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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Goodbye Hello

I’m sure you’re familiar with the adage that you shouldn’t compare your children, or what about comparing your house to your neighbors, or your wealth to your best friends. The point is comparisons more often than not leave you wanting or pining for something you don’t have or maybe did have at one time but no longer do.

Last summer, our beloved family cat Gandalf died. If you are a close friend of mine, or a relative then you will know I had an adore/dislike relationship with my cat. I loved him many times, but he irritated me when he would do things like claw my furniture, or claw under the beds, or get stuck inside of a massive stereo speaker that my husband refused to get rid of.

Toward the end of Gandalf’s life he was very sick and his sickness was messy. I’ll say no more because really it would turn your stomach. I thought, mistakenly, that I would be glad when he finally departed. After all, I would no longer have to chase him off tables, bars, away from breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, and the hair would no longer have to be swept up on a daily basis. I swore, near the end of his life, that I would never get another animal again.

I was wrong about so many things.

When Gandalf died I cried like a baby. I was profoundly struck by just how much of a part of our family he was. He was that annoying relative who you love to complain about but would really miss if he was gone. I was even more surprised by how upset my kids were over the cat’s death. Sometimes, months later, they would just start crying and say how much they missed Gandalf.

Yet I didn’t really appreciate what a fine cat he was until my kids finally broke me down and talked me into getting another cat. Several weeks ago, we came home from the Rescue Society with a beautiful, three year old cat named Cupcake. Don’t let the sugary name fool you.

To our surprise, we learned rather quickly that not all cats will let you pet them whenever you want to. Not all cats like to be held like a baby. Not all cats don’t mind two young children charging around the house, playing drums, guitars, and the piano and shooting Nerf guns with their friends.

I have found myself over the last several weeks comparing Cupcake to Gandalf quite a few times, and I realized that Gandalf was really a super chill cat and Cupcake is not chill. She’s skittish and is not afraid to swat at you if she doesn’t like the way you approach her to pet her. Cupcake is playful for the allotted time of one hour a day that she feels like playing, instead of frisky all the time like Gandalf was. And Cupcake will hide the minute the noise level gets too loud.

However, because I remembered the adage of not comparing children or making sure if you do to see the unique things both kids bring to the table, I started thinking about all the ways Cupcake is different that are great. Cupcake never bolts! What a miracle. You had to shimmy out of our door when Gandalf was alive to make sure he didn’t try and escape his human prison.

Cupcake does claw, but she actually stops the minute you say ‘no Cupcake’. Cupcake has the loudest, most soothing purr on earth. You needed a microphone to hear Gandalf’s purr. Yet the best thing about Cupcake is what she has reminded me about―not all animals or humans are alike, and it is up to each of us to find the good and likeable things in them. And as a bonus, Cupcake is really helping to teach my kids about earning trust and patience. They’ve had to work to get her to let them pet her, and they have to work to keep her trust. What a great lesson to learn that trust takes work and continuous effort and is not always just given.
So I have officially said goodbye to Gandalf, though he will always have a place in my heart as the worst mouse catcher ever! And hello to Cupcake―the cat with capital S sass.

Have you ever gotten a new pet that you ended up comparing with an old one?

Have a great day!
Julie, The Marchioness of Mayhem

*Image credit belongs to: photo credit: Tjflex2 via photopin cc

13 comments:

  1. I have compared every cat I've ever had to my first cat Bailey. Sometimes it feels like I keep getting new cats in the hope that I'll eventually find him again, because for me, he was the perfect cat and none of the others have come close to matching his perfection. Then I remember he peed on the floor or my sheets and my brother was convinced he didn't exist, because my cat was so scared of strangers, and in particular loud men like my brother, that he was always in hiding when they came over. And then I start to see the unique traits the new cats have that I enjoy. Admittedly, with some of them (*cough, Dakota, cough*) that can be more difficult than with others. But I still wind up loving them all.

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    1. I hear you Mindy. Cupcake tried to scratch one of the boys this morning for no reason, and I found myself reminiscing that Gandal never once scratched anyone. Sigh.

