Monday, April 16, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

Recently my dog Leonardo, who was the subject of my Nov. 2011 blog on senior pets, passed away. Though I miss him, I know he's having fun in Doggie Heaven with no achy joints to slow him down. But this is not a sad blog, I promise. To mangle a famous line from Shakespeare, I come not to mourn Leo but to celebrate his life.
I adopted him when he was six months old from a local Humane Society. Though our family had a dog when I was younger, he was the first dog I ever owned by myself. We both had a lot to learn! He was a pretty big boy, in spite of still being a puppy. He also loved to chew! Leonardo was responsible for the demise of a sofa, two armchairs and a dining room set. Not to mention innumerable chew toys.

He could be naughty. He liked to play "keep away" and would steal things hoping I'd chase him to get them back. I know chasing him only encouraged the behavior, but when I tried the opposite tack and ignored him, he'd nose me as though to say "See how bad I am?" When we went for walks, he'd start squalling if he saw another dog, a cat or even a squirrel. The neighbors did not appreciate the commotion and we weren't too popular for quite some time. Eventually he settled down—it only took twelve years! The same people who used to frown when we walked down the sidewalk began to smile and tell me what a "good dog" he was.

Leo didn't leave me all alone—there are other animal friends who share my home. I adopted my dog Iris from a local shelter. Too many pit bull terriers languish in our shelters because the breed is so misunderstood. Iris was one of them. When I first saw her, her ribs showed through her skin. The attendant felt it was because she was depressed—she'd been in the shelter too long. Well, Miss Iris is no longer underweight. She gained ten pounds in one year and she's now on the verge of becoming "pleasingly plump."

Several cat friends also live with me. Snickers was a homeless cat prowling the neighborhood, subsisting on bread and peanut butter neighbors left out for the squirrels. I began feeding her and she soon became part of my family. She's now downright chubby. I think her hungry time on the streets has transformed into a chow hound.

I found Topaz when out driving one evening. A tiny critter dashed in front of my car and it didn't look like a rabbit or a skunk. I pulled over and sure enough, a little kitten was huddled at the side of the road. She was frightened, but also hungry and luckily I had a bag of cat food in my car. I used the food to distract her and managed to catch her in my hat (yes, really!). She's been with me several years now.

I've gotten to the end of this blog and haven't said a word about writing. Well, some of the true-life antics of my pets have worked their way into my stories. My upcoming book "Her Perfect Man" features a very bossy cat named Groucho.

In memory of Leonardo I am offering a ten dollar gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press to a random commenter. Please leave a comment about one of your animal friends. If you're a writer, have any of your pets worked their way into your stories?  Don't forget to leave your email addy so I can send the certificate if you're the lucky winner!
And don't forget to give your pet an extra hug today!

To learn more about Nona and her books, please visit

To purchase Nona's books from The Wild Rose Press go here


Toni Lynn said...

We adopted our cat from the sheltor as well. When we brought her home, she would hide all the time.

Now she greets us at the door like a dog would. Too cute. She is the queen of our house..and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Nona Raines said...

Thanks for stopping by, Toni. Isn't it funny how our pets turn into the bosses of the house? Your cat sounds adorable. Cats have a standoffish reputation, but I've know plenty who are just as friendly as dogs!

Katherine said...

What a great tribute to Leo. I lost my cat two years ago this month to heart failure. He lived to the ripe old age of 19. He showed up on our doorstep little more than a kitten during a terrible rainstorm. We took him in, dried him off, and gave him some tuna. We put an ad in the newspaper that we'd found a cat, no one claimed him so from that day on, he became my shadow following me everywhere I went around the house. While I still miss him every day, I take comfort in the fact that he adopted me as much as I had adopted him.

Nona Raines said...

Hi Katherine, your cat lived to a ripe old age. Cats are so smart--he knew yours was the right doorstep to turn up on! I love picturing him as your "shadow". Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

Amy S. said...

We have a dog and a cat. The cat's name is Kitty Perry and she just had some kittens. Our dog's name is Bear and he is a poodle dog. We bought the Bear but Kitty Perry is a stray that took up here.

amysmith98 @

Nona Raines said...

Hi Amy, I love the name Kitty Perry. It sounds like she brought a "surprise" with her when she arrived at your house. Enjoy those kittens--baby animals are so much fun. I like poodles, but I'm not crazy about the poofy haircuts that seems to be the style for them. I think I read somewhere that poodles are extremely intelligent. Thanks for commenting!

Susan Macatee said...

We had to say goodbye to our first dog, a boxer named Kelly. She was eight when she developed hip dysplasia and had to be put down. A year and half later, our son's friend was unable to keep a puppy he'd adopted. He was a boxer pitbull mix and looked a lot like Kelly. We adopted him and named him Chase. He's now two and a big, hulking 85 pounds. But he's a real sweetie and a very well behaved dog. Doesn't get into much trouble at all, but I think he gets worn out playing with his doggie friends in the dog park.

Nona Raines said...

Hi Susan, Chase was lucky you found him! Sounds like your big boy looks like a toughie but has a marshmallow heart. I love pit bulls, they are such sweeties and have gotten such a bad rap. Thanks for stopping by!

Taryn Elliott said...

Aww. I love dog/pet stories. I'm such a sucker for them in stories too. My first release has a huge mutt of a dog named Stella who is Miranda's very best friend through the book.

I've got one of my own...Stu. I don't know what I'd do without him. He's so freaking happy to see me all the time.

It's so awesome that you took in the pit bull. They are awesome animals, too bad they have such a bad rap.

Nona Raines said...

Hi Taryn, I love stories that include animals. Their personalities add a lot and they also reveal a lot about the human characters, too. Stu sounds like a great dog. Our pets show us so much love, no matter how bad a day is, they can always brighten it up! Thanks so much for commenting!

Nona Raines said...

Congratulations, Amy! You're the winner of the ten dollar WRP gift card! I will get that to you directly.

Thanks everyone for your comments!