I hope this note finds you well.
Ms. Annette and I have always surrounded ourselves with other animals we call pets. As a child, I can remember my first dog. His name was Mumbles, and for several of my early years on the farm we were constant companions. He was a little black and white mutt who just showed up one day and became my immediate friend. Annette’s first dog was essentially a series of small dogs with the same name: Jiggs.
Until a few years ago, I had never heard the phrase rescue dog or cat—but all of the pets we have had over the years, in fact, were rescue animals. My father once said he would never have a pet with better papers than he had. Since we were mutts, our animals had to be mutts.
About thirty years ago, our niece, Erin Enderlin, was visiting for the weekend and saw a free kitten ad in the Benton Courier. Annette had never had a cat but reluctantly agreed to check out the kittens. Erin and Ms. Annette went on an adventure to check out the kittens and before noon on that Saturday came home with two little kittens; they were quickly named George and Gracie.
George didn’t live long but Gracie became a mainstay of our household. She lived to be twenty-plus years old as an indoor/outdoor cat. She was a small cat (eight pounds) but could hold her own with animals three and four times her size. She ruled the roost in our house and was completely attached to Annette, and Annette to her.
When we moved to Lake Hamilton, one of her favorite things to do was to walk the seventy steep steps down to the lake each day, take two licks of the water and come back up to the screened porch. When she got old and had trouble maneuvering down the steps, at least once a day, one of us would carry her down to the lake and let her take her two licks of lake water. During a cold snap in the winter, she died, and we buried her in Annette’s garden with a nice little cat gravestone.
We both had decided that we would not get another animal, but that lasted only about a year. Amy Enderlin, Erin’s sister, called us one night and said one of her friends had a litter of kittens that needed homes. Again, we reluctantly agreed to go have a look; that was a mistake. Not only did we come home with one cat; we came home with two little cats: Rosie and Noodles.
The Girls are sisters. They both now weigh in at about fifteen pounds. Rosie looks like a Maine Coon and Noodles is a ginger tabby. The Girls are seven to eight years old and, like Gracie before them, our lives revolve around them.
We could do worse.
Have a good journey,
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/writer/marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 45 years. He recently released Country Doctors of Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His other books, The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at amazon.com.