Monday, April 19, 2021

AtoZ of Animals I have met: ‘P’ is for Pantero #AtoZBloggingChallenge#


And here is the last of the endless black cats in this series of blogs. Don’t tell Missy Prissy, but Pantero was my favorite black cat. I know, I know; moms aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Pantero really was. He was a very good cat and despite the way some people whose names shall not be mentioned treated him, he behaved himself and was everything anyone could desire in a cat.

He was born in a barn, but I can’t remember if he was brought to us by the barn’s owner or if Nino brought him home, but he was still a very young kitten. His eyes were already open and he had been weaned, and he also easily took to the litter box; however, he preferred letting us know when he needed to go out.

From the tiny little thing he was when he arrived at our house, he grew to be a more than decent sized cat. In his prime, I would say he weighed close to 20 pounds, which is why his name went from Panterino (little male panther) to Pantero (male panther).

Despite this, he tended to be reserved and a pacifist with humans, although he had his moments when people (names again withheld) tended to be aggressive toward him. Then, he would put his teeth and claws to work. The thing he particularly hated was when someone would pull his whiskers and jowls. Those were the only times I would hear him hiss, if that is what you can classify the sound that comes when someone is pulling your cheeks.

Pantero is another of those four-footed babies of mine that I could write an entire book about,
but space here is limited (sort-of) and so I’ll limit myself to one of his adventures (not completely happy, but it did have a happy ending) and two interesting habits. I’ll start with the habits:

We had some very nice chestnut two-by-fours on the stairs leading up to the bedroom. There was no need for a bannister, because the slats went from slightly below the step to the ceiling. I’m thinking some cats need a sort of observation deck, so they can keep an eye on their humans. We talked about Missy Prissy’s reasoning, but Pantero used his vantage point as a pillow.

Yes, a pillow. He would sit up there to make sure everything was all right, and then… then he would fall sleep, his head leaning against the boards. He would still be sitting straight up, but the board kept him from falling off the stairs. I never actually thought about it because it became commonplace. And then my Mom came to visit us.

She caught the quirk the second day after she and my step-father came, and burst out laughing. Pantero opened his eyes quizzically and then fell back to sleep. I still have to chuckle whenever I think about it.

One other good thing about him was that he ate whatever you gave him. He liked bread every bit as much as he liked meat. And he liked barbecue potato chips. For him, they were the best, and his ears perked up the moment he heard the rustling of the bag. I know, they were bad for him and I didn’t give him more than two or three, but we all have our weaknesses, and his were barbecue potato chips.

Pantero was an excellent hunter, and this trait almost led to his demise. I had gone to Switzerland for a week, and the day after I left he caught a mouse that had been, unfortunately, poisoned. He made it home, but barely. Nino and my daughter saw how weak and sick he was and immediately took him to the vet.

The vet was able to get his stomach cleaned out and gave him some medicines to buck him up, but it was touch and go there for several days, until the day I started back home. His listlessness disappeared and he even started eating again. He went outside the day I got home and came running down our little street to welcome me home.

Is there any doubt as to why he’s my favorite of the endless black cats?



Copyright © 19 April 18, 2021. Mary E. Purpari. All Rights Reserved.   

Saturday, April 17, 2021

AtoZ of Animals I Have Met: ‘O’ is for Opossums #AtoZBloggingChallenge#

Although I live in Brooklyn, New York, the area I live in is a lovely mixture of big city and rural area. I have often called my backyard a forest because of all the trees growing in the neighborhood. In fact, during the summer my backyard truly seems to be nothing less than a small woods area. You never really have to worry about people spying on you, because they’d need x-ray vision to see through the trees.

There is also an abundance of wildlife—besides the loud, chaotic, extremely annoying parties, which are, thankfully, a thing of the past and future—which includes a few feral cats; at least 16 types of birds (thanks to a nearby bird sanctuary) including cardinals, a red hawk family (watching them court was amazing), chickadees, blue jays (very annoying), a woodpecker (Woodie wasn’t joking: they really do laugh!), and others and an unknown quantity of squirrels.

And then, there are two more animals, both of which tend to be a little shy. That’s fine, I don’t need to be on a first name basis with the raccoons (there is one that is enormous and a little bit scary; it’s pretty old, I think, and it’s been through the mill a few times, which is probably how it lost its tail) and there are the opossums.

