Saturday, October 31, 2015

Brittany Beason

This is not a fairy tale, but let us pretend for a moment.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful black cat. She came to a family at the perfect time, just when the youngest daughter of the family was grieving the loss of a friendship. She filled the young girl's broken heart with joy and became her new best friend. The cat's name was Brittany Beason.

What's in a Name? 

I have already alluded to Brittany Beason at least once, and this probably won't be the last you hear of her. You may be wondering why she has such an oddly specific name. Well, there's a story for that.

As I have mentioned previously (or, as you may have guessed from my habit of lingering on stories about my long-deceased pets), I was a rather dramatic child. Around the age of 4, I attended a daycare center called Sunshine Playhouse (nicknamed "Sunshine Stinkhouse" by my sister, who was not a fan). I had a friend at this daycare center named Brittany Beason. (This was my pre-literacy days, so I'm not totally sure of the spelling here. All I know is that I loved this girl and we were best friends.)

One day on the playground, she told me she was moving. Like, immediately. This would be our last day together. I cried for days. I was sure I would never see her again. (Which is true, by the way, so maybe I had an appropriate reaction. Don't judge me! [Also, Brittany Beason if you're out there and not too scared after reading post this please comment on it! I miss you...])

Anyway, I was devastated. For about two weeks. Until I got a new best friend.

New Best Friend

She was smaller, feistier, hairier (as far as I know), and ended up being a much larger part of my life than her namesake. You guessed it - Brittany Beason! Below is a picture of her on top of our fish tank (the cat, not the preschooler). This very fish tank was responsible for countless deaths, one of which I'll mention later. Right now, we've got bigger fish to fry.

What a beautiful animal.
Brittany Beason was a bad ass cat. She came and went as she pleased. She was the boss of all the neighborhood cats, who liked to congregate under the cars in our driveway in the winter. If we didn't hear her meowing at the door at night to come in, she would wedge herself between the broken screen on my bedroom window and the glass and meow until I opened the window. The first time she did this I was almost scared to death, as she was completely black and I only saw a pair of yellow glowing eyes outside my window. Later, I came to enjoy the ritual as she almost always slept in my bed.

I'm Not Overreacting

At this point, my father has stopped reading this post. Which is for the best, really.

I mean, to my father's credit he probably thought one day I'd grow into a mature adult who would forgive him for getting rid of my BEST FRIEND. But too bad! I've done no such thing and despite his best efforts I'm just not that well-adjusted. I did learn an important lesson, though. Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes life is so unfair that your dad develops a "cat allergy" roughly eight years after getting a cat that you have fallen in love with. Go tell your therapist about these things. Or, if you're like me, vent about it in a very public venue. Whatever works.

I do take some comfort from the fact that I'm fairly sure my father would just live with his "cat allergy" if he had to do it over. Because, to the rest of the family's chagrin, I bring up this story at even the slightest mention of the words "cat" or "allergies". My husband has actually told me that he thinks that I have been too hard on my father about it. Can you believe that? I mean, I have now been pissed off about this incident for more than half of my life. I'm not going to just "let it go".

Yes, dear readers, that is the punch line. You may be wondering how this cat died. I don't know! We gave her away to a family that didn't have "cat allergies". Though I'm sure she is dead, as she would be roughly 21 years old at this point. Feeling unsatisfied with this ending? Well, too bad! So am I!

The End.

Monday, October 26, 2015

One Bird, Two Bird, Brown Bird, Bluebird


When I was about five years old, we had a pet bluebird for the space of approximately two weeks. Here's how it happened - I found a baby bluebird that had fallen from its nest. I went and told my mom and older sister to come and look at it because it was super cute. 
Megan: I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to pick it up. The mom won't take it back if you touch it. 
Mom: (quickly glancing in each direction) I don't see it's mom anywhere. And I don't want our cats to eat it. I'll just wear some gloves to pick it up. 
When the mother bluebird returned to the nest later that day, my mom tried to reintroduce the baby to the mother by holding it up in her gloved hands. I guess her body language didn't communicate the message of, "Here you go! I saved your baby!" very clearly. Or maybe my sister was right, because the mother bird gave zero shits about taking that baby back.

