Archive for March, 2017

The Long-lost Sun Finally Appears

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Life without the sunshine can get a bit depressing…at least for most people anyway…and that includes me. I love the sun!  Its warmth feels so soothing and therapeutic!   Its beauty is a harbinger of hope!  When we think about  it, life could not exist without the sun.

We had a beautiful day today weatherwise,  and we can expect a lovely day tomorrow as well.  And then a couple more days of rain…followed by sunny days once again.   There is so much  flip-flopping in Spring.

Weather is actually very important because, despite depressing news items and personal problems, if the weather is beautiful, somehow our spirits are lifted.  It is a fact that the loveliness of nature is a manifestation of God’s power and love. We feel the warmth of the sun on our faces and see  the rippling ocean waves or the majesty of a mountain peak, and regardless of what is going on around us, for a few moments at  least, we feel good!

So Spring  is here with the promise  of warmth,  beach days, an abundance of flowers of all varieties, trees adorned with exquisite foliage and the privilege of awakening to birds serenading us with their own unique music!  Can anything be more wonderful than  that?

Let us be thankful for what we have now,   enjoy the blessings of the present and look forward with positive thoughts and actions to the future!  For Spring has sprung and we’re all part of the fun!  Until the next time,



“Spring Has Sprung,” as the song lyric goes…

Monday, March 20th, 2017



Meet the Doberman Boys…

Friday, March 17th, 2017

The stories of my pets are all told in detail in my book,”A Legacy of Love,” which is available on Amazon, as are all my other books as well.

My pet stories are written in conjunction with events in my life.  So to get the chronology correct, I’ll fill you in on what was going on when the Doberman brothers first entered our lives.

I had the feeling then and now that my late husband, Nick, even knew at that time …around 1986…that he had heart disease, but he refused to get a check-up, even though it was obvious that he needed one.  No one in the family could convince him to get a medical exam, and, believe me, relatives on his side and mine did try!  When   his eyes were bloodshot, he   refused even  to see an ophthalmologist. It was a real challenge, not only for him, but for the rest of our family.

It was at that precise time that Nicky brought home two little and  adorable Doberman Pinscher pups.  One was cuter than the other!  There was a black one, whom we later named Ruffian, and a reddish brown one, whom we later called Bucky R.  Both were named after race horses since Nick was a racing enthusiast!

Nick’s  sister, Emily, was supposed to be given one for her protection since she was single and lived alone.  We were to keep the other, mainly for my protection when Nick wasn’t home.

However, Emily refused to accept one of the dogs.  She insisted that she only liked German Shepherd dogs as pets.  So Nick and I now had two Doberman Pinschers and my cat, Schuyler James.

I think Nick had a premonition that he would die and wanted to leave his wife and his sister with protection.  I wish instead that he had gone to a cardiologist and an ophthalmologist and saved his life with the treatments that he needed!  But he didn’t.

Meanwhile, we went through  our everyday routine!  Once, we left Schuyler and the Dobies in the same room, the enclosed front porch, by accident.  My cat was so smart that he climbed a ladder to the top that the dogs couldn’t climb.  He was safe all day as s result and the Dobies were fast asleep when we got home from work.

Although the dogs stole  Schuyler’s food numerous times, we solved that problem by placing the pets and their food in different rooms.  Schuyler learned to defend himself eventually.   I remember one time I saw him hit the dogs on their heads with his paws while he was safe under the kitchen table as they walked by.  But when he needed to be defended, I was fortunate enough  to be there to help my little cat.

Once, in the evening, Schuyler waited until the Dobies were asleep and walked  around them in our living room so he could finally sit on my lap! I loved that cat and those two dogs so much!

When my dad was brought to the hospital for aneurysm surgery, and my dear mom had a stroke…both during the same weekend back in the summer of 1987,  Nick drove his sister and me to visit them and help out with the plan that he would meet us there after work.  Nick never made it to my parents’ house that Monday evening  in early August.

Emily and I took a cab back  to our house on a hunch that something was seriously wrong.  We asked the police to join us there.  It was a devastating evening!  Nick had died earlier that evening all alone in the house that he loved.  We found out later that he had had a heart attack.

My mom recovered from the stroke, but my dad died three months after Nick.  1987 was the worst year of my life!

