This morning, as I try to figure out what I can write about, I’ve decided that it would be fun to tell you a little about a subject I’ve been trying to work on for quite some time. As most everyone knows, for Jim and me, our family is the main focus of our world. Many of you know our daughters and son, our grandchildren and even our great-grandkids. Each of them have their own homes and live their various, busy lives in ways that make us proud. Since we have been “empty-nesters” for some time now, we’ve turned more and more to our “furry kids” to help fill our lives. Unfortunately, their lifespans aren’t long enough. Each time we have had to say goodbye to any of them, it has been heartbreaking. Each one is special and as much a part of our family in their own time and place as our human kids. I’d like to introduce three of our current ones to you today.

We’ve had Jo-Jo the longest ... I usually just call him Joey. His mama and another female cat were dumped at our store over 14 years ago. Both were pregnant, so we caught them and kept them in the old tavern building where they delivered and raised their kittens. We took the mamas in to have them spayed after the kittens were weaned and found homes for them all. Jo-Jo came home with us.

Jo-Jo

We adopted Toby from a rescue in San Diego. He’s a small blue heeler with a big attitude. He arrived in Eugene in a crowded dog carrier sitting precariously at the very back of an enclosed van where he had been for the two-day trip. He was scared and very quiet on that morning as he was unloaded from that van. I was very quiet, too, and I remember my eyes were red and swollen, for, very early that same morning, I had returned from the vet’s office where I had been forced to say goodbye to my beautiful, sweet shortie dog who was to be Toby’s brother. We had not planned it that way ... it just happened. So, Toby and I immediately bonded in our fright and sorrow.

Toby

BB came into our lives as part of a local rescue. His mother and litter of puppies had been found running down Siuslaw River Road. We found the owners and they willingly turned the puppies over to a nearby rescue group. We fell in love with BB and he, Toby and Joey have become “brothers.” We have two other female feline members of the family, but I’ll have to tell about Oreo and Xena another time.

BB

Toby, BB and Joey are quite the challenging group. Each one is very possessive of me, especially. They love Jim, too, but Toby has set himself up as my protector and he would like to keep others (people and animals) away from me whenever possible. BB, who looks like a black Irish Setter with brindle accents, is usually submissive, but wants, and sometimes demands, his attention, too. And, the older Joey gets, the more determined he is to not be left out when he feels attention is needed ... which is often.

One morning I was sitting at the breakfast table reading the paper and all three were gathered around. They don’t beg for food ... they each just want to be the ones getting the attention on each side of my chair. All of a sudden, BB and Toby got into one of their very rare fights. It sounded real, but they’ve never hurt each other in any way. I got up to break it up when all of a sudden there was a flying hairball with clawed feet splayed out, pouncing on top of the melee. Joey had had enough of their childishness and decided to end the fight himself. Toby, whose back was blanketed by a very angry cat, yelped and disengaged from BB. I grabbed Joey and threw him outside so the dogs wouldn’t turn on him, and told the other two “kids” to stop it immediately.

They soon settled down and when I let Joey back in the house, he immediately walked over to Toby and nuzzled up against him. Toby, in turn licked Joey’s ear tenderly.

It reminds me of what it was like raising our own kids so long ago. Being family has always meant we love each other, but arguments and fights are inevitable. It’s OK — and expected — to fight amongst ourselves, but if you really want to feel the fangs, just let someone from outside the family circle hurt one of us. I love it! If only we could all be one big family!

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