Category Archives: Pet Photos

A moment of Smudge zen

During my last visit to the family farm, I stepped outside only to be surprised by a sleeping predator hanging out near the door.  Resting against the house is a ladder placed slapdash near the side steps.

I immediately turned and found Smudge sleeping peacefully atop the ladder.

Smudge sleeping atop a ladder

And a slightly different view.

Smudge sleeping atop a ladder


Since I visited the family farm yesterday and spent some time with the various felines, I thought I’d share some photos of Smudge.  He’s the eldest of the three cats who work and play in our East Texas refuge.  He’s also a big lovable kid who—I believe—still misses Smartie, his brother.

Taken during my visit on April 1, here he is making his way toward some lovin’.  The moment he realized we were all outside, he rushed from his hiding place and made a beeline for our position.

Smudge trotting through the grass on a sunny afternoon (183_8308)

I stepped outside during yesterday’s visit while the dogs were out and about for a bit of play and a nature break.  When we headed back to the house, Smudge had taken up a position on the steps where he undoubtedly would be seen and would therefore get some lovin’.  While he waited, a nap sounded like a brilliant idea.

Smudge taking a nap on the steps (195_9526)

Felines of the family farm

You might remember being introduced to Chewy and Yoda late last year.  They’re the two new feline additions to the family farm.  Since I visited there last weekend and had an opportunity to spend some time with the two young’uns, I thought I’d give you an update on them as well as introduce you to Smudge, their mentor.

Chewy lying in the sun looking to give and get some affection (177_7782)

That’s Chewy.  He’s still the biggest lover of the group, although all three enjoy giving and getting affection, just some more than others.  He’s the pathetic baby that follows you everywhere constantly rubbing and meowing and purring, and falling over for some attention at the drop of a hat.  I hadn’t been at the farm for more than 10 minutes when he sauntered over and gave me all the leg rubs I could stand before leaning over and giving him a whole lot of petting and scratching.  But when a bug caught his attention, off he went.  He is still a kitten, you know.

Chewy rolling over in the morning sun with a smile on his face (177_7784)

Stretched out in a blanket of morning sunshine with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, Chewy just loves people.  After chasing the bug for some time, and thereby providing hysterical comic relief for all of us, he came back, flopped over, and begged for more attention.  Both his color and personality remind me of Kazon to a certain degree, although he’s normally frightened of strangers whereas Chewy appears to not know what that word means.

Yoda playing with a Polyphemus moth he caught (177_7790)

And then there’s Yoda.  What a little spitfire this one is, all full of piss and vinegar when he wants to be, yet equally full of love and adoration when he wants to be.  But one thing he is all the time is full of trouble.  This cat doesn’t take anything from anybody, whether it’s a dog or a cow or anything else.  The world is his playground and he intends to enjoy it—in spite of what anyone else thinks!

You’ll notice in that photo that he’s holding a Polyphemus moth between his front paws.  It’s a large one like the one I showed you previously.  All of the cats find the large population of insects to be a source of tremendous entertainment.  I can’t tell you how often we laughed watching one or more of them leap and tumble and hunt whatever flying or crawling thing happened to cross their path.

Yoda lying in the grass asking for attention (177_7792)

But not too dissimilar from his brother Chewy, Yoda can also be a real lover.  It rarely lasts long, mind you, and it happens only on his terms and according to his schedule, but it happens nonetheless.  Still, he’s the wild child of the bunch, the overly independent, cantankerous, willful little boy who does as he pleases and doesn’t put up with anyone else’s nonsense.

Which finally brings us to Smudge…

Smudge lying in the grass (177_7776)

He’s the eldest amongst the cats, the mentor for two rambunctious children who have yet to learn their place in the feline pecking order.  But Smudge doesn’t really care.  He’s all too happy to focus his attention on people, to give and get plenty of love, and to patrol his territory with the fierceness of a friendly predator, one who prefers to play more than hunt—but who can hunt with deadly accuracy and the sharp intent of a real killer.  That is why they’re outside, after all.  It’s a working farm in the middle of the wild East Texas woodlands, an enclave of wildlife both large and small, and it takes a predator to protect the homestead.

Smudge is Smartie‘s brother.  You may well remember Smartie took ill last autumn.  He was seen briefly acting quite unlike his normal self, but then he disappeared and hasn’t been seen since.  It broke Mom’s heart to lose that brawny man of a cat.  He was a true master of predation, a large feline that epitomized the very essence of the word ‘tomcat.’  No one messed with Smartie because of his size and fierce intensity, yet there could not have been a clearer dichotomy when it came to people: he loved them.  As sweet as the day was long, his loss broke Smudge’s heart and left him lonely and alone, the sole remaining protector of a vast and wild landscape.

Smudge lying in the grass soaking up a bit of morning sun (177_7778)

The loss of Smartie had two different effects.

One: It brought Chewy and Yoda into the fold.  Smudge needed company as much as he needed help, so two younger brothers seemed the perfect fit.  He’s done a great job teaching the younger boys what it means to be chiefs of the world.  Whether it’s hunting the invading grasshopper or occasional rodent—or even challenging an interloping snake, or if it’s knowing the true pleasures of rowdy, high-spirited play, or even if it’s understanding the importance of a lazy nap on the roof where one can soak up plenty of morning sun with easy access to a bit of shade when it gets too hot, Smudge has proved to be a fantastic leader of the cat pack.  He enjoys having company and the boys enjoy having someone to learn from.  And oh how they all enjoy having friends to play with.