Eventually, my mom’s house was robbed, and I insisted that she live with me in the house I had moved into in 1989 when I had remarried and now lived there with my husband, Manny, his two teenage children, and Schuyler.   The dogs had grown really big, and my mom was too weak to live with two large dogs, so I had to find good homes for the two Dobies whom I had grown to love so much.

Too much loss and pain!  It took me a year to find the right homes for my dogs!  Ruffian  was to live with a retired Doberman Pinscher trainer, who wanted him as a companion.  Bucky R became the protector of a divorced woman and her children.  They both had good, loving homes, but I felt as though I were losing my children.  In a sense I guess I was!  But my frail mom could not live in the same house with two playful, big and relatively untrained dogs.    I had no choice!

It hurt so much when I had to say goodbye to them.  It is described in detail in my book!

There’s not much more to say except that sometimes life forces us to do certain things that are much too difficult!  But we have to do them anyway.  We have no choice.  I think of my dogs often and hope that they had happy lives.  They were good dogs and deserved the best!





Snowball’s Story:Part II

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I left you in the last post with a cliff-hanger!  I had adopted a little white kitten with an adorable black stripe under his chin and on his tail…without even discussing it with my husband.  Manny and I had agreed to wait at least a few months or longer to adopt another pet so as to give us some time to mourn our Russian blue cat, Schuyler, who had died just a few weeks before!

Now, without asking him, I had gone and adopted this precious little three-month old cat, who had just been rescued and was as nervous as I was!  I couldn’t keep Snowball’s arrival a secret for long, of course, so I knew I had better think of something to say to Manny, who had just walked in.

He knew right away that something was up, and that was without seeing the carrier or hearing Snowball meow. The kitty had hidden somewhere and was very quiet.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked.

Nothing really,” I answered, slowly adding, “I just adopted a cute little kitten, and I think he is hiding under the sofa!”

“Cheryl, we had agreed to wait,” he said.  “This is too soon.  We’re still mourning our Schuyler,” he said.

“I know,” I said, adding, “but Sylvia brought him over..,and I couldn’t resist the kitten’s  cute, anxious little face.”

He looked at me incredulously.  “And now he’s somewhere  under the couch?”

“Yes, but he’ll come out .  He looked hungry,” I said.

It took a half-hour for Snowball to venture out and five minutes or so for me to catch him and put him in his carrier.  Out of fear, I guess, he bit my hand.  I forgave him and fed him.  Eventually, he meowed a little and took a nap.   LOL    After all, he was probably more nervous than I  was!

It took a long time for Snowball to adjust to us and for us to adjust to him and his many defensive  “rescued animal”  ways.  But I loved him from the start, and soon Manny, too, began to love him!  (And he was never a real animal person like me! ) But who could resist Snowball?

Manny and I had to be cautious around Snowball.  He loved to play a game of sneaking up on us.  Sometimes, he would scratch us when  we were caught unaware and draw a little blood.  His claws were really sharp!

Eventually, we had no choice but to bring him to the vet to be declawed.  We felt bad about it, but we couldn’t be scratched and bleed all the time!

The irony was once Snowball lost his claws, he would bite instead!  But he nipped and it didn’t hurt!  He was just playing with us!  There soon came a time where we could actually show our affection to Snowball, and he would welcome it!   He was so adorable!   He would fit on my lap and jump off in about five minutes, as though he were timing it.  He twirled around to show off his cuteness!

I especially loved to take pictures of him around the stuffed animals on my bed.  He just seemed to fit in somehow!

We had ten wonderful years with Snowball   until my daughter noticed something strange about his mouth.  We brought him into the vet, and his diagnosis was cancer.

We lost our Snowball a short time later.  It was a kind  of cancer that couldn’t be treated.

The last night he lived, he stayed in the bed with me.  It was too much for my husband.  The bond of love that night is unforgettable. The memory brings tears  to my eyes, and I haven’t adopted another pet since.  I think about him every day!

Someday, maybe, we will adopt another rescued pet, but Manny and I will know when the time is right!  We have to build ourselves up first to be able to accept another much-too-short investment in love!

I do believe that beautiful quote from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “’tis better to have loved  and lost than never to have loved at all!”