I like the opossums, probably because the ones that come are usually pretty young. I think their moms bring them and then leave. The poor babies are so ugly they’re cute and they win over my heart every single time. Actually, I haven’t seen an opossum for a couple of years. In fact, the last time I did, I even took a picture of him. For some reason, Opossums look like their name should be Gertrude or Joseph, or at least in my opinion.

I’d like to share the story that I wrote on Facebook that accompanied the photo of Joseph:

 “Last night I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard this shriek and I thought one of the cats had caught a bird (it was definitely not a mouse--too loud and low-pitched). I didn't think anything else about it until I heard this giant bag of leaves I have on my porch, rustling.

Since I’d heard it the night before, I knew who it was: Joseph, the opossum. Since I'm smart (sometimes) I connected the dots and figured Joseph might be in trouble, so I went out to look.

The poor little guy, whose name should probably be changed to Snoopy, had gotten his tail all tangled up in the bag. He knows me & usually isn't afraid, but this time, when I grabbed the bag to help him, he pulled until he got free and then took off. Of course, opossums don't take off very quickly, but still...
See, this is one of the reasons we should NEVER leave plastic bags out in nature: nature is curious and tries to check things out, and very often gets into trouble. Snoopy Joseph was lucky that I was there and could help him. Most aren't that lucky. The photo is a slightly younger Joseph.”

A funny thing happened about six months later. First, though, I have to mention that Missy Prissy tends to climb up my window screens to let me know she’d like to come in. That being said, one night a terrible racket on the porch caused me to jerk awake and bang my head on the ceiling about 10 feet or so above my bed. I looked over whence came the noise and saw this big form splatted on the screen on my bedroom window.

My first thought was “What the heck is that?” and then, I started to laugh: it was Joseph. The only reason that I could think of that might explain his being on the screen was that he had seen Missy Prissy climbing the screens and she got to come in. I guess he figured that if it worked for her, why shouldn’t it work for him. He tried all three screens and, as I think about it now, that may have been the last time I saw him.

Anyway, now that you know what the wildlife of Brooklyn, New York is really about, maybe you’ll have a different perspective about this crazy, wildlife city. I sure do.



Copyright © 17 April 17, 2021.  Mary E. Purpari. All Rights reserved  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

AtoZ of Animals I have met: “‘I’ is for Imp of the Devil” #AtoZBloggingChallenge#

When I was a fairly little girl, my maternal Grandfather (Gramps) bought my maternal Grandmother (Grammy) a silver toy poodle. I spent so many weekends with them that Beau Maurice became one of my best friends ever. And you’re probably wondering what a silver toy poodle named Beau Maurice (where did she get that name? She was English) has to do with an imp of the Devil.

It’s a good question. I would also like to know the answer to that one, to tell the truth. He was the sweetest little guy; I just loved him to death. He did tend to leave to his toys all over the house in the most unexpected places. And his howls were almost as shrill as the sirens of the firetrucks that he howled with as they screamed past my Grandparents’ house. Or maybe it was because he would jump onto the back of the sofa under the window so he could hear them better and be more in tune with
his howls.

I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is, that that is what she called him.

Something else I know is that when we would call Grammy, she would say, “Where’s Mickie?” and he would run and jump onto the back of the couch, with his whole back half wagging (I knew, because I’d seen him doing it before.) Then she would tell him, “She’s on the phone” and he would come and lick the phone. And when I said, “Hi Beau, I love you”, he would give soft little yips in reply.

And when I stayed at their house, he always knew I was coming, because he would be sitting in that usual spot watching for the car to arrive, and then he would come greet me at the door with a flurry of yips and jumps that any gymnast would envy. Yep, he was my best friend.

He lived to a very old age and was Grammy’s companion for several years after Gramps died. She obtained another that looked almost just like him, but it was never quite the same and when the second died, she never got another. There was only one Beau Maurice, the little Imp of the devil, and I’m so glad I got to be his friend.

The silver toy poodle here on the right has the same caring look Beau had, but he was immaculately groomed, at least once a month.




Copyright © 11 April 2021. Mary E. Purpari. All Rights Reserved.