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Ann Bailey: Adopted pets bring new personalities to families

Ellen and Brian Gregoire with Frodo the cat. Submitted photo/Ann Bailey1 / 2
Ann Bailey2 / 2

Six Septembers ago Ellen and I were on the way back from a walk when we heard a plaintive mewing in the grove across the road from our driveway. We followed the sound into the old cottonwood trees and up to an opening in a gnarled fallen log where furry faces peaked out.

The kittens hissed and spit as we reached in and gently removed them from the hole, but in seconds the protest turned into purring and the two nestled against Ellen and I. After cuddling the kittens for a few minutes, I told Ellen we should put them back in the tree because their mother should be coming back to take care of them. I assured Ellen that if their mother didn't come back, we would hear the kittens crying and then would bring them in our house and take care of them.

Two days later, Ellen heard the kittens crying, louder and more insistently, and, after a search for their mother, we determined that she must have been a casualty of a coyote or car. We brought the kittens, a male and a female, into the house and I made a trip to Grand Forks to buy a kitten baby bottle and formula. The kittens were ravenous and quickly learned to drink from the bottle, devouring their milk.

Growing pet family

"Frodo," the male, and "Sam," rapidly grew and after a few weeks graduated to eating solid food. When the kittens were 2 months old, one of our friends adopted Sam. We adopted Frodo, thanks to Ellen's negotiating skills. She convinced us that because we had three dogs, three children and three horses, it only made sense to have three cats.

Obviously, it was less rational reasoning than it was soft hearts for animals that persuaded Brian and I to agree to keeping Frodo, but we're glad we did. Frodo is a cat with mega personality and a fierce hunter, reducing our mouse population inside and outside our house. He "demands" to go outside every day, marching to the door and rattling the knob until we open it so he can patrol the farmstead. Each afternoon about 3, he comes back to the house and lies on the front step or sits on the window ledge until we let him in for his supper. For the rest of the day and night he sleeps or plays with the dogs, which besides his human family and our horses, are his best buddies.

Frodo also likes to go on our evening walks with Casey, Alfred and Rosebud. If he lags too far behind, he sits by the side of the road, watching for gophers, until we get back to him, then falls into stride with us. He also keeps me company when I feed the horses and rubs on their legs. He even enjoys car rides, sitting on the dashboard or riding shotgun next to us.

As anyone who has pets knows, each one has a distinct personality. We're glad that our family gets to enjoy Frodo's.