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RIP Monet, a Very Special Rescue Cat

FOR MONET: LOVE WITH A CAPITAL “L”

May 2000—January 2015

Monet enjoying (supervised) time in the garden

Monet enjoying (supervised) time in the garden

I was Love with a capital L. Love and light. My human named me after her favourite painter, Monet, who painted his impressions of sunlight with loose brush strokes. She thought I was like a white canvas dabbed with the odd brush stroke of colour, including the pale blue of my magical eyes. She said I, too, was a work of art.

Monet as a kitten; his colouring got darker as he got older.

Monet as a kitten; his golden patches got darker as he got older.

I was born to a stray with yellow eyes, so my brothers’ blue eyes and mine must have come from our mystery father. He might have been a Ragdoll; like that breed we were all gentle and super-relaxed. And I got along with everyone. Because I was Love with a capital L.

But I wasn’t especially brainy or athletic. And once I left kittenhood behind, I wasn’t much interested in wrestling and playing tag with the other cats, or chasing little balls and pouncing on toy mice.

In fact, when a real mouse turned up in our home (I guess it wasn’t too brainy either, picking this house of all houses!), the other cats went crazy trying to catch it, while I watched and wondered what all the fuss was about. And if they’d caught it—the human helped it escape outside—I probably would have tried to cuddle it. Because I was Love with a capital L.

Monet & Higgins

Monet & Higgins

When the human took on a small foster dog for two weeks—all the dog rescue people were full up—the other cats were not happy. Some hid the whole time, others hissed and spat at it, even though the dog was known to be very good with cats.

I was nervous at first, because I’d only ever met a couple of dogs in my life, and that was just for a few minutes each time. But I didn’t hiss—I’m not sure I knew how. Purring was my strong suit, purring and cuddling. By day three, I had curled up beside the dog and fallen asleep with him. Because I was Love with a capital L.

And that’s what I did best. Being sweet to other creatures. Curling up in my human’s lap and purring. Gently touching her arm over and over again as she poked away for hours at something at her desk. Looking up at her with my blue eyes full of affection. And I loved to gently head-butt her and the other cats. It was my way of saying “I am here, and I am so happy you are too.”

Monet comforts Bandit

Monet comforts Bandit

I purred and gave comfort for nearly fifteen years including, just recently, to my friend Bandit in his last days. When I got sick and it became too hard to breathe, I finally couldn’t purr anymore. But just moments before my pain was ended, I managed to raise my head and gently touch my human’s face with mine.

Because I was Love with a capital L.

A Canadian Best-Kept Secret Close to Extinct

What’s small, mighty, and almost extinct? Sadly, the answer is right in our Canadian backyard.

Those of you who know me and my music know that I’ve already written a song about the rare Canadian Horse, or cheval canadien — the only horse breed to have developed in Canada. I used to own one, and in fact there’s a big section of my website devoted to this breed — see http://marielynnhammond.com/LegacyCanadians/1098841.htm

While there are only about 6,000 Canadian horses alive today, that breed is  practically thriving compared to Canada’s only known pony breed, the Newfoundland Pony, which is in many ways the pony equivalent to the Canadian: smart, strong, sensible, versatile,  and well adapted to its rugged climate. Experts estimate that fewer than 400 exist, with perhaps only 250 of those able to breed. To help promote the breed, I’ve written a song about it, which is now available on my CD HoofBeats. Here’s a video I made of my song about the pony that shows many fine examples of the breed; lyrics below:

MY NEWFOUNDLAND PONY AND ME

(lyrics, M-L Hammond; Music, M-L Hammond/Tom Leighton, ©2011)

Note: This song is set in early 70s, not long after the Newfoundland government passed a law declaring that the ponies, which had roamed and grazed free until then, had to be fenced in. Many Newfoundlanders could not afford the costs of fencing and feeding their animals. This, coupled with increasing mechanization of farming and other work, meant that the ponies were sold off by the thousands, mostly to be slaughtered for meat. But a small group of devoted breeders are working to bring the pony back from the brink of extinction.

CHORUS:

Diddle-ee dye-di dum, diddle-ee dye-di day

we were born on the Rock, of hardy stock, and the Rock is where we’ll stay

with the cliffs and trees and the foggy seas, diddle-ee dye-di dee

oh, together we’re grand, my Newfoundland pony and me

 

Vs 1  My pony he’s descended from more breeds than I can tell

like the Highland, Welsh, and Exmoor, and the Dartmoor and the Fell

that came here with the settlers for to work this rugged place

and now their blood has joined to form a new and sturdy race

CHORUS

Vs 2  My Prince he stands about 13 hands, he’s a handsome brackety* grey

and when I hitch him to the plough he’ll pull and pull all day

He’s hauled logs from out of the woods and kelp on the beaches too

His heart’s as big as Conception Bay, there’s nothing he won’t do!

CHORUS                                                                                          

Vs 3  He’ll pick his way on a rocky ledge and never slip or fail

and when I’ve had a drop or two, he’ll keep me on the trail

He’ll take my boy to school at eight and come back on his own,

and then we send him out at three and he brings the laddie home!

 

BRIDGE: Our ponies used to roam at large and graze along the way

but now the law says fence them in and pay for feed and hay

So folks are buying tractors now while the ponies disappear

But I swear by the moon and the snows in June, old Prince he’s staying here!

 

CHORUS :

Diddle-ee dye-di dum, diddle-ee dye-di day

we were born on the Rock, of hardy stock, and the Rock is where we’ll stay

with the cliffs and trees and the foggy seas, diddle-ee dye-di dee

oh, together we’re grand, my Newfoundland pony and me (2)

 

* brackety: Newfoundland dialect for spotted, dappled