So, we had a new pet. A baby bluebird! I knew a lot of interesting people with a lot of interesting pets, but none with a baby bluebird. This was going to be awesome!

Baby Blue

In a previous post I said I was having trouble remembering the baby bluebird's name. I now remember that we called it Baby Blue after the George Strait song, of course. Because that song isn't depressing enough, we later got to be reminded of a dead pet when we heard it. (Also, Baby Blue is not to be confused with my first cat, Old Blue, who may or may not make an appearance in a later post.)

We set out with the best intentions. I remember my mother calling the local animal hospital and being given instructions to get a heat lamp for the bird and a dropper with some sort of baby food mixture to drip food into the baby bird's beak. It would need to be fed every two hours and the heat lamp would need to be on a timer so that the bird was never too hot or too cold. I'm not sure at what point my mother regretted having brought this bird into the house and letting us name it, but I know that she must have. Maybe around the time that she had to set an alarm to wake up every two hours during the night or buy actual baby food for a bird. However, she set to work right away and bought the necessary supplies and equipment to be this bird's new mother. The baby bird nursery was arranged in the bathroom, on one corner of the tub.

At one point, we even made a trip downtown to visit an exotic pet store. My mom asked the salesman for resources on caring for a baby bluebird. The man then got into a verbal confrontation with her, explaining to her that it was illegal to have a domesticated bluebird. She said something like, "Well what do you want me to do? Just let it die?" And he suggested that she turn the bird over to animal control. We left the store quickly without another word to the salesman.

I remember being very distraught the whole way home in the car thinking that we were all going to jail for housing an illegal pet. I stated this concern several times to my mother, who ignored me. I think her patience with the whole bluebird situation was wearing rather thin.

A Downhill Turn

At some point, Baby Blue's situation took a turn for the worst. Despite following all the rules (except for the one about not taking a bluebird into your home), the little bird was just not doing well. It was becoming pretty clear that the bird was not going to make it.

I should admit that I was a rather dramatic child. I think when my parents knew that the death of this bird was inevitable, they warned my sister and I that we should say our goodbyes. I think the bird held on a little longer than expected. I distinctly remember at least three mornings before school where I took some time to cry over the little bird's bed and tell it a heart-felt goodbye as I was sure it would be dead by the time I returned home. I'm sure anyone would have thought that I had known the animal my whole life, rather than approximately 14 days.

One night, Baby Blue passed away. But not before we took in another wild bird that we found outside.

Brown Bird

At some point during this whole ordeal, our cats did attack a small bird near our home. I came across an injured brown bird and, having not learned my lesson, told my mom about it. I think since Baby Blue's prospects weren't looking so good Mom thought that we might forget about that bird dying if she saved another bird instead! Or maybe she had just invested so much time and money in bird-saving equipment that she thought she might as well save any wild bird she came across. I'm really not sure what the logic was here, but she brought the bird into the house.

It quickly became apparent that this bird was in even worse condition than Baby Blue. I don't even think we named it. I think that even as a five-year-old child I was like, "Nah. Let's not get our hopes up on this one."

The brown bird made a noise that we'd never heard from the bluebird! That was kind of neat, at first. Until it became obvious that it was making that noise out of distress and because nothing we were doing was actually helping to repair any of its internal injuries. Then the bluebird starting making a distressed noise, too. Like it learned it from the brown bird. Then I think we all started making distressed noises, because we had two very ill animals living in our bathroom and no idea how to turn the situation around.

When my father came home one day to find that we had - yet another - dying bird in the house, I think he was a little distressed.
Dad: "Why in the hell do we have two dying birds in our bathroom?"
Mom: "Shhh. Don't say that. We are going to save them."
Dad: "Oh, God. What happened to that brown one? Are those teeth marks in it?"
Mom: "Yes. We rescued it from being eaten by our cats."
Dad: "You should have let them finish the job. There is no sense in letting it die in here!" 
Hard to say who was right, really. I mean, on one hand, the bird-rescue project kept us busy for a few weeks. And I think there were probably some good lessons to be learned from it. But the birds still died in the end and our cats never got to enjoy eating them. So, I'd say, the victim in this situation is still pretty unclear. I mean, you could argue that everyone was a victim. The birds, the cats, my mother, my father... but especially me. Obviously. Because it is now twenty years later and I am still debating the merits of bringing wild birds into the house to attempt to nurse them back to health.

