Joyce Minor

Remembering the Minor Menagerie

Many writers have contemplated why we Americans are so attached to our pets. I think very often it’s the humor pets inject into our lives that truly endears them to us.

While we raised our three children, many pets were also part of the Minor household. First we had fish, but then we got a cat, Hopper, who thought the fish were food. He would jump on top of the aquarium and tirelessly swipe at the fish through the glass, never understanding why he couldn’t get them. Eventually he’d fall off headfirst and start all over again.

Hopper also had a habit of jumping on our bed at 5:30 every morning to lie on John’s chest nose to nose. Purring even louder than John’s snoring, Hopper was the only alarm clock we ever needed.

One day I brought home a companion for Hopper — a tiny calico kitten. Callie was a bouncing ball of fur and absolutely fearless. She would walk along the stairway banister two stories up with our kids all yelling for Daddy to rescue her. John just laughed knowing she was fine and would come down when she was ready.

One day Calli got out of the house and somehow managed to climb a towering tree in our back yard. Again, the kids screamed for Daddy to rescue her. This time she would not come down. She stayed aloft yowling pitifully all night.

The next day, John gave in and borrowed a neighbor’s extension ladder to venture up the tree toward Calli. I couldn’t even watch. When he finally got almost to the cat she took one giant leap, landed on John’s back, and dug in her claws using him as a launching pad to nearly fly down the tree trunk into Erin’s arms. John gingerly climbed down to find the neighbor howling with laughter, “I told you, nobody has ever found a cat skeleton in a tree.”

When Callie was full grown she was enormous — 22 pounds. Despite that she was still an avid climber. She especially liked to stretch out on top of the television where she would fall asleep with her tail hanging down across the screen. One day, while deeply asleep, Callie gradually rolled off the TV and hit the carpet. Totally stunned, she shrieked and shot across the room while the kids howled with laughter.

Callie also liked to catch mice in our basement, always bringing her trophies upstairs to proudly drop at my feet. One day she brought a mouse that wasn’t quite dead. When she dropped it her prize streaked across the floor and under the refrigerator. The kids laughed as Hopper came running to fish under the fridge with his paws. After a while he gave up and went to get a drink. That’s when the mouse made a dashing get away, directly between Hopper’s legs. Water sprayed everywhere as Hopper’s head followed the mouse and his body did a total mid-air flip. The whole family fell apart laughing

A few years later a gray tabby named Sidney joined our family. He was sweet but dumber than a stump. The kids loved to watch him stalk birds swoop to a landing outside our dining room window. Sidney would crouch on the other side of the room twitching his tail. Finally he’d take off toward the window and smack head first into the glass. An hour later he’d do the same thing again. He never learned.

You might say, in the Minor household, the livestock were more like the laughing stock. Next week, two dogs, a lizard, and several hamsters join in the antics.