignities even he wouldn’t endure. He absolutely refused to walk on a leash, even though I tried repeatedly. I think he would have been embarrassed in front of his pals. He got involved in a couple of scrapes, too.

One day he was busy playing with the electrical cords behind the couch and got too feisty with his claws. Suddenly he let out a yowl that belonged in a horror film. The electrical jolt that went through his body caused him to wet a puddle beneath him, making matters worse. Mom and I screamed, and my teenage brother, the only cool head in the house at the time, jumped out of bed and jerked the plug from the outlet. Crisis averted. Poor Jack ran, hid under the bed and didn’t come out for 2 days.

Another misadventure wasn’t so painful. As I carefully cut out paper dolls, Jack supervised across from me. On an impulse, I reached over and snipped off one side of his whiskers. Maybe the devil made me do it. Of course, immediately afterward I was guilt-ridden and quite worried about Jack’s future.

Me: “Mommy, what do you think would happen if someone cut off a cat’s whiskers?”

Mom: “Why do you ask, Honey? Did YOU cut off Jack’s whiskers?”

Me: “Only on one side.”

Mother laughed, said he’d be fine, and Jack’s missing whiskers grew back lickety-split, much to my relief.

We Old School types enjoyed our pets, and they forgave us for the “loving care” we provided.


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