Pet Corner by Woof



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At the time this picture was taken, Emma was a grand 15 years old in canine years - over 73 in equivalent human years.

Fit as a fiddle, she would hunt down and carry logs that were three times the length of her own body just for fun.

She'd sleep in the master bedroom, in a cut down cardboard box filled with blankets and a pillow on which she'd lay her head. And if that sounds far fetched - if she wasn't tucked over with a blanket she wouldn't sleep and would get up and nag until someone did her the honour of covering her with the blanket.

But her greatest trick was when she was told "Go to the loo" and she'd direct accusing looks of laziness at you before pulling herself through the dog flap in the back door and going out into the large back garden, which bordered on a field and the woods in which she is pictured to the left. Hover the mouse over to enlarge.


Its A Dog's Life
A tale of human insensitivity


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BORIS the TOM - R.I.P.

Boris arrived as a young stray who'd obviously fallen for our other cat Celine. It wasn't long before they had a litter and seemed as happy as pie. Eventually, after most of the kittens grew and moved on, Boris and Celine distanced themselves from each other but still seemed good friends.

True to his tomular self, off he'd go on nocturnal adventures but seldom stayed away for longer than 24 hours. So when one time he failed to return, by the third day I was quite concerned, having called for him throughout each day in the enclosed back garden to our home in the center of Hove in Brighton, England.

On the third evening of his disappearance I was about to return indoors after unsuccessfully calling when I heard a pitiful moan. There was Boris, dragging himself by his front paws along the garden path towards the door. His head was covered in blood and he looked a terrible mess.

At the time we had little money and after getting our injured friend indoors and making several telephone calls, we eventually secured the kind help of an animal charity. We learned that Boris had shattered his pelvis, broken several ribs and lost most of his front upper and lower teeth. The vet considered he'd been attacked by someone and not struck by a vehicle. We were horrified.

He was kept at the veterinary hospital for two weeks then returned home, where we had to keep him in a special cage to restrict his movement and allow his broken pelvis to mend. He was confined to the cage for almost two months.

He made an exceptional recovery, considering he hardly had any teeth left with which to eat.

What still puzzles me is how he got back into the garden, which was surrounded by high walls - five feet down either side of the garden and 20 feet high at the rear, with no gaps anywhere. He'd certainly not been in the garden as I'd searched it daily. A mind boggling feat of endurance.

We then moved to Essex, where Boris, now fully recovered, found himself with a huge back garden to explore and many more adjoining it. We had several happy years until my own family split up and I left the big house and moved away, so that my wife, three children and two stepchildren might continue living there.

I moved, taking Boris with me to Southampton in Essex, where I'd found a new job in nearby Winchester. There was just Boris and myself in a small house I rented in a quiet cul-de-sac in the center of Southampton. I felt a little guilty as I'd be gone working each day, often for several hours in the evening and often at weekends.

Mindful of his close encounter with death, I'd warn him of the dangers of the city. There was something in his wise old eyes that made me feel he understood. He had his own cat flap at the back of the house and a very tiny enclosed garden, though it was possible for him to explore beyond it. Yet I cannot remember ever once returning to that house at the end of work or a journey out and not finding him indoors, or on calling for him seeing him appear just moments later.

A year later and our individual sojourns in life had turned us into closer friends than before. By now his former terrible pelvic injuries had turned noticeably a little arthritic and he'd developed a slight limp and was obviously in some pain.

I'd met a new friend and rented a house in the Hampshire countryside at a place with the unlikely name of Lower Upham. It was idyllic - fields, fields, rivers, more fields and large woods. We'd all moved to the house in deep winter on a bleak, snowy February day when temperatures dropped to minus nine degrees centigrade and fell to -17° at night - quite unusual for that part of the country.

By the time the winter began to fade, it seemed that Boris was happy in his new element. He'd made very good friends with Emma (pictured above) and all seemed well.

