Our dog liked carrots and cats. She ate the one and played with the other. When we lived in Modesto, one of the men in the church advised us, "Plant food!" The soil was rich and yet sandy. The result was that we had lush gardens that were easy to til. We had frequent salads of home grown leaf lettuce. One year we planted butter lettuce, and it was wonderful. Jonathan claimed his salad had an aphid, but I had washed the lettuce well, so I told him it must be some spices. He won the argument by pointing out that this particular bit of "spice" was walking (as he dramatically mimicked the motion with his arms). One year I noticed that the kids were pulling up carrots and only eating a few bites and then leaving them in the yard. After demanding that they stop leaving half eaten carrots around the yard, I caught the culprit in action. It was Talitha! She turned her head sideways to the ground, grasping a carrot and then pulled it right out of the ground. She loved to chew carrots.
Talitha also loved to get a cat head in her mouth. This was not for eating, but Phil had taught her to play the game. He gave her the order, "Talitha, go get that cat." And off she would go after the cat. With its head in her mouth she would shake her head a couple of times, but not so hard as to harm the cat. Meanwhile the cat would grab Talitha's beard and kick with her hind feet. It was quite a tussle to observe, and yet neither animal sustained any injuries from all this. It was quite a different story when Phil would take her for a walk. When he saw a neighborhood cat he could not resist the temptation. He would give the familiar order, "Get that cat!" The problem was that even though Phil knew the game and Talitha knew the game, the cat definitely did not know the game. Usually that cat would end up in a tree. The most unusual feature to this routine was what happened when the cat died. Somehow we went through many a cat during Talitha's 16 years.
We deprived Talitha of the joys of motherhood, surgically. But motherhood is not to be easily denied by many a female. We discovered that Talitha would mope around the house without a cat to play with. Even though the family was quite satisfied with this dog for a pet, she pined for progeny to nurture. We needed to get a cat for her to mother and to amuse her. As soon as we adopted a new cat, Talitha was her bouncy, happy self again. And the new cat had to learn the game quickly. Since Talitha had been spayed she never had a litter. But she would curl up and sleep with her pet cat. She even enjoyed the cat nursing on her unused teats.
I mentioned in an earlier log that Talitha decided that she was my dog. She would never let me forget that. In Modesto our home was several blocks from the church where I had my study. But when Talitha discovered one of the kids left the gate ajar off she would go. She had to round the corner, run two blocks to the alley, go down the alley several hundred feet and come to the door of my study. More than once I answered the phone to find it was Barbara, asking if Talitha was there. I was unaware of it, so I put down the phone and went to the door, and there she was with her enthusiastic pant, asking to come in.