In the beginning, when God created the world and all it contained, he saw that it was good. He made the animal kingdom, the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air. Then God blessed man and told him, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it.” He gave man dominion over all of it, from the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the cattle, all the earth, to every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
These things were made for the benefit of man, for his use and his food. I wonder, though, if God didn’t create the animal world for our enjoyment also. When we see some of these animals, it seems that he must have a sense of humor. Animals are fascinating, and it would be an empty and lonely world without them.
Farm animals have been a part of our lives as long as I can remember. We always had dogs, cats that come and go. As the children grew up and departed the nest for homes of their own, our pet menagerie dwindled. For several years, all we owned were a couple of dogs and an occasional cat. This spring, we decided to buy day-old chicks and raise laying hens for our own eggs. Ratty Rooster is another story. From the very beginning, he appealed to me — a tiny ball of yellow fluff with beady eyes and a couple of crooked toes. I carried him around in my pocket when I was outside, and soon, he came running across the box to greet me.
After we took the other five roosters away, the pullets turned on Ratty and made his life miserable. We had to remove him from the chicken house and let him run free in the yard. Naturally, he had bonded with me and dogged (roostered?) my footsteps. The little grandkids are scared of him, and give him a wide berth. (Criss says never pet a rooster or a bull!)
He sleeps in a pet carrier at night and waits for me to come to the porch at morning to crumble him a biscuit — he crows loudly until I do. We tried putting him back with the pullets a time or two, but he steps on their heads and they immediately begin pulling out his feathers. He has a classic case of gender (or is it species?) confusion — he’s not sure if he is a person, or if I am a chicken. He scratches and calls to me to join him in a nice worm or a blade of grass. I just can’t.
Andy got Taylor and Nicholas, a pair of tiny banties, and Jennifer asked if she could borrow the pet carrier. She came down after it, and as she was carrying it through the yard, I heard her yelling. Ratty Rooster was after her like a hen on a junebug, with feathers flounced and murder in his eye. “Get him off me,” she hollered. When I could quit laughing, I told her, “Jennifer, you’ve got his bed!”
This has been an education for the great-grands, whose only relationship with eggs came in those plastic cartons from the supermarket. Three-year-old Bekah came in the house and saw the wire basket of fresh eggs. “Hey, wook at them wooster eggs!” she exclaimed. (She’s the same one who said, “Hey, Mom-Gwanny, come wook at this wittle baby a’gwinnin’ at Mommaw!”)
We’re not the only ones who have odd pets. My sister Mary Ellen once had a cat that rang the doorbell. It was an accident the first time; then, after the first flush of success, it became routine. It would climb up the bricks and press the doorbell with its paw until Mary Ellen opened the door.
I remember Gus, the part-dachshund dog they had years ago. He was a little spoiled, to say the least. Whenever Mary Ellen would give the cat a treat, Gus would run in and smell the cat’s breath to see what goody she had eaten. Then Gus wanted his.
Floretta Williams of Charleston spends a lot of time outdoors working in her plants, and she became aware of a baby mockingbird that was following her every step. She gave her a few breadcrumbs to keep her busy so she wouldn’t step on her. In time, she became known as “Mary Beth” and loved the birdseed brought over by a kind neighbor.
Mrs. Williams said it took a lot of her time tending to Mary Beth as she would carefully crack each seed, and when some would flip on her lap, the bird would hop right up there to retrieve every bite.
Imagine her tears when the bird didn’t show up for a week, and Mrs. Williams found a little pile of feathers where a cat had gotten her.
Heartache goes along with loving, but it is worth it. There will always be a special relationship between humans and animals.
Cousin Alyce Faye
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