Sadly he didn't live to enjoy the summer in his new home. Returning home from work one evening, he'd gone missing. I wasn't duly alarmed - there was a lot of territory for him to explore. The next morning he was still nowhere to be found and we left for work. In the evening he was still missing, and by midnight I'd grown a little alarmed and went out looking with a torch.

I found him lying in a small gap between our house and an adjoining, disused chapel that was really no more than a shed. His body was cold and there was no sign at all of any injury. Whether he'd eaten poison, or simply gone out to die remains a mystery.

Felling very sad at his loss, we brought him indoors and then dug a final resting place for him in the spacious back garden, planting a rose bush over the spot.

Boris was a powerful, muscular cat with the friendliest temperament imaginable. He was one of my best friends. I still miss him, though he's probably quite happy now in feline paradise.


A tragedy of ignorance
I had an unusual childhood. I spent the first nine years of my life, living with my parents, an older brother and my greek grandmother, in a large cottage that was converted from former stables and servants quarters in an enclosed orchard in Shropshire, England.

My father, who met and married my mother in Egypt while serving in the RAF in 1942, worked as a foreman in a steelworks just behind the orchard. The cottage came with the job, and only two other families lived in the orchard, the owner of the steelworks, and another family also employed at the factory.

As far back as I can remember, we had a cat called Tibbs. He was an adverturous, strong friendly cat and we had a great reationship.

Poor old Tibbs was never allowed to stay in the house at night, even though we had a large enclosed veranda, or outhouse adjoining the front door, where we kept all our outdoor wear, shoes and bicycles. But Tibbs was regularly locked out of the house each night, to my upset.

I never knew where he slept, but he always appeared for his breakfast when called and once again the house was his domain until the night came back. In the heavy winter of 1957, I awoke to see the previously clear ground outside covered by well over 12 inches of snow.

Tibbs was sitting on top of a coal bunker some 50 yards away across the orchard. When called, he jumped off the bunker and all that could be seen was the tip of his tail as he made his way through the soft, powdery snow to the house. It had been a bitterly cold night and I marvelled at his survival and also felt very sad that he had been made to endure such hardship.

For several days, he was allowed to remain in the house until the cold weather grew less severe.

Several years later, when I was nine, my father changed jobs and we moved to a new house a few miles away, on a large estate. Again we were lucky, the road we moved to was bordered by large open fields at the front.

One summer day I was at home alone playing with Tibbs and his ball of wool in the front room. He loved to play. There had been some flies in the house and I had sprayed some Flit insecticide around the room with a pump spray gun, which I left out on the table. I grabbed the spray gun and shot a few sprays at Tibbs as he ran across the room.

I tripped over a footstool and one slipper flew away from my foot and spiralled through the air to land perfectly on Tibbs head. He remained motionless and I though it funny and started to laugh.

Moments later I realised something was not right. Tibbs was not moving. I hurried across and took off the slipper and was horrified to see that both his eyes were foaming up. He remained motionless and made no sound.

I ran into the kitchen and soaked a cloth in warm water, rang it out and spent what seemed like an age wiping the foam away from Tibbs' eyes. Soon, he sat up and began trying to wash his eyes with his paws. They were still emitting foam, so I washed them as much as I could, and also washed his paws to clear away any of the insecticide that might be left.

It seemed to take a long time for him to recover, but after a while he seemed back to his usual self and asked to be let out into the garden.

I felt very bad over what I had done. I had not realised the danger. In fact, a few years later, Flit and other ddt based insecticides were banned due to their harmful and accumulative effects.

Several months later, my mother took me aside and explained that Tibbs had developed cataracts in both eyes. She knew how fond I was of our cat. I had never told her of the Flit gun incident.

The vet had said it was kinder to put Tibbs down as he was going blind and nothing could be done to help him. I was devastated.

When the day arrived, just a few days later, my parents did not want me to go with them to the vet and I had to say a heart wrenching goodbye to Tibbs, who mewed softly at me from within the small wicker carrier the vet had provided to take him to the surgery.

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