For those of you who might be regular readers of my column, you may remember that I have mentioned before how it is sometimes difficult to choose the topic for the week. This was one of those weeks.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
For those of you who might be regular readers of my column, you may remember that I have mentioned before how it is sometimes difficult to choose the topic for the week. This was one of those weeks.
I sat down this morning to try to choose a topic so that I could meet my deadline to Liz, and I happened to be sitting with my granddaughter Ava at the time. I mentioned to her that I had to meet my newspaper deadline this morning, and that she would just have to sit quietly watching her cartoons while Nana finished writing.
Ava asked me what I was writing about and I told her I had absolutely no clue. She told me that I should write about my cats (she's an animal lover like her Nana). I told her I've done that in various ways over the last two years, and she said it doesn't matter...that EVERYONE wants to know who lives here! Out of the mouths of babes...
So, I'm following my 4-year-old beauty's direction! Ava is the director and Nana is the writer on the laptop. Ready, set...action!
Life at Baughman Street White House. Where do I start? I ask for some motivation from the director, and she tells me that all I need to do is write about each one of our pets. "It's simple, Nana!!" Maybe I need to put this little girly at the laptop and have HER do the writing! Ya know - if she could type, I bet she could write this column. This girl thinks she can do EVERYTHING!! And, ALL BY HERSELF, TOO.
Now that I have my motivation, my laptop and a little quiet (as if anything in a 4-year-old's world is quiet HA!), I think I will keep it very simple - just like she said.
First, I will start with Ava's dog, my granddog. Most of you know I am first and foremost a cat lover. Having and loving cats have been part of my life since I was as young as I can remember...and even before.
It was a rare thing in my life that a dog was part of it. When I was just two years old, though, I had a golden retriever named Goldie, a duck named Doodles (that my mom told me laid one egg a day for me!), and cats named Inky and Smokey. Believe it or not, I vaguely remember my dog and my duck (Mom told me that they dearly loved me, and I have pictures to prove it).
Thinking back, with only being 2 years old, I'm not sure if the memories are real or if they just come from seeing pictures and hearing my mom talk about the pets I had. But, sad to say, a very unfortunate thing happened one day when I was 2 or 3 years old, and it may be a reason why dogs just were not part of my life after. One day, Goldie decided that Doodles would make a good lunch - it was tragic. Mom said I saw the whole horrible event as mom tried to prevent the inevitable.
Ava is now telling me, "It's time to talk about the cats and the dog we have NOW, Nana!" "Yes mam," an exasperated Nana replies. So, the story of Dre.
Dre now lives in my home - where no dog has lived since I was a teenager. When I was growing up here, we had a family dog named Rusty, and she was a car chasin', skunk huntin' neighborhood tramp who loved to bat her beautiful brown eyes at the neighbors - pleading for a few scraps because she was so neglected. At least that was HER point of view. You have to keep in mind that 40 years ago it was the norm to allow your pets to roam the streets and come home when it was mealtime and bedtime. Rusty was well known over! A first name basis with a dog catcher, too!!!
So now Dre lives here - in my little "zoo.” A dog in my life. A 15-year-old lab/chow. A dog that needs walked, that needs a big bowl of water and endless supply of dog food. A dog that sleeps, and sleeps, and eats and sleeps. It has been quite an adjustment to living with a dog, I will be honest. But, Dre has always loved me best of all. When he would come to visit, he always came to me and listened to me - and I'm not really a dog lover!! It never made sense, but he always gravitated to me for some reason. Now, he follows me from upstairs to downstairs. He lays at my feet wherever I am. If there are several people in the room, he looks to me for everything. He has made himself at home as if this were his home, always. Darn rascal though - he has licked three small holes in my living room carpet! But, carpet can be replaced.
Dre is just part of my life as he's always been - but more. And more is just fine with me. There will come a day when more will be no more, and that day will be as sad as it gets. I hope to be at his side when that day comes. He deserves that.
Then there are sisters Sadie and Maggie - 2 years old and as different as night and day. Three years ago, I wanted to increase the numbers here in the "zoo.” I really wanted a calico to rescue, but it is challenging to find a calico. I put the word out on Facebook, but it took me almost a year to find exactly what I was looking for. Someone responded to my post a year later saying that he had two sisters he found and could not keep.
The kittens had been hanging around his house and he was feeding them outside, but could not let them inside because he had two big dogs. If he did not find a home for them, he was going to have to see if a shelter would take them. I asked him to send me a picture, and well - the rest is history.
As soon as I saw their pictures, I was hooked. Maggie was the beautiful calico, and her sister Sadie was a gorgeous tortoiseshell - long-haired, too. It's not as if I have to have beautiful cats, but when these two kittens had no home, I just had to adopt them.
Maggie is still the most lovely cat in my "zoo.” She has the most perfect markings of white, orange, tan and black. She purrs the loudest of any of my pets, but she is very particular...even a little on the snooty side. She adores attention - but ONLY when she ask for it. Then, and only then, you must stop whatever you're doing and pet her and tell her all about how beautiful she is.
She has the biggest saucer eyes you've ever seen, and her facial markings are so symmetric. In fact, when you look at her from the front when she is sitting, she looks like a tuxedo cat, with one orange and white leg and one solid black leg. On a separate note, Maggie is my Leo's "girlfriend" LOL. All of my household pets are neutered or spayed, but Leo and Nacho did not get the memo.
