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When one of my cats was younger and a lot fatter, he came bowling in from the garden with an almighty crash. Looking slightly stunned, he'd arrived into the kitchen having ripped the cat flap from the door and was still wearing it as a cat-tutu. Did I mention he was quite fat?

In honour of Jake, a well loved cat, who died on Wednesday, tell us your pet stories and cheer us up.

(, Fri 8 Jun 2007, 8:15)
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When I was a nipper my parents inherited a golden retriever which had spent the first few years of her life as a gamekeepers dog. She had lived in a kennel until until she came to live with us and was lacking in social graces. One of her favourite pasttimes was to roll in foul-smelling substances she'd found when out walking. Fox shit was preferred, cowshit would do at a pinch, and on one memorable occasion when walking along a canal she discovered and rolled in a dead and well-decomposed pike. Pretty much every walk would end with someone hosing her down in the back garden. We used to buy those family-sized bottles of cheap shampoo and keep one out by the outside tap.

True to her breeding she'd also retrieve things. And, true to her training as a gundog she wouldn't drop them until you had a firm grip on them and took them from her. Fine if it's a pheasant you've just shot; not so great when it's a long-dead, rotting, and slimy rabbit carcass. We could never break her of this habit. She'd got the idea in her head that you don't let go of the thing you've retrieved until someone takes it from you, and that was that. How they train these animals to be guide dogs I'll never know. They're beautifully sweet-tempered but as dim as they come.

She'd also run upwards of half a mile just to jump into cow's drinking troughs, stagnant ponds, muddy puddles, the effluent from silage pits... anything wet. She loved the water. She'd retrieve rocks as big as her head from the bottom of streams, squeaking with excitement while she did so. And she'd leap into rivers off of bridges. She never hurt herself doing that - god knows how - but about once a month we'd have to take her to the vet to get her patched up where she'd charged full tilt into a barbed wire fence while chasing something.

She was a bloody legend. She lived to be about fifteen without slowing down at all or losing any of her unsavoury habits, and died in about 1990. I still miss her now.

Length? She was about... ooh... four feet nose to tail?

(, Wed 13 Jun 2007, 0:31, Reply)

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