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  2. When our German shepherd, Lena, died, I was heartbroken. We could not get another GSD after her. So we adopted a Doberman from our local shelter, whom we named Edith. Edith is young, energetic, and not cuddly--all very different from Lena. We are working to embrace the difference, but yeah--it's hard.

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    1. I grew up with a German Shephard named Traveler. He was the best dog in the world! I never had a dog I loved as much as him.

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  3. Julie,
    What a sweet blog. My dog has been on my last nerve the past week, but I think she has been getting into trouble because we've been gone so much. She has separation anxiety, which apparently manifests itself in an eating disorder - i.e. a whole plate of brownies yesterday! Or else she just has a sweet tooth and doesn't want to share. This morning I was recalling a show I watched with my daughter on Animal Planet called "Bad Dog" and I wasn't as mad at her anymore. One dog on the show completely destroyed a brand new leather sofa. If my dog was destructive like that, I would flip out!

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  4. Everyone loves my cat Geri. (Even Catherine) She'll let anyone pet her or hold her like a baby. However, I've had a love/hate relationship with her, myself. When I was married, she ignored me and always followed that awful man I was married to around like he was the Great White God (he's not, in case you're wondering.) But after he left, I think she realized it was *me* who kept her food dish full and she suddenly stopped ignoring me and giving me her backside, and instead started following me around.

    Now, she sleeps next to me every night (sometimes almost pushing me off a KING bed, for heaven's sakes.) and meows just to hear herself meow nonstop (which can be more than annoying when you're trying to write a book). And she is THE worse mouse catcher EVER. She has to be worse than Gandalf. She just has to be! Sorry excuse for a cat. If the other felines knew, they'd kick her out of the species.

    But I will miss her when she's gone. (She's just tuned 12 and I've noticed that she sleeps a lot more than she used to, and I can't help but wonder how many good years she has left.) For an inside/outside cat 12 is kinda old.

    I love that she's grown up with my son (we got her when she was 6 weeks old). When he was younger, she never ran from him and even stayed on the bed if he happened to be jumping on it. She is very trusting (and perhaps not all that smart.)

    All of that said, she actually *is* a good cat. And I'm glad I have her. (But don't tell her that - it's a thing we have.) LOL

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    1. She sounds wonderful, Ava. We should have gotten her and Gandalf togehter and let them date! Two kitties who can't catch a mouse to save one of their 9 lives!

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    2. I do love Geri. :) She's very friendly. I'm not sure if Kiki and Dakota are good at mouse-catching, but one of my earlier cats, Nikki was great at it. She was just not so good at mouse-killing. She'd catch them and then play with them like they were her toy mice. Augh! Gross. I think it has something to do with my cats always being indoor-only cats. Oh well.

      Twelve is getting kind of old for an indoor-outdoor kitty. I'm sure you'll miss her more than you think you will once she's gone. Even if she does shove you out of a king-size bed.

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  5. No matter how long we have a pet and how they aggravate us with one thing or another, I promise you they leave us with a huge hole in our hearts when they cross over the Rainbow Bridge. I can remember crying for days after losing a pet. It’s real grief. I am so happy to hear that you went right out and adopted (rescued) another kitty. What a lucky little baby. Cupcake has probably had some mistreatment in life and needs to know that you are a secure person who will take good care of her. Time and patience will prove this to her. I’ll bet before you know it, she will be approaching you to be petted and snuggle. We have adopted two kitties recently and the second one was a little older than a kitten age when we got him. It has taken him a good month to get over some of his shyness and now he acts like this is really his home. I love my kitties and I know your little Cupcake will help to fill that hole in your heart. Bless you for opening your home and your heart to this little kitty.

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    1. Oh, Connie! This was exactly what I needed to hear today! Especially since Cuppie, as I like to call her, tried to nip my hand when I was petting her today. Um, not a love nip either! I'm gonna make this cat love me if it's the last thing I do!

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  6. I love this line, Julie! "He was that annoying relative who you love to complain about but would really miss if he was gone."

    That's exactly how I view our dog, Carly. She gets on my nerves so bad, but she sure is great company when I'm by myself or Hot Builder's out of town. She's a safety dog! ;)

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    1. I love that, 'A safety dog'! Gandalf was my safety cat!

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