P.S. I realize that my first two posts have been about birds, but I'm trying to ease you guys into the bigger stuff. You have to build up a tolerance to this kind of story. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Career Day

Dan & Marie

Dan and Marie Quail (pictured below) were two birds that my mother named after the Quayles - the 44th vice president of the United States and his wife (also pictured here for comparison). I'm either incorrectly remembering the female bird's name or my mother didn't do her research before naming the birds. Mrs. Quayle's fist name is actually Marilyn. Though, to be fair, this was pre-Google so she probably would've had to open a book or newspaper or something to actually find out what Dan Quayle's wife was named. But it was close enough.

(Photo credit: me)
The Quails in their little habitat
Dan Quayle, official DoD photo.JPEG
(Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense)
Dan Quayle
Marilyn Quayle.jpg
(Photo credit: White House Publicity)
Marilyn (not Marie) Quayle
Until they met their unfortunate end, they (the birds, not the former vice-president and his wife - they are still alive) were pretty unremarkable creatures that hung out in this silver metal cage on our back porch. I mean, we weren't cruel, the porch was covered with a lovely roof. The ceiling of the porch was even painted sky-blue by my mother with little white clouds. I like to think she did this to help recreate the birds' natural habitat. But, truthfully, I'm pretty sure it was something she did during a manic episode in which she thought, "Hey! I know what would brighten this place up! I should paint our porch to look like the sky! But first, I should take an extension cord and a light out there because it's the middle of the night right now!" I can't remember if this was before or after she painted our back door to look like the sea. With a sailboat on it, of course! In our sunflower-patterned kitchen. You can't make this stuff up, folks!

Anyway, the Quails were boring. We never really hung out except when I gave them food or watched them hop around in their cage for a few minutes. My parents must not have been overly attached to them either, because when I asked if I could take one of our household pets to school for Career Day, my mother totally offered up one of those poor birds as a sacrifice.

Of course, as a fourth grader, I didn't realize that we were sending one of our animals to an early grave. I just wanted an excuse to take my best pal, our black cat named Brittany Beason, to school with me. I had decided to dress up as a veterinarian. I can't actually remember whether I wanted to be a veterinarian as a fourth grader, or whether I was just pretending to want to be a veterinarian in order to convince my parents that it was necessary that I bring a live animal to school with me. I know myself pretty well, so I'm thinking that my whole story was probably bullshit. Whatever. The point is, my parents were supportive of my dream/bullshit story and allowed me to take Marie (or Marilyn) Quail to school with me for Career Day.

Little did I know, Marie Quail would be in desperate need of a veterinarian by the end of the school day.

Marie meets fourth grade

Being a very calm and boring bird, I assumed she would chill out in her cage and hop about if someone fed her. Truthfully, I probably didn't even think that far ahead as (again) I was a fourth grader. See how easily I deny any responsibility for this event? I should run for office. (Except that voters will have this animal tragedy memoir to cite when they discuss whether or not I am emotionally stable enough for the position.)

The bird wasn't chill. She found the room full of fourth graders extremely upsetting and decided she would rather die than be a part of this world for one eight-hour day. And, really, as someone who has worked in the public school system, I can't blame her. She didn't hop. She leapt up and down all day until eventually she bashed her head against the top of her cage enough times to give herself a pretty severe head injury. By the end of the day, the little bird had a bloody head and still continued to exhibit self-injurious behavior during the quiet ride home from school that afternoon.

I was, naturally, very concerned for the animal and wanted it to be seen by a vet. My parents had adopted a not uncommon attitude toward the injured bird, stating, "It will be fine" or, "We'll see a vet tomorrow". She was dead by morning.

At this point in the story, dear readers, you may choose your own ending! For Ending #1, you will read the story that I was either told as a child, invented as a child, or invented as a child in order to repress the story I was told as a child. For Ending #2, you will read the story that I was told as an adult. This is a common theme in this blog. It turns out that when you are an adult, you are expected to be able to laugh with the rest of the family about how your dog wasn't really taken to "live on a farm". Anyway, choose your ending carefully.