Sadie is my lovable cat. She is the smallest cat in the house, unlike her sister, she has the most exquisite tortoiseshell markings. She is black, brown, orange, tan - with a splash of white under her chin. She loves everyone - family and strangers alike. She's also a crybaby. When she is hungry in the morning, for example, she will meow until you want to scream! If you don't get up and fix her breakfast exactly when she wants it, she will drive you nuts! She wants everything now - whether it's food, human food when it is delivered from a local restaurant, or whether it's attention. She's very needy, and the poor thing needs everything...NOW. She has no patience, no tolerance, and another cat in the house named Nacho is relentless to "make friends" - ALL OF THE TIME!! And how do we know it is all of the time? Sadie screams and cries like a wolf is tearing her apart.
Now, let's talk about Nacho Bidness (don't blame me...I didn't name him LOL). Nacho is in his prime teenage years. He is frisky, LOVES his Sadie, and runs around the house in the dark hours of the night - doing who knows what! The morning will tell that story. Nacho is a great big orange ball of fluff, and very soon he will be heading to the groomer for a lion's cut. He is so furry, and he is starting to get his spring coat and he's got some matted fur due to his grooming. Maybe that will settle this little boy down!
But when he's not so feisty, he is as lovable as any cat I have had. He loves to get up on my chest and snuggle under my chin, and he will let me pet him until he says THAT'S ENOUGH! And then, he has decided to go find Sadie. Poor Sadie...soon, we will hear the tale.
My Leo - the most docile cat in the house. I have been his favorite person since he was rescued after a scary thunderstorm in Frostburg about five years ago. Like Nacho, Leo is a big orange tabby, with the fluffiest tail and the biggest golden green eyes. His favorite place to be is on my lap, on my chest or in bed with me. However, after the rescue of Old Fella, Leo sleeping with me is very limited. Old Fella has that privilege LOL.
Leo decided two years ago that Maggie was the perfect girl for him! It didn't take long for Leo to discover that this little girl was it...beauty and charm beyond imagination. It wasn't long until Maggie found that Leo was her soulmate. It really is very funny and very sweet to see how they love each other. When the Christmas tree is up, Leo and Maggie snuggle underneath the lights. They sometimes will get in the rocking chair together and get into some of the strangest sleeping positions you ever saw. Leo can be sound sleep on his back with his legs sprawled out, in his favorite spot in front of the fireplace, and if Maggie is in the mood for love, she will come over and rub her head against his. He wakes up and starts grooming her. So, there is love in the "zoo"...and teenage angst with Nacho and Sadie!
The best rescue story is last...saving the best for last. Old Fella - an 18-year-old silver grey long-haired old man - now living the life of luxury after years living on the streets of south Cumberland. The rescue story can be read in more detail on his own Facebook page called Old Fella.
It is an extraordinary story of sickness, hunger and thirst, loneliness and the kindness of strangers. It is his story - one that hundreds and hundreds of people will never forget. And now, he lives in a "zoo"...my "zoo.” He has everything he needs here - salmon flavored treats, his medications that he will need to take for life for his heart and thyroid issues, a house full of other animals, his favorite foods and his favorite people. He has it all.
Old Fella has his quirks, too. He will have absolutely nothing to do with me throughout the day. He roams through the house, choosing his favorite places to sit or snooze. He loves the living room window, where he sits and watches the outdoors. He loves the bookshelf downstairs and the rec room couch. He finds solace for an afternoon nap on the top of the living room couch, and on occasion, he will head out to the kitchen to see if there's anything good in the food bowl.
Although, O.F. ignores me throughout the day no matter how many times I attempt to make conversation or pet him, bedtime is our time. He was rescued in July and spent several stints inpatient at the hospital addressing his ailments from living outdoors. When he finally settled in here, he chose to eat and sleep in my bedroom. He has a nightly routine that he follows very seriously. He eats a little, uses his litter box and then comes to bed - taking his place on his blankie that was given to him by Sharon Herriott, right by my pillow. Now, it becomes my turn, when he allows me the privilege to take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes scratching his long ears and rubbing his head and the back of his neck. This has been his life since last July, and the nightly routine is fascinating. It never varies. There is no way I can come to bed and fall right to sleep, though. I've tried it several times when I've just been dead tired. No way. This old boy of mine will continue to bump me and tell me, "Come on Mum, you know what you need to do!"
So I rub, I scratch and I pet his soft silvery fur coat - and I whisper sweet things to my fella. He lets me know when he's done and when it's enough. He moves a little and gets himself comfortable, and then he's out for the night.
His rescue, his story and his life have blessed me and my "zoo.” When he came into my life, it was a time when I needed him most. I had a rough July last year, and taking in this cat and involving the community in his rescue and saving his life - God was so good to me and to Old Fella. God also blessed me with so many new friends - people who love the story of O.F. and who attend special events where my cat is the guest of honor.
I have chosen July 22 as Old Fella's birthday because that is the day I first learned about this old cat who needed a new life. Yes, there will be a birthday party to celebrate his 19th birthday. And yes, to the naysayers who think it is the silliest thing of all to celebrate a pet's birthday - people will come. People I have grown to love and respect just because they are people who believe that animals deserve a life - a happy life, a simple life.
May God bless each one of you who reads my column, and let us give thanks to God for bringing us out of the clutches of winter's cold and snow and into the grace of new life in the spring.