Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Good-bye to Friends Past

Sappy sad pet post.

Fritz died over Christmas vacation. The poor lil' bugger had severe and apparently sudden diabetes. He didn't even last two hours after arriving at the vet's. I've (we've) lost pets before but Fritz was in a league of his own. That doesn't make the others easier to forget though.

As a kid, I remember bawling my eyes out after being told that our adopted Italian street dogs, Jake and Tippy, had been struck by cars in Naples after escaping from their owners' houses. In 1984, Jake was tossed over a wall and into our yard by some apparently unsatisfied Italian dog owners. Burgarly was a constant concern and Dad came up with the idea that this small mutt could be a guard dog. He gave her the tough-sounding moniker Jake and she promptly ran off. A month later she returned, but only after being humped by every mangy, diseased, flea-bitten, rabid, shit-eating cur within 10 miles of Lucrino. This fact was deduceed by the size of her accompanying horny canine entourage and the diversity of the massive litter she ended up squeezing out. Our kee-yoot wittle doggy was a slut. No two pups were remotely alike. All but one were given away to Americans; the last one we kept and named Tippy for the white tip on her grey tail.

The dynamic canine duo of mother and daughter used to tunnel under fences, jump over them, or squeeze their skinny bodies through the most impossibly tight gaps in a bid to explore their greater surroundings. They snuck into the pizzareia in the evenings and snuck down to the bus stop in the mornings. We liked them and they liked us. Mischevious, cunning, opportunistic ... despite embodying many qualities of the Neopolitans, both furiously hated Italians. They could sense nationality from hundreds of yards away. Even after we changed neighborhoods, no fuss was raised when Americans or Brits came down the street; but Italians, even from a block's distance at night in a power outage, faced forty combined pounds of frothing, barking hatred. It was a great deterrent to theft and general Neopolitan sleeze. Jake and Tippy were adopted by separate American families after we left for the States. It bothered me that they were separated and confined to small yards. In the end, I finally found comfort with the idea that these street dogs hadn't died of old age but from being themselves. Getting killed by a car is the only proper way for a Neopolitan street dog to die.

Ten years later we got our first cat, Fritz, soon after Mom passed away. With Trav gone at college, Dad was concerned about me coming home to an empty house after the school day ... he figured another presence in the house would help fill the big hole in my day-to-day routines. We ended up at PetSmart and, after he explained my situation to the "cat ladies" managing the giveaway, were quickly acquainted with the liveliest cat of the bunch. Indiana became Fritz and rapidly found his niche in our all-male household. He was a cool cat.

Yeah, I don't think this was going anywhere ... I'll try to end with a big thought. Pets have helped me get a handle on mortality.


Blogger pasq242 said...

The horny canine entourage is analagous to Neopolitans themselves.

My one trip to Italy we had packs of those fuckers tailing our tour group. Not content to follow behind, they'd even wait outside our hotel (whose perimeter, thankfully, was fenced). I didn't see one Italian female under the age of 60 the whole trip, presumably because the rest were indoors getting their brains fucked out.

11:23 AM  

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