Ending #1 - I'm pretty sure that I made this one up as a child because I was old enough to stop asking questions, and wise enough to know that my pretend ending was better anyway.

Dan Quail, who had been reunited with his frantic and self-injurious wife just hours before her death, also died within days. We weren't sure what happened. My sister Megan and I decided that he must have died of a broken heart. Though we both secretly thought it was probably more likely that he died of a combination of stress and exposure to the elements. My parents did not correct any of these assumptions.

(Photo credit: me again)
See how in love they are? 

Ending #2 - The story told to me by my father when I was old enough to forget why I had stopped asking questions.

Me: I'm going to tell the story about the Quails in my blog.
Dad: Oh, you mean the quail that ate each other?
Me: What?!? No! Marie jumped up and down in the cage until she bludgeoned herself to death.
Dad: Oh. That's right. And then they ate each other.

Let this be a lesson to those of you who think you want to hear Ending #2 to these stories.
At this point in the conversation I remembered to stop asking questions. So the best guess I have for you, dear reader, is that Marie Quail became suicidal after being locked in a room with hyper fourth graders for a day. Upon returning home, her suicidal behavior either turned homicidal and she decided to devour her one true love, or her one true love smelled her bloody head wound when she arrived home and decided to devour her. Either way, it wasn't a pretty ending for the Quails. Or any of my pets. You have been warned.

Author's Foreword

Hello, readers! Welcome to my blog! Before we get to the good stuff, let me give you some background and answer a few questions.


This is a blog about the many animals I have owned in my lifetime and how some of them have died in tragic, yet entertaining, ways. 

If I were to estimate how many pets I've owned in my lifetime:
5 and 1/2 cats
5 birds
15 fish (This is a conservative estimate, I think. I flushed at least 6 on my own.)
2 hermit crabs
20 dogs

I can't shake the feeling I'm forgetting someone. I fell asleep once while trying to count how many dogs I've owned. I find that it's actually more effective than counting sheep. But only if you've owned 20 dogs in your lifetime and also try to picture them when counting. If you haven't owned enough pets and suffer from insomnia, I suggest trying to memorize my list of pet names and reciting it to yourself before bed. If you don't suffer from insomnia or aren't that interested in what my pets were named you may skip the next section. 

Animal List

Old Blue
Pretty Rainbow Cat
Alice (plus a litter of kittens)
Brittany Beason
Cordelia (.5)

Birds: (*remembering names is hard)
Brown bird*
Blue bird*
Dan Quail
Marie Quail
White bird*

Notable fish: (I won't ask you to remember any others)

Hermit crabs: 

Gracie II
Lucy (plus two litters of puppies)

Sweet Pea

Mimsy (plus a litter of puppies)
Little Bit

I should note that this does not include the names of any puppies or kittens that we did not keep for a significant time period. If I were to include those numbers it might seem truly crazy, and I'm going for only mild insanity. (Fine. Including puppies and kittens this estimate of 47.5 pets comes to about 62.5. Spay and neuter your pets, folks.)

My family has also had three Great Danes which I will not include here because I never technically lived with these animals. But I feel fortunate to have skipped the period of time in which my family fell in love with huge, amazing dogs with relatively short lifespans. 


Question 1: Amanda, this is your first blog post. How is it that readers already have questions?
Answer 1: I've decided to make up some questions that I might encounter later! I'm just that proactive. 
(Comment 1: Great idea!)

Question 2: Why is this blog called "You're Gonna Get Runned Over"? 
Answer 2: It is named after a really catchy song my cousin wrote as a child. He used the song to taunt their newly-adopted kittens about their inevitable fate. I like to picture him holding a cat by the scruff of it's neck and singing this right in their face. It wasn't cruel. It was realistic and also pretty funny to watch. The colloquial language also highlights the theme of rural Texas that readers will encounter throughout this blog. And, as I've stated, this blog is about tragic and amusing animal deaths. 

Question 3: How do you sleep at night? 
Answer 3: I fall asleep by counting my dead dogs and trying to remember their names and faces. Have you not been paying attention?