All of our dead pets are buried in the pasture.When we moved here we owned two ancient cats. A siamese named “Sammy” (how creative, I know), and a balinese named “Lila.” Ten points to you if you can figure out where we got their names. Sammy was so old he was deaf and blind, he’d walk into walls and try and eat his cat litter thinking it was food sometimes. He had a deep rumbly purr, and as a second grader I was already appreciating the comfort of a deep voice. His death was the most peaceful of any occurring in my life. We found him curled up in the dining room under the table, stiff and cold. My parents passed it off as Jesus taking Sammy out of his misery and I accepted that.

Lila went much much harder. And it still didn’t bother me much, considering I didn’t care for Lila. She was a snobby cat, who didn’t like being petted and was very loud. Plus, her long hair got everywhere. My mom, possibly attempting to try once again to be my friend, offered to take me to the grocery store for donuts the morning of my first day in fourth grade. Back then, I was an early riser, so it was no big deal to travel to Albertsons and back for donuts in time for me to catch the bus. As we were pulling out of the driveway, however, Lila darted under the car. Seriously. Under. From the safety of…not under the car. She managed to avoid having her skull crushed, but her neck was effectively snapped and I watched as she tried to run to the house – flipping and somersaulting. Ten feet from the car she dropped and as my mother watched (most likely horrified and completely lost as to what course of action to take) I sprinted from the car and knelt beside the cat. I said her name a few times, and satisfied she was dead, I went into the house. Donuts didn’t sound so good anymore. Happily, some good did come of the entire issue. Seeing as my last name starts near the beginning of the alphabet, I was one of the first for show and tell – and the first day of school informed my entire class my mother had run over my cat that morning. It was a show stopper. Literally.

This same year, we “lost” our labrador, Taffy. We “rescued” Taffy from the humane society and she was everything a lab was supposed to be. She played nicely with us and didn’t shed too much. She only poo-ed in one section of the yard. The only problem was her drive to protect us. Many, many times we received complaints from neighbors who were intimidated by the yellow lab at our house hurling herself against the backyard fence in an attempt to protect our house from the local joggers. I’m sure she meant well, but one day it just went too far. Our neighbors have never been the friendly kind. They used to own two very annoying smaller dogs – who were both I might add, old enough to warrant sympathy euthanization. This was before the law requiring fences around swimming pools and one day while we were over fighting (not playing, fighting) with the neighbor kids our youngest sister, RJ, wandered over to their pool. One of the neighbor’s dogs immediately ran at RJ and began barking and snapping at her – effectively driving her to the pool’s edge. Taffy saw what was going on and went nuts. In a matter of mere minutes, she found a way out of the backyard and to that little dog. She grabbed it by the stomach and did some very nasty business. The neighbors threatened to sue us, saying RJ had provoked the dog, the dog was a valuable showdog, and our dog was vicious and potentially rabid. All of which was a pile of you-know-what. My parents decided to euthanize Taffy to avoid the tricky issue of lawsuits and Christian ethics – thereby earning my scorn for many weeks.

My parents decided to have another go at breeding siamese cats the next year. My grandmother splurged and bought a teacup siamese for $250 from another local breeder. I named her Cuddles – she could fit into my cupped hands and would always fall asleep in my lap or beside me on my bed. This posed a problem when Cuddles began to have her babies in my bed. With me. Cuddles stuck around for a few years until the fateful day we watched “The Incredible Journey” on tv while we all did our laundry. Kiki, being impatient, checked on my clothes in the dryer hoping they were prematurely dry and discovered more than she expected. Yes, $250 worth of purebred Siamese in the dryer. And they were my clothes.Cuddles’ mate was named Sam. No, not Sampson this time, Samuel. My brother named him, what can I say? Sam was a huge cat. If there were cat bouncers, Sam could have had the best job at any club anywhere. Sam probably headed up the cat mafia. He always came home with huge cuts and torn ears and eyes swollen shut. We finally gave Sam away. His son, we named Bullseye, and Bullseye was a carbon copy of Sam. We gave Bullseye away too.

Josie-cat was a gift to my mother last Christmas. She was a calico long-hair and the sweetest kitten. She played with anyone, never really went to the bathroom anywhere but her box, and purred the moment she was touched. My mother adored her. You have to understand my mother isn’t really the doting sort, but Josie won her over. My mother made up songs about her. RJ complained my mother spent more time loving on the cat than she did loving on her kids. Not true, but almost. Josie was killed by neighborhood dogs in our own yard. My mother found her remains. Sad, twisted irony in that.

Now, we own Pooter and Blue. Both were mothers’ day presents to try and replace Josie. Blue is a longhair with grey and brown and black stripes. Pooter is a shorthair of solid grey. Blue is annoying as all get out. He meows all the time. He meows to get out, he meows to watch the toilet flush, he meows to get in, he meows to piss you off. Blue hates being held. Pooter is a snuggle buddy. He purrs loudly and plays gently. He wait patiently by the front door – inside or out – for it to open. He loves to be held. I don’t like Blue. I don’t think I’ll really mind when we bury Blue out back. Yes, I know that’s harsh. So it doesn’t seem fair Pooter was killed last night in our pasture by coyotes. The irony doesn’t escape me though. All of our dead pets are buried in the pasture.