My first real pet - Smokey
A lot of memories from my childhood have turned into fuzzy shadows and blurred images. Yet, I vividly remember my first real pet, Smokey. Smokey was an American short hair. His grey fur was interrupted by white puddles on his belly and the tips of his paws. He was a sturdy cat, not fat, just solid muscle. And if you had to think of him in human terms, Al Pacino or Robert de Niro would be a good fit.
My Dad will tell you that he doesn’t like cats, but it doesn’t take much to get him to reminisce about Smokey. That was a cat he could relate to. He used to take walks with my Dad down the dirt and gravel roads in our old neighborhood. Smokey was not skittish. He didn’t run from danger; he faced it headlong. My Dad once saw him sit calmly while a dog came charging at him. My Dad was all upset; this was the only cat he ever liked (or at least that he will admit to liking). But Smokey was a wise guy; he played it cool and let the dog come to him. And when the dog got in range, Smokey swung his paw and a second later that dog ran off - bleeding nose and all.
Like all tough guys, Smokey had a fun side. When Smokey got older, we adopted a kitten named Tigger. He was an energetic tiger-striped fuzz ball. He would hide behind the fridge where the food dishes were and when Smokey came over to eat, he’d pounce on him. Smokey would give him a good bap with his paw, but he never really hurt the little guy. He’d just remind him who’s boss.
Another time, we were out and left Smokey in the house. He had no way out and we didn’t have a litter box. Smokey knew he couldn’t pee in the house. We found this little genius in the bathroom, peeing in the sink! Better there then the floor. At least it was easier to clean.
There are so many memories to relate about this lovable cat. The time he was accidently locked in the restaurant freezer, how we used to play hide and seek with him, or how he survived the Blizzard of ’78. And yet, I also remember and cherish the simple things... rubbing his belly and scratching behind his ears to hear the rumbling purr of approval.
When our family moved across country, Smokey came with us. He didn’t adjust well to our temporary living conditions when we first arrived. We had to stay with family and they wouldn’t let Smokey in the house. Even worse, we didn’t want to loose him, so we had to keep him on a lease in the yard. He must have felt so lonely and rejected out there. No wonder he got off his lease and ran away. We spent months looking for him, driving around and calling for him. We spotted him a couple of times, but he just wouldn’t come. Our Smokey, that brawny cat with the silky grey coat, just couldn’t live like that.
While this story doesn’t have a happy ending, it does hold a lot of happy memories. Those are the things I hold on to. A little girl and her cat.
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