Two very special animals helped my sister and I through one of the most difficult periods of our lives. One was a black miniature poodle called Candy, the other a tortoiseshell cat called Tiger.
We were raw from the death of our mother, me at 13, my sister at 8 so my cousin gave us one of her dogs - she bred poodles. Candy had the sweetest temperament and put up with any amount of mauling when we kept picking her up and fussing her but in the first few weeks my heart went out to her as she flew to the window with the sound of every car, looking to see if they'd come back for her.
Some years passed and the edge left the rawness of our grief but the void left by our mother was still there and we all missed her dreadfully. Dad lost all interest in everything. Our bungalow and its once beautiful garden looked as bereft as we felt, the lawns and borders were overgrown, an ideal place for a little stray cat, not much more than a kitten herself, to make a nest to have her babies. Two large dogs lived across the road and those kittens wouldn't stand a chance if they got hold of them.
"Can we take her in Dad? Pleeeease?"
"No! I can't abide cats, they go after the birds."
"Just until she's had her kittens?"
He sighed. He was beaten. He didn't care about anything anymore. "Just until it's had its kittens, then it's going."
We called her Tiger because of her colouring. She and Candy although not getting off to the best of starts became best friends. To read the full story of their friendship, how Candy mothered the kittens and also our family story my memoir Shadow Across the Sun is available from Amazon as an ebook and also paperback with the old cover. For the new cover in paperback go to feedaread.com. The price is about the same when you take P&P into account.
The two beautiful souls wrapped up in that little cat and dog, not forgetting those of the kittens saw my sister and I through very dark days. Here are a few pictures of them. I apologize for the quality, they date from the 1970s.