By Lynda Hollenbeck
A few days ago we buried Black Beauty, the cat (black, of course) that was part of the Hollenbeck household for something close to 20 years.
His passing left a big hole in my heart, but I cherish the two decades of love he gave to our family.
I don’t remember exactly when he crossed the threshold and became “our” cat. For a long time, he made regular visits to the outdoor feeding dish early in the morning and late in the evening and didn’t seek attention beyond that.
Then at some point, he apparently decided our home was a pretty good place to be and “adopted” us, particularly my husband.
I was the one feeding him from the start, but he was Ed’s cat the minute he entered the house.
For the final years of Ed’s life, Black Beauty’s regular resting spot was the top of Ed’s recliner. The two had a special bond.
Like many animals that become fully entrenched into the routines of a household, Black Beauty developed one habit that at times was annoying, but he was so sweet otherwise that I allowed it.
At 10 minutes till 4 — every morning of every day of every week of every year — he would tap me on the face because he wanted a drink of water.
You might wonder why he didn’t just go to the water dish and drink, but that wasn’t an option he considered. Black Beauty drank from the faucet only.
He disdained water dishes, insisting on running water from the tap. And it had to be at that early morning hour. I tried ignoring him, but when I did, the facial taps just grew stronger.
And anyone who’s had cats readily understands that they don’t take “no” well. Felines call the shots most of the time, and Black Beauty was the master of the watering hole.
During his final couple of months, he seemed to forget about the early morning call to drink and waited on me to get up at 5:30. Maybe his internal clock stopped working.
He still wanted a drink from the tap right away, but he would sleep in until I arose.
Beauty wasn’t the only cat we ever had with unusual drinking habits. J.D., an orange tabby that was a favorite of my children, “tested” the water before he would consent to drink.
He would take liquid nourishment from a container on the floor, but not before first dipping a paw into the dish to check the temperature or the water quality or the presence of germs or whatever. Then he would shake the moisture from his paw and lap up as much water as suited him.
My Uncle Roy had a cocker spaniel named Blackie that went nearly everywhere with him, including his garage when he was working.
Uncle Roy loved soft-serve ice cream from the Dairy Bar in Brinkley and every day at 4 p.m. would drive the 10 miles to get that treat.
His companion for the ride was Blackie.
Uncle Roy’s regular order included either a hot fudge sundae or a vanilla cone plus a dish of vanilla ice cream. This was the pattern every day for years, as sure as the sun rose and set.
That sounds like an awful lot of ice cream for one man, but it wasn’t just for him.
The dish of ice cream was for Blackie, who would lick the bowl clean day after day.
Blackie got a little portly in his latter years, but he was a happy dog and brought much joy to Uncle Roy’s life.
Canine health experts would frown on Blackie’s ice cream treats, but he was amazingly healthy and lived to be an old, old dog.
My favorite dog in earlier years — a cocker spaniel named Runtsey (so named because he was the runt of the litter) — loved Dr Pepper.
I didn’t start out serving the beverage to him. He would find a way to sneak a few drops of this drink that has been my source of caffeine most of my life.
Ultimately, I gave in and just let him have his own glass — a wide-mouthed, juice-sized one that he could sip from without any difficulty.
He was with us for 16 years, so I don’t think the DP caused any serious harm.
Dane Slatten, the Courier’s newest employees, is a dog lover. That’s a good thing to be in this office of confirmed pet enthusiasts.
Dane has an 88-pound hound-mix that fancies herself a lap dog.
Actually “fancies” would be the wrong term. Pup (yes, that’s her name) IS a lap dog, all 88 pounds of her. She’s outgrown Owner’s lap, but that doesn’t deter her, Dane says.
I’d just call that a lapful of love.
Reporter Sarah Derouen, also new here, says her dog gives her the cold shoulder when she’s miffed. Literally.
If Sarah chastises her, the dog turns her back to her owner.
Dogs are a lot like some people. Some just have to have the last word.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of
The Saline Courier.