Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, for cute…kitties and puppies August 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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I GREW UP ON A DAIRY and crop farm where cats and dogs roamed the property.

Although they were pets, they weren’t really pets. Rather, they were there to work. The cats caught mice. The dogs alerted us to wild animals and vehicles arriving in the farm yard.

My parents never bought cat or dog food. Table scraps, of which there were few from our family of eight, and a daily hub cap of milk warm from the cow nourished the cats and dogs.

One of my all-time favorite portraits shows Ian, my blogger friend Gretchen's son, with the family cat, Zephyr.

One of my all-time favorite portraits shows Ian, my blogger friend Gretchen’s son, with the family cat, Zephyr. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo shot in July 2013.

Of course, we kids grew quite fond of dogs like Blackie, Shep, Rex and Fritz Carter Mondale Ferraro and Tommer the cat (why can’t I remember the names of more cats?), …

I recall dressing kittens in doll clothes and pushing them in a doll buggy.

There were endless attempts to teach the dogs to shake hands and fetch balls or sticks.

Spring always brought a search in the hay loft or haystack for newborn kittens.

Yes, my memories of felines and canines are mostly pleasant ones of working farm animals that sometimes allowed us to play with them.

As an adult, considering the cost and care, I’ve never wanted a pet. Plus, I’m just not the type of person who wants an animal living indoors and/or in town. I know I’m in the minority. But that’s OK. I’ll just admire and pet other people’s pets.

Titan, so active I struggled to photograph him.

Titan, so active I struggled to photograph him.

The other night I met Titan, an adorable seven-week-old puppy, at the Spitzack farm outside Faribault. Puppies are so darned cute. Titan reminded me of the story my mom shared awhile ago. One recent afternoon a man from a nearby town arrived at the senior complex where she lives with nearly a dozen puppies for residents to pet and cuddle. He’d engaged the litter in active play so they’d be worn out. His strategy worked. Mom was so excited about a sweet, cuddly puppy falling asleep in her lap that you’d have thought she won the lottery.

Pets possess the power to comfort and heal and lift spirits.

Lots of dogs and that 1939 date on the right side of the mural.

This image shows a portion of the Pet Parade mural gracing the side of the historic bandshell in Faribault’s Central Park.

This evening, my community of Faribault holds its 78th annual Pet Parade beginning at 7 p.m. I can’t attend. But be assured, if you’re there, you’ll view plenty of cuddly cuteness.

DO YOU OWN A PET or have a favorite pet memory? Feel free to share.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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28 Responses to “Oh, for cute…kitties and puppies”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Aw….what a fun post and you are right–that picture of Ian and Zephyr is precious. I think that pets are so important to so many—and you know quite well how much I love my Buddy and Holly. They are a constant source of fun and companionship.As I type this comment Buddy is in his usual spot on my left and Holly on the right—our normal early morning configuration.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    Pet Parade – how nice. I bet that is something to see.

  3. Thread crazy Says:

    Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my Grandmother- my Dad’s parents. Grandma always had several cats and kittens and would let me feed them when I was there. She didn’t have food bowls for them but rather would open a can of “Puss n Boots” and set it out on back porch for the cats. Now days P&B can no longer be found…but rather Fancy Feast is all the rage. Yes I have 2 cats; surely.my love of cats was nurtured by my grandma. Oh and did I say we have 3 dogs…my.Mom was an animal person and her love of animals I also acquired! So our home is a pet friendly home!

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    Living on this rural acreage, dogs and cats (at least one of each) is a must! The boys had an indoor dog growing up but just briefly. Mostly they were of the outdoor variety. I prefer not to have these cute critters prowling/wandering in my home 24/7 with nothing “off limits”. And, yes, I know there are many who disagree with that. Just sayin’…………………………

  5. DeLores Says:

    I had to smile when I saw you dressed your cats up & pushed them in the doll buggy. I used to do the very same thing. It worked o.k. till the cats decided they had had enough and jumped out & ran with their clothes still on! That was a funny sight!. Their legs got caught in the material and they would fall, get up and try again. Would that be classified as animal cruelty????

  6. Lanae Says:

    Our cats had pretty common names–Tiger, Orangie, Mommy Kitty, Sprite, Limpy (we were kids and didn’t know any better back then to name our 3 legged cat Limpy) Most only lived a few years not like my pampered cats. I still miss my two boys. If any one wants to see Sabb look at Audreys post of my fat cat.

  7. Cute post. You already know that we dress our pampered kitties up.

  8. Jackie Says:

    I had a dog growing up, Patch chummed around with Hans the neighbor dog, they ran loose since we were in the country. As an adult I have NO desire at all to have a pet, especially in my house. I feel a wee bit guilty that my kids didnt get a dog (they really wanted one) but I insisted that some day they will have their own house for a pet to live, so far none of them have pets :) They are cute when they are babies but then they grow up and shed hair, lick faces and slobber…ugh, not for me!

  9. A pet parade would be so much fun — and chaotic too! We always had outdoor animals when I was growing up, too. Now, however, I strongly dislike the outside cats that slink around and leap up to snatch birds off my feeder.

  10. I grew up on a farm and there were multiple barn cats, stray dog drop offs, farm dogs and an indoor/outdoor cat that was my cat; Squeeky (she lived to be 19 years of age – laid her to rest in the wood shed on the farm). There were the pigs, chickens, sheep and the occasional deer hanging out. I remember one pig would come when I called her and she loved playing ball with a big rubber ball – cool pig. Love your captures – there is just something about children and pets, puppies and a good pet parade :) Happy Thursday!

  11. My uncle have quite a few dairy cows, dogs, a bull and of course the cats in the barn. The hay loft was a lot of fun and a great place to hide. Very cool.

  12. That is indeed a great photo! Ian was quite pleased when I pointed it out to him. :-) Zephyr continues to lounge around the deck and to catch the occasional mouse…or baby rabbit. He sheds like mad and he makes us smile!


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