A reader’s perspective of animals in literature
A month ago Kim and I agreed to kitten sit in our home. A co-worker of Kim’s brought over the most adorable little kitten who looked like a mini-me version of our younger of two cats. It was to be a great weekend especially for the twin kitties who could romp and chase and wrestle all day long. Except that didn’t happen. There was lots of hissing to be sure and a lot of sniffing and unfortunately A LOT of fleas! This poor tiny little kitten was infested!!
After 1.5 baths (the .5 because it was redo of her head) and a blow drying experience we were breathing a sigh of relief that we caught the situation before it got bad. Oh how wrong we were. A week later both of our cats were scratching up a storm and randomly jumping from their sleep as they were attacked mercilessly by these little biting critters.
A bath, crossed fingers and lots of hope for that to work and relieve our poor kitties from the torture but nope, didn’t happen. Finally we were at wits end and called in pest control to spray the house down. Of course there was lots of preparation for such an experience as outlined by the company including how and where to vacuum before they entered and how and where to vacuum every day for a week after they left. Making sure the cats were treated by their vet so there wasn’t a re-infestation. And of course how we would have to stay out of the house for a minimum of four hours!! What do you do with two indoor cats for four hours?!
Well the morning of the treatment arrived and I gave the cats another bath which they both hated and piled them into the car which they both hated. I figured I could drive around for a bit and when it was safe, we would all come back home. For our cats- WORST DAY EVER! How humiliating for them to both be soaked and then shoved into a moving vehicle for four hours! And believe me they both let me know how incredibly unhappy they were in regards to this experience.
We are blessed with two incredibly sweet and incredibly different feline companions. The older of the two is a long hair with possible Maine Coon traits in her coloring and coat–no six toes though. Her favorite things to do are to lie around all day on her “princess” pillow and wait for her servants (us) to carry her to her food bowl, or outside for her vitamin D exposure, or to brush her since she prefers not to groom herself (and for some reason Kim thinks she’s spoiled!).
The other one, quite a bit younger, is all about fast! He hates to be held but loves to be on laps. Give him a “mama kiss” on his head and it’s a sure way for him to take off at full speed to try to outrun the yuckyness. We love them both and they make our little family!
A week went by and our poor long hair cat was becoming more and more miserable. Her undercoat had started to severely mat from her bathing experiences to the point that she was nipping at anyone coming even close to her bottom. What to do? Well, the poor thing would need to be shaved! So yet again she is piled into the car, which she still hates, driven to the groomer and made to suffer the experience.
Except she really, really didn’t like that backside being touched! The groomer carefully placed her in a collar to help in the process which of course would be even more humiliating! Our poor cat rebelled and managed to catch her tooth on the collar and broke it! A car ride, a groomer and now the emergency vet! NEW. WORST. DAY. EVER! But we would do anything for our little kitties including scheduling them for a tooth extraction just to make them feel better. They truly are a part of the family!
So as I was sitting in the examination room of the vet snuggling and baby talking our cat (because she is not a spoiled princess!) and just wanting to make her world better I started thinking about how animals impact so many lives and how our lesfic authors are able to capture that love and impact.
Two stories immediately jumped out as having animals as actual characters in the story. Characters that impacted the plot, the characters and the connections between others. The first one is Georgia Beers’ Olive Oil and White Bread. The puppy that the couple adopts- Boo, is allowed to grow alongside the characters throughout the entire story. Boo had a place, a responsibility and an ability to move the story.
Same with KG MacGregor’s dog character of Dexter in Life After Love. Dexter wasn’t just a pet for one of the main characters, Dexter was a supporting character for the story. One with a personality and impacting messages.
There are more stories with animals as actual characters though and I’m stuck trying to remember them! Readers help me out!! What stories have you noticed where our amazing authors make one of their characters an animal? Animals that have a role, a personality, a purpose to the overall story.
Let me know if that is something that you enjoy seeing as much as I do. Fur characters that not only make the characters in the story react but make us as readers react as well be it with laughter, tears, concern, or joy. Characters that add to the story because they are capturing a part of life that is so common and so familiar to many of us. Let me know some titles and some favorites of yours!