Remembering Snowball

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

      When Schuyler died, I felt that I didn’t want another pet for a very long time, if ever!     Grieving for a pet is a challenging experience.  It is emotionally draining and  depressing.  Only one who has loved and lost a pet could understand that!

So when Sylvia at the local animal hospital called me with news that she had rescued an adorable white kitten who would be perfect for me, I didn’t know what to say at first.  I didn’t want to disappoint her, but then again, I wasn’t ready for another fur baby in my life!  The responsibility, the cost and the initial attachment and bonding, turning into deep love  over the years!  A love  that could be torn away when the pet dies!  Could I risk all that and more once again if I decided to adopt a cat?

Before I could say anything, Sylvia told me that she would bring the kitten over and I could take a look at him  and then make up my mind.  Before I could say a word, Sylvia hung up and, believe it it not, was at my house in about fifteen minutes!

How could  I say no to the most adorable kitten that I have ever seen?  He was tiny, all white with a little black  under his chin and on his tail, with bright green eyes and a kind of dazed, excitable expression.   It was love at first sight.  I named this little white fluff “Snowball!”

I guess Sylvia knew that I could not say no to such an adorable kitten, so she brought a carrier with her, some kitten food and a few cat toys.  She asked me to pick up the kitten and see what a great fit he and I were!  When I did, I encountered one problem.  Snowball’s claws were sharper than any other cat’s that I had ever seen or felt.  A cutie pie like like Snowball could surely inflict a lot of pain.

Sylvia left a short while later, telling me that Snowball’s  claws would hurt a lot less eventually.  I would have to learn to hold him more comfortably and he would have to relax more.

Sylvia told me to keep Snowball in his cage most of the day (and especially st night) for the first few days so he could  quiet down a little and adjust to his surroundings.

Once Snowball and I were alone,  I wondered for the first time how I would tell  Manny  that  I adopted a new pet without asking him first…especially since we had agreed not to do so for several months!

I also tried to get  Snowie into his carrier, but the little guy slipped right of my hands and started running around the house!  What was I to do?And in the middle  of my quandary, I could hear Manny’s  key in the door!

What else could possibly happen?

More on my next post!

Keep warm, dry and safe in the meantime!






Schuyler’s Story: Part 11

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

When Nick and I brought our tiny charcoal gray kitten home, along with his antibiotic medication and other paraphernalia, we were  determined that Schuyler would overcome his illness and get well again!

We conscientiously gave our little kitten his daily medication and the cat food suggested by the veterinarian, but most of all, we prayed that our kitten would grow stronger and stick around to be our pet for a long time to come! We grew to love him more each day,  and we hoped that he returned our feelings!

At first, we weren’t sure if we were imagining it, but Schuyler gradually seemed to be getting better.  He had more energy and his meow sounded less plaintive.

Schuyler  got better and better every day!   He had many challenges,  however, during his life journey.  One of them was his having to learn to live as harmoniously as possible with two Doberman Pinscher  puppies  that grew within a year into two huge, highly adventurous and mischievous full-grown dogs.  The other problem  to face were three bouts with cancer.  How much could even a brave cat  like Schuyler James endure?  You’d be surprised!

As far as the Doberman boys, Nick wanted his sister, Emily, and me to have a dog each for our protection.   Emily was single, and Nick worried about me whenever I was alone.  The problem was that Emily loved only German Shepherds, and she would not accept either dog, so the two puppies were our newest pets and Schuyler James’ new brothers.

Poor Schuyler!  Even though he held his own, there were a few close calls between Schuyler and the dogs, which are all discussed at length in my book, “A Legacy of  Love.”  In addition, many times  they stole Schuyler’s food, which I replenished.

Schuyler had two operations over the years to remove his basal cell tumors, but the third  time, when he was sixteen, the cancer was more complicated, and  he just wasn’t strong enough to sustain  the procedure.

He was given treatments at home to strengthen him, but eventually he succumbed to the effects of the tumor and died at home with Nick  and me beside him.  My biggest regret was that he wasn’t in my arms when he passed.  I was so upset that I had looked away in my sadness and  just touched him lovingly.

There isn’t a day that  I don’t think of  Schuyler.  I loved him very much!

