My Iris Story…

With the quietest of whispers, in just a moment, she was gone. A scruffy, cuddly, ball of energy named Iris with a piercing bark which either announced her presence, demanded attention, or a treat. Oh, those treats! Liverwurst was her absolute favorite, given her mixed Schnauzer/Sheltie German heritage. When she came to visit throughout the pandemic incarceration period, she would sit in front of the refrigerator and bring forth her best, most dramatic, little whine. She had a distinct vocal range with a mix of very low growls, subdued chirping, dramatic whining and, of course, her all out, glass-breaking-nails-on-a-blackboard, barking. She was…unique. Then again, what pet isn’t?

Iris died quite suddenly in August of last year, not long after this photo was taken of her, sitting patiently in her dog stroller. Long walks in the country weren’t a favorite for this short little lady, she was always happy to sit back and enjoy a scenic ride with someone doing the pushing. Refreshments and treats were close by.

Our daughter was her favorite, her rescuer and her owner, but, no one really “owns” a pet, do they? In fact, it’s completely the other way around, pets rule our lives and our hearts. At least that’s how it should be. Whenever Iris had the opportunity, she’d hop in Jill’s front seat to ride shotgun, almost defiantly at times. She was so tolerant of being photographed and being dressed in various costumes, depending on the season or holiday. Speaking of holidays, I used to play a song from “The Singing Dogs” each Christmas and, very much to my family’s dismay, taught Iris to bark along with their version of Jingle Bells which she was always delighted to do; liverwurst was the encouragement, of course.

Iris made us happy, asking for little except love and attention. She showed her love with the wag of her tail and her happy, sometimes annoying, piercing bark. She was part of our family and we were all so much better for having her share her life with us.

From Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop… Throwback Thursday: Choose a photo from a previous August and write a poem or a blog post.


So long, Mr. Chip…



Huge drifts of snow blanketed the deck, the air outside was bitterly cold and the wind found a way to force its icy fingers into my home.   I shivered when I heard the voice on the kitchen radio advise parents to bundle-up the kids before sending them out to wait for the school bus.  An arctic freeze, he called it, not fit for man nor beast.  It was one of the coldest Northeast winters in several years.


Looking out the back door, I noticed little footprints that told me some creature managed to plod its way through the frozen tundra and seek shelter under the covered patio furniture.  Curious, I grabbed my jacket and headed out to look but didn’t get far.  Within seconds, a large tabby cat frantically ran by me, making his way through the snow like a downhill skier.  Peeking under the table, I saw that he had been making himself a comfy spot on one of the chairs, a safe place from the bitter weather and predators who roamed the nearby woods.

Quickly, I went back inside and gathered up blankets to provide more warmth for when he returned.  Within minutes, my hands were getting numb from the cold and I hurried to make a suitable bed, hoping that I hadn’t permanently scared the cat away.  I decided to leave a bowl of dry food, along with some water, during the daytime in case he returned, sure that he was somewhere watching, from a safe distance.


He was. 


Soon after I went back inside I looked out the window and saw him peeking at the top of the deck stairs; he made a bee-line under the table and I could see him almost inhaling the food that I set out.   A new friendship was made and our cautious deck-dweller was given the name of “Chip”, something we thought our spoiled inside cat, Dale, would appreciate.

Chip seemed to enjoy his surroundings and made it through the winter without incident.  As the snow melted, he would sit by the kitchen door and emit a Siamese-type cat meow.  He was chubby, his fur badly matted, and remained very skittish until…our inside cat came by the door.  I anticipated hissing, growling and other feline disagreements but Chip rubbed against the screen and just meowed while Dale gave a whatever-look and walked away. This activity went on daily and when Spring arrived, Dale managed to get outside and I feared the worst between the two males.  As I watched, the two acknowledged each other and headed off to explore the backyard kingdom.   Eventually, I managed to coax Chip inside on a stormy day and he and Dale became inseparable, both coming whenever they were called, eating, sleeping and begging at the dinner table…together.

This all came to pass back in 2009.   Today I sat and thought back to how we labeled Chip & Dale our Odd Couple; Dale, neat and clean,  much like Felix Unger and…Chip, rough around the edges, so like Oscar Madison.  As his confidence grew, I managed to give Chip a little grooming and he came to trust us all enough to sleep on the bed with enough room to escape if he felt threatened.   Life took a good turn for him and there were days that I swore he looked up at me with gratitude, allowing me to gently rub his head before he scooted away.

Earlier this year, Chip started losing weight.  At first my hubby thought it was because I had brushed so much of his matted fur away over time.  His appetite was normal, for a semi-feral cat still adapting to having regular meals that didn’t have a tail on them.   Chip seemed to be drinking more water than usual and we passed that off to our very hot summer this year.  In July, my daughter Jill set up an appointment with her Veterinarian and we managed to grab Chip and get him in a carrier for the trip.  Tests were run and showed that he was Diabetic; he returned home with a supply of insulin, syringes,  specialized cat food and a bad attitude.

Caring for a completely domesticated animal is relatively easy compared to cornering a terrified, moderately wild cat to administer injections twice daily.  At first it went smoothly but Chip became wise to the procedure and hid wherever he could.  No animal can understand a human trying to help them survive and I questioned his quality of life in feeling so stressed by my chasing him around the house.

Last week-end, Chip suffered a diabetic episode and with my daughter’s help, we got him through it, even managing to give him his insulin.  Early this past Monday morning, he took a turn for the worse with his best buddy Dale sitting by his side.  I decided not to let him suffer further. 

He’s back home with us now, under a big tree, resting with other members of our fur family.  Dale keeps looking under the bed and out the window,  he glances over at Chip’s feeding bowl but hasn’t gone near it to nibble.   I think, in some animal way, Dale is grieving for his friend.

So are we.


Dale (on the left) and Chip. The Odd (Cat) Couple.