On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
On the Road will continue, but it will be forever Alain’s.
No, it’s not On The Road, we just cheated and used the form. This is such a lovely set of stories and photos from J R in WV that I can’t wait to read them a second time. It’s looking like there will be two more installments after this, and I couldn’t be happier.
If you think you might like to have your furry family featured here, please send an email to watergirl at balloon-juice.com. If you check out the banner picture for Furry Friends, you’ll see that we’re not limiting this series to cat and dogs!
Life with J R and Family: Boomer, Step Aside Clyde, Happy Dawg, Harvey, Ralph, and Rufus
by J R in WV
Some time ago Watergirl asked if I would be interested in writing about and posting pictures of some of the many pets we have had over the years. So, after searching through files of photos and editing some up for public display, here we go. There are so many worthies I’m going to do a first set with some of our beloved pets who have passed, and this is that set. This is my second time through, I lost my first submission to a network error, and so now I’m writing the whole thing in LibreOffice, and will paste in into the submission form when I’m done.
It was a surprising amount of work, and I hate that I lost it all. After 45 years of using computers in my various careers, (in the beginning it was holes in paper tape, each hole was a bit) you would think I had learned my lesson long ago…
We have been rescuing critters, mostly cats and dogs, all our married life, so there have been many dozens, and I’m only going to hit a few I have good photos for. Five, to be specific.
Boomer, Up Close
This photo was taken by a next door neighbor and great friend, it’s about as close to Boomer as you could get, too. Boomer was dropped off at their house as a puppy, with a sister (who never looked anything like Boomer) and after his tail was docked. They asked if we would be interested in adopting him, and we were. But Wife and I both worked long hours at the time, so we asked them to keep him long enough for him to learn about going outside for his business. We all live in the rural wooded hillsides of W Va, and so our dogs (and cats) are free to come and go. So they did, and we did. (His sister was also adopted by a friend a little further away.)
By the time we brought Boomer home, a journey of maybe 400 yards, he was a big, friendly mutt. Everyone who knew Boomer liked Boomer. And he loved most everyone he ever met, with a few notable exceptions. He always wanted to please his folks, which included us and the neighbors who were also free to come and go on our farm.
We were next door (other side of the farm) with a crowd of friends and dogs, when some of the dogs chased the family cat up the hill, Not Boomer, tho!!! Boomer jumped into Wife’s lap to let her know Boomer wasn’t chasing any cats, no way!! He weighed around 90 pounds, but there was no way to tell him he was not a lap dog.
That whole chase thing was recreational both for the dogs and the cat, who knew she could climb a tree, but didn’t care to. And the dogs all knew that actually catching a cat was way more serious than chasing one, with a potential for a bloody nose! That’s a big deal to a dog!
Boomer and our friend
Here you can see that Boomer was a big chunky dog, and that he liked our friend T, who liked Boomer too. Boomer was more athletic than he looked, and his bark was, well booming. Hence the name. And more than one set of sneak thieves were happy to get away from Boomer, just from the noise! This photo is from 2007, I’m not sure when the Boomer closeup nose photo was taken…
Clyde, short for Step Aside Clyde
Clyde came walking down the hill outside our house one December – He was a ball of black fluff with big white snowflakes falling into the leaves on the ground. Probably 8 or 10 weeks old. Looked happy, not scared. I went upstairs and got a little bowl of kibble, and went outside to greet him. He wagged hard and ate some and wagged more. I picked him up, he wagged more, and we went inside.
He was a perfect dog. Well behaved, calm under all circumstances, a leader of dogs and people, an Alpha Dog, affectionate and caring. He attached himself to me, and stuck by my side if I was there. Hence Step Aside, Clyde, he was sometimes a little too close for comfort going through a tight spot or crossing a narrow foot bridge. That first spring when we got him shaved, at first he was embarrassed to lose his fur coat, but it was so hot for him! But then he got used to it.
We had several dogs at the time, Boomer for one example, and they barked and pushed each other around with great joy, as dogs who are friends will.
As you can see from Clyde’s photo, he loved winter, and snow, the more the better. He would stay outside on the back porch, and rub his face in the snow, and roll in it, and let it stack up on him. It wouldn’t melt on his back, his fur was that thick. He would spend the night outside, and in the morning there would be a mound on the back porch, with a tiny hole where he breathed, and you could see two shiny black eyes peering out of the snow pile. Then he would push his way out, and come in for company in the morning.
When he was 5 or 6 or so, he lost the use of his back legs, and our local Vet couldn’t see anything on traditional X-rays. So they recommended we take him to a Vet Hospital in Columbus, OH, which had more resources.
Wife was off with him in the other front seat wit his charts…
They had an interesting agreement with a Children’s Hospital, there were two paths of patients going into the MRI, one for kids and one for furry kids, that crossed at the MRI and then separated again. That showed that Clyde had adhesions to his spinal cord, probably from a falling injury.
Early the next morning a gifted young neurosurgeon operated on Clyde’s spine, to remove the adhesions, and soon they called Wife to come and get him, as he was a “difficult” patient in their kennel. And when Wife showed up, he really started to howl. She brought him home with equipment to help him rehab. A big wide strap to pass under his rear so I could hold him up while his front legs worked and his hind legs did not. And after just a few weeks, those hind legs started moving again.