More about my last house cat, Snowball, in my next post!

Schuyler James, A True Gentleman Cat

Monday, March 13th, 2017

I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to limit the number of posts on the beautiful pets in my life.   In my book, “A Legacy of Love,” the story of my life was told through all the pets that I have taken into my home and my heart since I was a teen-ager or younger…up to  seven years ago when my cat, Snowball,  died from cancer.

In fact, during the last few years  it has been difficult to be without a house pet for various reasons.  Now I have to rely upon memories of my own pets and bonding with the pets of my children and grandchildren.

As I have mentioned before, my father-in-law, Pete, was a butcher and generous enough to feed all the local neighborhood stray cats every evening with meat scraps from the butcher shop in which he worked.  They would be waiting for him in front of the house which  my husband, Nick, and I shared with Pete anf his wife, my mother-in-law, Ann.

Now two of the strays were a black cat with white under her chin, whom I called Skunkie, and a charcoal gray cat with a great deal of Russisn blue in him, whom I called Douglas.  Slinkie snf Foug hung around together and became a couple.  Out of their union came a beautiful litter of mostly gray kitttbs, one of which was an undernourished,  ignored and timid newborn kitten, who came to be known as Schuyler James.  This is Schuyler’s story!   Let me continue through a combination of my telling the story and quoting from my book,”A Legacy of Love.”

It was difficult for me to convince Nick to adopt Schuyler and get him the medical attention that he needed, but I did! We brought schuyler to a local vet.

“Without an appointment, we had to wait quite a while before we could get one of the veterinarians to see our sick little kitten, whom I insisted upon calling Schuyler James,probably for no other reason than that it was a distinguished name that I happened to like.

“”When we finally were allowed to bring Schuyler into the office for an examination, the vet looked at us immediately and said,’You have a very sick cat here.’  After he took a few tests, he told us that Schuyler had a serious upper respiratory infection and probably wouldn’t live more than a week, even with the antibiotics he would give us for him.

“‘Say a prayer,’ he said.  ‘I don’t suggest any heroic, experimental treatments.  They run into a lot of money, and this kitten probably won’t make it anyway.  There’s absolutely nothing else I can do for him.  ‘I’m sorry,’ he added.  ‘I hate to be so blunt, but I don’t want to give you false hope. ‘  Hebpsused for a moment and then added,As I said before, pray as much as you can.  What this little guy needs is a miracle.’

“We put Schuyler back in the blanket, thanked the depressing veterinarian and left the animal hospital, refusing to give up on our little kitten.”

More about Schuyler’s story in my next post!





Memories of Kelly Shawn

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

All the stories of my pets are special, but some of them stand out in my mind for certain reasons.  For instance, Kelly Shawn’s story is quite unique, as you will soon see.

My friend, Judy, was a reading teacher at the middle school, where I taught.  She had an Irish setter, whom she often kept in her backyard, where she played and ran around.  One day my friend thought she must be seeing double because there was another Irish setter romping along with her, who looked enough like her to be her twin.

Judy was hoping that Nick and I would want to adopt the active, happy but mysterious Irish setter since no one had answered her ads for an Irish setter that  was found.

I discussed the matter with Nick.   Then we went to Judy’s house to meet the dog, whom we couldn’t help falling in love with at first sight.  Since he was friendly, handsome and gentle, it didn’t take us long to make up our minds.  That very night we took the dog home.  We mamed him Kelly Shawn, a nice Irish name.

Kelly must have been trained very well by his owners because he never had an accident.  He barked when he needed to go out, and even in the middle of the night, he came to me to be let out rather than have an accident.  He wanted so much to be good  and to be loved.  We loved him from the start!

Kelly was affectionate and compassionate.  When I was sick, he stayed near me and kept me company if Nick  had to go out, and I was alone.

When I came home from work, there he was: my Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, all in one.    He loved his walks and waited patiently as I put my books away (I’m a retired teacher) and got his leash connected to his collar.  I loved walking with him as much as Kelly did…maybe more.

A few months later, Nick  and I decided to take Kelly in for a visit to the vet.  He looked so healthy and happy that we didn’t expect anything but a perfect report!

When the vet told us that Kelly was at least  ten years old, we were surprised, but when we were told that he had a serious kidney problem that needed immediate surgery, we were shocked.  The vet told us that, without the surgery, he would die, but he could not guarantee that he would live much longer, even with successful surgery’  How could a dog who looked so healthy be so sick?  Should Nick and I give our consent to the surgery?

We agreed  to Kelly’s  surgery, but we were broken-hearted, fearing the worst.  Nick and I decided to wait a few weeks to schedule the surgery.   The day of the surgery, Nick   had to go to work, so his sister, Emily, came with me.

I hugged Kelly tight before he was taken into the operating room.  I will always remember how he looked back at Emily and me  and wagged his tail sadly as though he were saying goodbye to us.  Somehow, I knew that I might never see my kind, loving companion again!

In my book, “A Legacy of Love,”. I described the story the best that I could.

“We found out a few hours later that Kelly did not make it through the surgery.  The vet said something so true.  “Adopting a pet is a short-term commitment to love.”

“With tears in my eyes, I agreed.  Yes, perhaps a commitment to a pet is a short one, but it shouldn’t be this short!  I had this wonderful dog for less than three months!

” I wondered if I could ever get through the pain of losing another pet. In my case, loving pets seemed to lead to too much heartbreak, and there just wasn’t enough time to enjoy them.  As Emily  and I left the animal hospital, I realized that Kelly, Nick and I hadn’t  ever taken pictures together. The memories would have to remain only in my mind, Emily’s and Nick’s.”








Tommy’s Story

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

A wise veterinarian once made a comment I could never forget. He said that adopting a pet is “a short-term investment in love.”

Isn’t that exactly what it is?  We adopt a beautiful little pet.  We fall in love with him or her, and, if we are very fortunate, we have wonderful experiences together for twelve years or more…..after which  we have our memories, which make us tear up and wish that our beloved pet were with us again!

But even though loving a pet is a wonderful experience, it  ends either  in the death of the pet or the pet companion ( “owner ” is such a crass title, I think ) .  So it is a joyful as well as a depressing journey from love (often at first sight) .. to years of happiness …to death.

Tommy’s story follows the pattern.  Nick and I loved both him and Prissie, his sister.  When Prissie  died tragically, we gave him all our love and attention.   We couldn’t get him to be a house pet, and so we were forced to worry about him continually, never knowing whether or not he would be coming home each night.  But for years he remained well and came home to us at sunset and slept in the house.  I loved him, but he bonded much more with Nick, my husband.

Then, one night, like his sister, Prissie, Tommy was run over, but unlike his sister, he survived.   The worst problem was that the vet thought it was best to amputate the leg that was badly injured.  But Nick suggested that  only part of the leg be amputated so that Tommy could still get around, if only by hobbling.

The vet agreed, and in time our Tommy was getting around rather well, but we wouldn’t allow him to leave the house while he was healing.  Tommy cooperated for a while.   But then our handsome Tom cat began to howl off and on for hours each night!  Nick and I tried to comfort him, but nothing worked!  We had no choice but to let our Tom , a cat with only three  and a half legs, go outside during the day and just come home to sleep at night.

It worked out well for months.  Tommy did his thing all day…whatever that was…but he did return home to us  at night to  sleep.

But one night he didn’t return.  Nick and I looked all over our town for him, but we couldn’t find him.

It was a hot evening, but, since the noise of the air conditioner often interfered with Nick’s sleep, we kept it off that night.  Nothing helped, though.  We were so worried that neither of us could sleep.

But then, all of a sudden, we heard the shrill sound of a cat wailing.  It couldn’t be, we thought,  as we ran to the large window, overlooking a small terrace.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!  Nick got his clothes on quickly and told me to stay inside!

There was Tommy  with a pack of wild dogs around him.  At first I couldn’t look, but then I heard our door  slam and gazed out the window to see Nick hit the wild dogs with a stick to get him away from them.  I can’t imagine what they must have done to him. I’ll quote the rest from my book .

“Then, I watched as Nick took Tommy in his arms and nestled him across his chest , his arm protecting his head, much like a parent would hold a newborn.

“I found out later that, for those first few moments, Tommy was still alive.  Somehow, I believe that the cat knew he was safe now, in the arms of his dearest friend, with whom he had bonded years before.

“When I went outside, I knew better than to say anything.  I looked at my husband lovingly as he remained holding Tommy for a while, even when the  life force had left him.

“With tears in his eyes, Nick put Tommy into a box that I found, and he buried  him in the backyard alongside Prissie.  Flowers were blooming around the gravesite.  I gazed at the marigolds and impatiens in the moonlight, and then, gently, I put my arm around my husband as we slowly walked into the house. For the months that followed, there was rarely a day that we didn’t think about Tommy.

“And now, years after I lost both Nick and Tommy, I remember the way Tommy looked at Nick before he died.  It was as though Tommy knew that, as soon as he could, Nick had rescued him, and the realization of Nick’s love comforted him in those last few moments of his life.”


Priscilla and Tommy

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

I began to love cats after I married my late husband, Nicky, and we lived with his parents for three years.

Nicky’s father, Pete, loved cats, especially the many strays in the neighborhood who wailed each night in hunger.  Pete put an end to their suffering!  Being a butcher, he brought meat scraps home each night and, after cooking them, (I hope), he fed the neighborhood stray cats.  It was uncanny how they lined up in front of the house each night For their evening meal!  For some of them, it was probably the only solid meal that they had all day.

Let’s read about the cat situation straight from my  unique book about my life in terms of my pets: “A Legacy of Love.”

“Although Nick and I were embarrassed about the ‘cat situation,’ there was really nothing that we could do about it.  However, we usually went outside when the cats were being fed, and eventually, the pride began to know us.  I even considered this friendly group of cats my little pets.

“As I remember, during the winter of 1969,  one of the cats had a litter, among whom were two tabby cats.   I named the female Priscilla, and Nick called her brother Tommy.   Priscilla, or Prissie, as I called her, became my special pet, and Tommy became Nick’s.  Neither Nick nor his parents wanted to bring any of the cats inside, so I had to enjoy Prissie  and Tommy outside the house in the front, where they congregated when not touring the neighborhood.

“Each morning on the way to the bus stop, I would spend a few minutes playing with Prissie and Tom.  Prissie was gentle and craved my attention.  She always allowed me to pick her up and even cuddle her in my arms.  Although Tommy was a tad more distant, he still allowed me to pet him.  With all that interaction with the kittens, it was amazing that I never missed my bus.”

For a while, all went really well.  I felt as though Nick and  I had two beautiful pets of our own, and that compensated for not having a place of our own for the present and all the commuting I had to do, in addition to the hard work of teaching five classes of seventh and eight grade English students.  Yes, I was more than attached to the kittens.  I loved them!  I felt needed and loved.  I guess, in a way, they fulfilled my maternal instinct for that period in my life.  Now getting back to the book…

“I remember coming home from work one evening in 1970, ready to play with Prissie and Tommy.  I was hoping to feed them some special cat food I had bought for them before my father-in-law, Pete, or the other outside cats would assemble in front of the house.  Suddenly, I knew that something was definitely wrong.

“Tommy was howling, and Priscilla was nowhere to be found.  I tried to pick up Tommy, but he backed away from me, the hair rising on the back of his neck.  At that point Nick and his mother came out and looked so forlorn I was convinced that something terrible had happened.”

Nick asked me to sit down, but  I declined, too nervous to change my position.

“There was an accident,” Nick started, first looking at his mother and then at me.  “I had just come home when I heard a screech.  The driver stopped.  She didn’t see Priscilla run in front of the car.  The woman was very sorry.”

“Is Prissy at the animal hospital?” I asked nervously.

“I’m sorry, honey,”Nick said gently. “She must have died instantly,  There was no sign of life.  I didn’t want you to see her the way she was, so I buried her in the backyard,” Nick said.

“It was a shock to me, I remember.  I suddenly felt as though I had lost a close friend or even a child.   I cried as Nick and I  planted flowers the next day and put a marker on the little grave.   Each day for months  I would go into the backyard and remember my little kitten, who barely had had enough time to grow into a cat.

“Those were difficult days for me. In addition to mourning my cat, I realized the brevity of life itself.   I knew then and there how precious time was, not only for nurturing our blessed human relationships, but also for building and enjoying relationships with our beloved pets as well.”

The next post will be devoted to Tommy’s story.