I headed to my parents house directly from the pound since they lived in the San Fernando Valley, a hop skip and jump from the West Valley Animal Shelter. Blondie threw up immediately in my car on the ride home.
“Don’t ask me to make her poached eggs on toast,” Mary said jokingly. That's what Mary always made me when I felt sick. We both laughed at my new dog's apparent stomach issue, which matched mine. I had always been prone to stomach aches which lead to major episodes of throwing up for hours on end. My mom said I inherited the “McGill family stomach.” As I got older and wiser, I realized that whenever I was going through something emotional, I would feel it in my gut. I also suffered from terrible motion sickness when I was young, so I could totally relate to my “new dog” already.
Bringing Blondie to meet my parents the same afternoon I got her from the pound might not have been the best idea. I wasn't feeling steady yet about my decision to rescue her. Mom wasn’t happy to see me with this strange dog, jumping to the conclusion that I was bringing home another stray and leaving it for her and my father to look after.
“What’s that?” Mom asked, pointing at Blondie with her face all squished up, adding wrinkles to her already worn complexion.
“I’m taking care of her for a friend,” I said in my most convincing voice, avoiding her gaze.I had never been a very good at telling lies. Even little white lies did not come easily for me.
Sitting down across from her on my dad’s red leather recliner, I noticed dust bunnies playing in a streak of sunlight coming through the window shade. Mom kept the shades drawn even in the daytime because she hated the possibility of neighbors or strangers peering inside her home. Blondie lay next to me. We were already attached at the hip.
“Well, we don’t need any more pets around here,” mom informed me. “That cat you got us is enough. He keeps biting and scratching us.” Mom held out her arm and showed me the gashes.
“Oh my God,” I exclaimed. “Let me find Terry a new home. You can’t let a cat do that to you.”
“No! We love Terry. He’s a real character. Your father buys him fresh turkey; he’ll only eat it if it’s fresh. And he talks to us, watch. Hello Terry.”
Right on cue, the beast entered the room and let out a low guttural growl, swatting at my mom as he moved slowly toward her. With his tail held high at attention, he began staring down Blondie, who quickly jumped behind my chair. It was hard to imagine this large gray cat with his black stripes and big belly as the cute and cuddly kitten he was when I first found him roaming the streets in my Beverly Hills neighborhood. Terry jumped up on the couch and seated himself on the armrest next to my mom. Mom moved over to add more distance between herself and Terry.
“Isn’t he adorable?”
I wasn’t in love with the cat I had rescued the previous year, but I was already in love with the mutt I had just brought home from the pound. After denying ownership for a couple weeks, I finally told my Mom and Dad the truth. They didn’t think it was a good idea for me to own a pet. According to them, I could barely take care of myself, even though I had a full-time job and was completely paying my own way. But no matter what they said, I knew that saving this dog was a form of self-preservation. I finally had someone to love who would love me back unconditionally.