Two: The cats are no longer allowed to stay out overnight.  Although this is a working farm, as I said, and having outside cats is a prerequisite if one is to avoid mice in the hay, rats in the shed, snakes in the chicken coop, and all manner of other mayhem, there is an equal dose of concern for the safety of the cats who are as much farmhands as they are family members.  They have a job to do, yes, but they’re not disposable.  It’s therefore now regular business for them to be kept inside from late afternoon/early evening until the first person steps outside in the early morning.  Nothing can be done to ensure their complete safety; no one believes otherwise.  Yet providing them shelter and security when they are most at risk is part of caring for them.  They’re out and about during the day when they can hunt and protect their territory, and they’ve learned to keep close to people—something that keeps them close to home.  As an avid cat person, I know it would be best to keep them inside all the time, and Mom would love that seeing as they’re her pets.  But it is a farm and, like everyone else there—person and animal alike—they have work to do to keep things going.


Due to circumstances beyond their control, my brother and sister-in-law have been forced to relocate their dog to the family farm.  It’s hoped this will be only temporary for they love the dog dearly and, without a doubt, the dog enjoyed a stable home for many years before being abruptly dislocated.  But things happen, as they say, and things change.

As for the dog, Snoopy, she’s a pathetic baby who never grew out of the puppy stage.  She’s still a big ol’ puppy now.  Here she is lounging in the sun during my recent visit to East Texas.  Keep in mind she lives with another dog, three cats, a litany of other animals, and plenty of people.

Snoopy lying in the sun (177_7781)

Why, yes, she is a pit bull.  I’m so glad you noticed because I’m going to rail against those who dislike pit bulls and those who keep trying to pass laws to victimize this breed.

My family has had pit bulls for decades.  Many decades.  And we’ve loved each one of them like a member of the family.

Like any other breed of dog, there is nothing more vicious about pit bulls than there is about German shepherds or Dobermans or rottweilers or…  Well, I could go on ad nauseam listing every breed of dog on the planet.

Pit bulls seem to get a bad reputation from ignorant people who have never been around one, and sometimes from people who have had unfortunate incidents with one.  Neither case justifies their proclivity toward banning the dogs in toto and punishing those who share a home with pit bulls by inflicting unusual requirements and tighter restrictions.

Let me first address those who have been involved in pit bull attacks: ALL. DOGS. ATTACK.  If we were to subject every breed that has attacked someone to stringent and unnecessary brutality via the law, our first step would be to outlaw all dogs.  There is no single breed capable of claiming its brethren has never attacked someone or something.  It happens all the time around the world.  Get over that right now for it has nothing whatsoever to do with being safe around the animals themselves.

When dogs go feral, they are dangerous.  When dogs are brutalized and abused, they are dangerous.  When dogs are neglected and starved, they are dangerous.  When dogs are mistreated and forced to fight, they are dangerous.  None of this has anything to do with the dogs and everything to do with the people who put the canines into these positions.

Pit bulls are large dogs.  Just ask Jenny about Cody.  The first time she visited the family farm and came face to face with a dog that weighed more than she did and had a head larger than her own, her fear was palpable.  They can be intimidating to look at, what with their massive frames and powerful jaws.  Yet Jenny equally could tell you it didn’t take long for her to trust that dog, and eventually she found herself sitting on the floor petting him while he rested his head in her lap and played the roll of a baby soaking up all the attention he could get.  He, too, was nothing but an overgrown puppy, a loving yet protective animal who looked and sounded more ferocious than he was.  That’s not to say he couldn’t be fierce if events warranted, but isn’t that true of all dogs?  Yep!

What bothers me more about the anti-put bull mentality is when it stems from people who have never been around one at all.  They’ve never been attacked.  They’ve never shared a home with one.  In fact, aside from on television, they’ve never even seen one.  Those people make me sick.  Their view is that someone else said anecdotally that the dogs are dangerous, therefore the dogs must be dangerous.  They have no firsthand knowledge of such a thing.  They don’t know the first thing about pit bulls, yet they puff themselves up into dog experts and claim restricting this breed is for the best.  Like they know anything…

For now, Texas has a restriction on laws that target specific breeds.  It should stay that way.

Pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other dog, any other breed, and they don’t deserve this bad reputation from the clueless and witless idiots clamoring to be the next victim who can claim these dogs are dangerous.  What a bunch of busybodies!

Having been around pit bulls for most of my life, I can assure you they are no more or less dangerous than any other breed of dog.  More importantly, I can assure you they can be the biggest babies, the most playful friends, the most loving companions, and the most gentle of animals.  It all depends on how they’re raised, how they’re treated, and what kind of life they’re being given.

All this senseless bickering about them is just that: senseless bickering.  People need to shut up already and leave the poor dogs alone.  If you don’t like them, don’t go around them.  If you have a bad experience, go after the person responsible instead of the dog.  If you think they’re dangerous, you’re a clueless git who needs to stop talking so much and start learning something.

To be quite honest, I trust pit bulls more than I trust people.