I was raised without family pets. I left home for the first time at 18 and went to Indiana University, studying in the theater department. In my junior year, I took a course in voice and diction, and the professor of the course showed up one afternoon with a new litter of kittens.
I was so excited, I ran to the front of the room to stand in line to adopt one of the free kittens, because it was my first pet and a mark of independence over my old life.
I took one look at a most adorable feline, snatched her up and named her Emily. Needless to say, at that age and being at college with all of my running around, I paid very little attention to my cat. (It was my junior year and I was living off campus in a place that allowed pets.)
Oscar the dog with Sam the cat last week.
After I picked her up and she scratched me, I promptly had her de-clawed, which some people seem to think is cruel, but it never seemed to bother Emily.
Fast-forward 20 years later, and I wound up living with Herman and my first dog, Moxie, and another cat, my precious Sam, who is still alive today, going on 18. He gets around great for his age - still running and jumping and playing tag with 10-year-old Sally, a black-and-white female we got as a kitten and who now outweighs Sam by about 8 pounds.
Sally was at the Johnstown Animal Hospital with this tag:
"Six little kittens,
one with white mittens,
left all alone,
please take me home."
That was all I had to see, and when Moxie shoved her nose in the little kitten's cage and Sally stood her ground and swatted Moxie, I knew she had the personality for me.
Sadly, Moxie passed away last year after a good long life at the age of 17, which I understand is a ripe old age for a purebred Dalmatian.
We got a new miniature Doberman Pincer/Decker rat terrier a year and a half ago as a puppy, and I named him Oscar, for the statue I never got a crack at because I had to leave acting when I contracted multiple sclerosis.
It took a while for the old codger, Sam, to get used to the energetic new puppy, but as you can see his photo, taken Wednesday, they are now buddies, very comfortable in each other's space.
Kathryn Spira, a native ofCleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now writes from her home in Caroga Lake. Her past columns and contact information can be found online at her website, www.kathrynskorner.com.