Monday, November 23, 2009

The Virtue of Patience

Peach, my sister, sent me this photo three weeks ago. It's not just a cute picture; it's a tribute to her patience and persistence.

On December 20 of last year she stood in line for quite a while at a very crowded pet store to adopt a couple of kittens. She chose a brother and sister, just a few weeks old, purchased all the necessary supplies, and happily took her pets to introduce them to their new home. That's when she discovered that her kittens were feral. No one had mentioned it when she chose them and they thrust the papers into her hands.

It took nearly six months before Persy (short for "Persnickety," the female cat) would let Peach touch her. Now after 11 months Finny (Persy's twin whose name is short for "Finicky"-- he's the one on the bed) has only allowed her to touch him on the foot! Peach keeps working with them, wooing them into a relationship, and little by little it is paying off.

We had several pets growing up. Mostly I remember the strays: a Cocker Spaniel we loved who moved out on us when he found people down the street who'd let him up on the furniture; a cat we named Peeka because the neighbors' cat was named Boo; a bold beggar of a cat who would come to the dinner table and put his paws on your lap, looking for a handout. We called him TC for Top Cat, a cartoon character on TV. I liked them, but I never really loved them.

Peach loved them; most of the pets we had were hers. There was Gunky, the guinea pig with a deformed foot who lived in a big box with a loft that Dad made for him. After he died he was replaced by Gunky II. Tim and Ted got to keep the classroom white rat one summer (oh, joy!) and the teacher didn't ask for him back in the fall (oh, bother!). Peach and her friend Sandy must have been feeling particularly patriotic one day and thought that a white rat with red eyes should have a blue tail. I guess he shouldn't have -- he expired a few days later.

Over the years Peach has had other animals, including a couple of rabbits. She got Peter from a friend at college, and brought him home where he lived part-time in the house and part-time in a cage outside. Peter turned out to be a girl -- a very big girl -- who loved to play in the fireplace and chew people's shoes.

Years later our brother Tim drove home from Boston and brought his very traumatized rabbit, Bun, with him. Tim gave Bun to Peach, who gave Bun six months to learn to use the litter box. Two days before his time was up, Bun finally got it. His favorite past time was watching Sesame Street. When the show didn't get turned on he'd thump until someone would come and turn it on for him.

For a few years Peach was pet-less. When our boys were young, they wanted a dog. Problem was, one wanted a Chinese Crested and the other wanted a Rottweiler -- polar opposites! So I took Peach with me to the animal shelter to help me find our idea of a compromise -- a cat, a delightful smoke colored fur ball that she kept for us till Christmas. She wrapped that kitty up in a baby blanket and took him with her to work and let him sleep on her bed. She's had a few cats of her own since then.

I'm sad it's taken so long for Persy and Finny to warm up to her, but she doesn't mind. She's in it for the long haul. Those cats have no idea how good they've got it!

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