It took a while, but before too long Clyde was as mobile as your average dog, back running the ridges behind our house. Of course it was too good to last forever. One day Clyde didn’t come home from the ridge. And there are literally miles of rock cliffs and huge twisty trees from the winds on the ridge tops out there. Some months later one of the other dogs brought home a small skull – it was Clyde’s, I recognized the chip on his fang. I was glad to have it, actually. An odd keepsake from an odd dog who I loved very much.
It is hard to type when you have trouble seeing…
We were gifted with Happy Dawg by one of the Vets at the clinic we have been taking pets to since the 1970s. Happy was “stolen” aka rescued from a backyard chain at 3 am where she was abused for barking, by another client of the clinic. She had wounds on her back from being beaten and a ferocious case of Heartworms, and spent 9 months under the Doctor’s care before we asked about available adoptions. She barked a lot in the kennel, as well on walks every day around the block, but no one cared any more.
We brought her home, no fees just take care of her and love her. She was so happy to learn to climb the rocks and hunt chipmunks from the other dogs. You can see from her photo that she was really happy. Even when we took back to the Vet Hospital, she was happy to see the Vets and techs who cared for her. Once a neighbor dog (somewhat nuts, eventually was put down for erratic and violent behavior) wounded her, and I took her to the ER Vet clinic. She was happy there too, the smells meant they were going to take care of her.
The photo was taken September, 2018. Not long after that, she became listless and I took her back to the ER clinic, where they diagnosed her with a small abdominal tumor, which was bleeding out. I was lucky to be able to spend an hour or more with her lying on my lap… They weren’t busy, and were quite compassionate. We will always miss her, too. She was so happy, Happy Dawg was.
Harvey’s photo is from 2010. Harvey was an alley cat from the West Side of Charleston, and a co-worker had been feeding him. Maybe the smallest cat we ever have had, he became as affectionate as any cat I’ve ever known. Gretchen told me her landlady was going to call animal control on him, because he was playing with landlady’s cat, and she thought it was too violent, all that hissing and chasing. So I visited her small apartment behind the landlady’s house, and she fed him a little bit, and then dropped him into a cardboard box. You should have heard that howl of betrayal~!!!
When I brought the little orange cat home and opened the box in the entry way, he looked around and dove down the steps into the basement. We didn’t see him for weeks, but the food was going away, and the litter box was being used, so we knew he was still down there. Then one day I saw just the tiny bit of his head, and two eyes, scanning for danger! Before long he was eating with the rest of the family.
Orange cats, and white cats with red or orange spots, are typically very friendly. Harvey was like that. The name is from the magical giant rabbit ( a pooka?) in the Jimmy Stewart film, named Harvey. No one else could see him but Jimmy, and no one but me could see Harvey the cat at first.
He had a great life in and around our house. Bugs and lizards to chase and catch, other cats to swear at loudly, spitting and hissing and then cuddling up together. Late at night after he got old he would sneak into bed and lie against my head to stay warm – not the only cat to do that, either.
Rufus, master of all he surveyed.
There is some history here. Back in the mid 1970s we lived in a small bungalow in Beckley, and we had a repairman come to work on the washing machine, not for the first time. So we left the door unlocked for him to do his work. When we got home, we had a new cat, a really big white and orange spotted cat, who looked at you and said “Ralph”! The repairman said “Well, he acted like he lived there!” and so he didn’t even try to keep him out.
So we named him Ralph, and he stayed through a move to Charleston, and then out to the farm, where he ruled the roost. Ralph was amazing, fought with a fox to protect the chickens, ate a whole rabbit, only left some fur and the tail. If you don’t think THAT upset his digestion, think again! After Ralph died at the foot of the steps in the old Jenny Lind farmhouse, some months later I stopped for gas on my way to work, and a big young tomcat, white with orange spots, walked out and rubbed against my ankles. I was dumfounded!!
I asked inside the filling station / hardware shop if he belonged to anyone in the neighborhood, and they said, no, he just showed up the other day. So I took off for work, and stopped and went back for the young tom you see here. The reincarnation of Ralph, we named him Rufus for the red spots…
Rufus was very like Ralph in mood and behavior, not quite as big, but just as self assured, he was affectionate and loving. Would walk around the farm with us, and the dogs. Was a great cat in all regards. At one point he began sitting in a chair at the dinner table, very politely. And we would give him a tiny slice of whatever meaty thing we were having. In the end, when we had neighbors over for dinner, we would set a place for Rufus, a little saucer at his chair. And the people eating on either side of him would share tiny bits of the entree with him, and he would purr like low thunder on the horizon and politely nibble at his share.
Many years later, when he was nearly 20, he would sleep against my head. Once he was gone Harvey took his place, trying to stay warm… and we have central HVAC, it wasn’t that it was cold, it was that they were 95 in cat years! Both these cats had kidney failure while Wife was in hospital with Septic Shock and necrotic pneumonia. I took them on their last ride, and went on the the hospital fo hold Wife’s foot while she was on a vent, and talk to her, loudly, about everything but the cats.
The photo is from July 2010, and Rufus is standing on the beam of a footbridge over the spillway of the frog pond just outside the front door. He never attempted to catch a frog or tadpole, but he was fascinated (all the cats are!) by the motion of the amphibians in the tiny pond. What a grand cat he was!!
All these fur babies were and are wonderful. I hope to file another pet post Friday or Saturday, tomorrow I have to go to town, I have a dentist appointment, and need to get a safety inspection sticker on the car, see the doctor about a prescription, etc, etc, etc.
Covid Roulette, one more time!!!
Just found one more pic of Rufus the I couldn’t resist!