As a small boy, Wally Cox owned a cat that was smarter than he was and smarter than the adult humans in his household. For example, like all house pets, this cat would sometimes be accidentally shut in a room with all the doors and windows closed. When that happened, the cat would meow, then wait. If that didn’t bring a human running to let the cat out of the room, then the cat would knock something small off a shelf or table onto the floor, then wait. If that didn’t bring a human running to let the cat out of the room, then the cat would knock something large off a shelf or table onto the floor, then wait. The bigger items made lots of noise, and soon a human would come running to let the cat out of the room. Once the cat was shut in the basement with lots of canning jars. This time, however, the humans thought that they would train the cat. No matter how many jars of canned goods the cat knocked onto the floor, the humans would NOT come running to let the cat out of the basement. The cat knocked a canning jar onto the floor, then another, and then another—until 32 canning jars were on the floor. The humans remained resolute, and did not come running to let the cat out of the basement. Then a truly major racket exploded in the basement, and the humans came running and opened the door to the basement. The cat came out of the basement—objective achieved—and walked haughtily away. This is what had happened. An ironing board was at the top of the basement stairs, and the cat had managed to knock it over so that it crashed down the basement stairs. After that experience, the humans were properly trained. Whenever the cat needed to be let out of a room or the basement, the humans came running—very quickly.
People get dogs for various reasons, including to replace a deceased pet. One older man came to the Friends of County Animal Shelters (FOCAS) to look for a puppy that was born after March 20. He asked Peggy, a volunteer there, “Do you believe in reincarnation?” Peggy replied that she was willing to believe in a lot of things if it would persuade the man to adopt a pet. The older man explained that his dog had died on March 20. Of course, he had grieved over the death of his pet, but an angel had appeared to him in a dream and told him that he would have to look for his dog but that his dog would return to him. “So,” said the man, “here I am to start looking.” He looked at several dogs, and one dog that he looked at looked at him. He said, “There she is!” Peggy pointed out that the dog was three or four years old and definitely not a puppy, but the man was satisfied. When the cage door opened, the dog ran to the man, who said, “I’ll take this one; this one is mine.” Outside, after the adoption forms had been filled out, the man and the dog walked to his car. The dog waited by the passenger’s side until the man opened it, then she jumped in the car. The man and the dog then drove away together.
On April 13, 1931, in Minneapolis, MN, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Remackel were asleep in their apartment when a next-door neighbor decided to set the building on fire. Their pet Spitz, Buster, woke up first, and he went to Mrs. Remackel’s bedroom at 4 a.m. and woke her up, licking her face, pulling the blanket off the bed, and finally lightly biting her arm—but not hard enough to break the skin. Finally awake and smelling smoke, Mrs. Remackel woke up her husband, who was in another room. The Remackels made it to safety, and Buster went from door to door in the apartment building, barking and throwing himself against the doors, making lots of noise. The neighbors also got out safely. The last thing that Buster saved was Fluffy, the Remackels’ Persian cat. No one died in the fire, no one was injured, and the man who set the fire was arrested. Several newspapers in Minneapolis wrote about Buster, and in 1932 he received a Gold Medal, the highest honor given by the Latham Foundation.
Mulla Nasruddin had two lovebirds, but he worried when they did not excrete their waste for an entire week. A veterinarian paid a house call, looked in the lovebirds’ cage and asked, “Do you always line the bottom of the cage with a map of the world?” Mulla Nasruddin explained that he usually used newspaper to line the bottom of the cage, but that he hadn’t been able to find any newspaper last week when he cleaned the cage and so he had used an old map of the world. The veterinarian said, “That explains it! Lovebirds are very sensitive. They haven’t excreted their waste because they figure that the world has had all the crap it can stand!”
Naturalist Sir David Attenborough knows a lot about animals. Once in a while, he receives hate mail from creationists because he does not believe that an infinitely good and merciful God created the organisms he knows so much about. Of course, he is an intelligent man, and he has reasons to back up his beliefs. For example, he says, “I always reply by saying I think of a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”
Jerry Spinelli, the author of Maniac Magee and Stargirl, gets interesting letters. A boy once wrote to invite Mr. Spinelli to visit his school so he could meet the school’s pet duck. One year later, the boy again wrote Mr. Spinelli to visit his school so he could meet the school’s pet duck—but to hurry because the pet duck was getting old.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved