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Thursday, December 01, 2011


The Story of Pepper


One of my fellow bloggers mentioned to me that he’d love to hear the story of Pepper, our very dear and funny tabby of 8 years. His said that he had always had dogs and had always thought that cats weren’t exactly social creatures that did much more than eat and sleep.

This one if for Big Dave:

First of all, cats are soooo not boring! Growing up we had two-a mother and son duo. The mom looked like a feline version of our terrier mix and they got along famously-even sharing French toast and coffee on Sunday mornings and sleeping next to each other. The son-whom we dubbed Felix, because of his coloring, was in love with our terrier as well. He would lead her in and out of the house and get her to eat when she became blind with age. He mourned her death more than his mother’s and never quite recovered from the grief.

Our first “child” as a married couple was a beautiful pure white cat with a terrible thyroid condition that we called Snowy. She was our baby, but our daughter was all hers-she’d sit right by her during baths and feedings to make sure that I was “doing things right” in all areas of care. Till the day she passed, our Snowy was more than a pet-she was our love.

Obviously, since her thyroid condition caused her to do some very “unladylike” actions over the 13 years on this planet. We went through 3 living room carpets and 3 couches. I know some of you think we should have just put her out-but she loved all of us fiercely (even our shepherd) and we loved her as much.

Of course after her passing, as much as we loved her-we let the kids know we were oh so not going to be getting another cat.

Eight years later-our almost married daughter and son-in-law to be, who lived with us through the week, came home one Sunday night (they spent weekends with Alex’s mom) and with Alex promising us “Carine, I had nothing to do with this, I told her not to do this-I swear!”-our daughter plopped a little one pound bundle of gray into my lap.

He looked up at me and gave a pathetic “meow”.

Steve’s jaw first dropped and then it clenched and began to twitch-not a good sign.
Our daughter then regaled us with this story:

Mom, Dad, I had to take him. We were at the market and this older woman was giving all the kittens away. She couldn’t take care of them anymore. She found them with their dead mother up in a tree where she lives and rescued them. The rest of the kittens were taken right away, but this one has deformed front paws and he was freaking all the kids out. Everyone else didn’t want him. She was going to put him in a shelter. I couldn’t let him be killed.

Her mother’s daughter. I had a habit of rescuing animals as well.

Our son decided he looked like a “Pepper”.

Our then 7 year old Sunshine came over to me and had to see what was in my lap. One look at this moving creature and she fell in love.

She started kissing him and talking away at us and him! She literally scooped him out of my lap by his nape-the way any animal mom would and took him over to her bed and began giving him a bath.

Pepper looked up at her and a lifetime relationship was sealed. Sunshine took over making sure he behaved, used his litter box (more on slip ups here in a bit) and that no one disciplined this little baby except for her.

Not that this new addition didn’t have its difficult moments. Until Sunshine got him to realize the importance of using his litter boxes I came home to some very messy homecomings.

Once, I walked into my living room to find that Pepper had used the leather sofas as a place for his “leftovers” of life. That was the worst-happened twice. On the second time, I told our daughter that as much as I thought he was the cutest little guy-I wasn’t up to going through this rigmarole again in my lifetime and we’d need to find him a better home or a non-kill shelter.

No such luck-no available foster care and no one wanted a damaged kitten. Plus, Sunshine thought of him as her personal child and would’ve been heartbroken beyond repair.

Pepper-smart enough to know he had a good home never had another accident.

Not a one. As Sunshine aged, he was content to sit next to her and watch over her. His deformed front paws have never caused any problems-he climbs walls quite well. He’s given us immeasurable amount of joy.

Pepper would watch Sunshine use the yard and run around and hitting himself into all the windows along the way until I opened the door for her to come in. At this point he’d have sat down just out of sight near the washing machine and run after her and giving her “jumping hugs” all the way into a play session.

Every night at about 7-the two would have a game of tag going through the bottom half of the house for about a good 20 minutes. That lasted until Sunshine got too old to play.

He loves to chase after wadded up pieces of paper-he’s better as playing fetch than Sunshine ever was, especially in the middle of the night. When our son and daughter-in-law to be brought home their Maine Coon-Pepper took on the role of dad and showed Toby the ropes about what would and would not be tolerated.

When Sunshine became too old to come upstairs and do her “job” of waking us up in the morning-Pepper took over this position. Yep, every morning at 7:30, Pepper starts undoing himself from the cocoon he’s made of my armpit and starts pulling my hair. He moves from that action to knocking things off of my husband’s nightstand-ensuring that someone will get out of bed.

He took Sunshine’s passing extremely hard-crying and searching for weeks. He still smells her spots and cries in his sleep.

We love that little guy. And as for the story of his arrival-all of it was true, except for one thing: he was NOT found in a tree and Sarah spent $25 on assuring his spot in the Nadel household.

Thank you Sarah from the bottom of all our hearts.  

Enjoy Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 10 | community, schafer, breakfast - News - The Orange County Register

Enjoy Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 10 | community, schafer, breakfast - News - The Orange County Register

Here in my neck of the woods-we're inviting Santa to breakfast!  

Soka U's Performing Arts Ctr

Check out my story in this month's OC Jewish Life magazine on Soka U's new performing arts center:

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