Friday, November 26, 2010

Other People's Castoffs

by Nancy

"One man's trash is another man's treasure." How often have you heard that? Maybe you know someone--or even are someone--who can go to a yard sale, buy the clunkiest looking bunch of stuff, and turn it into something gorgeous. I suspect such people are related to the ones who actually know what they're doing when they browse the aisles at Michaels.

They're the same people who can go to a flea market or an estate sale, buy a moldy old piece of furniture for a song, and refinish it so that it regains its former beauty. Or buy a fabric remnant and turn it into gorgeous curtains or throw pillows or placemats. Or find something in a consignment shop that not only fits but looks as though it had been made for them.

Some castoffs don't need refurbishing, like the copy of Silver Chief, Dog of the North (picture book edition) I found on the internet and bought because it reminds me of sitting and reading that book with my grandfather. It was someone else's castoff, but it's now my treasure.

Of course things aren't the only castoffs. People and animals also can be. Nora Roberts' Chesapeake Bay Saga is about four castoffs. The heroes of the initial trilogy are three men adopted as abandoned, abused adolescents by a college professor and his wife and molded into a family.

Now their mother is dead, and their father has taken in another abused stray--who may or may not be a blood relative. On his deathbed, he demands that they keep the boy, Seth, and they promise they will. Now these three happily single men with very different goals must remake their lives to provide a suitable home for a troubled, wary boy.

In the story arc of the first three books, they untangle the mystery of Seth's background and, of course, find true love. What starts out as a promise to their father becomes something they want to do for Seth. They come to treasure this boy who so desperately needs a family. (Seth later got his own book, Chesapeake Blue, and dealt with his abusive mother decisively)

Each of our dogs has been someone's castoff, too. As newlyweds, we adopted our first out of an ad in the paper, "Free to good home, 7-year-old golden retriever." We'd thought of going to the pound but realized neither one of us could be happy to come home from there with just one dog, or even just two, but were more likely to end up with a small pack.

This dog's family didn't feel they had time for her since they had a toddler and a newborn. We visited, saw how great she was with the toddler, and figured if they were crazy enough to give her up, we'd take her. She graced our lives for the next nine years and was the boy's much loved companion in his early life.

Anytime he was on the floor as a baby, she was between him and the rest of the room. Walk out of the room with him, and she would heave a mighty sigh, drag her aging bones up, and follow. If he ran a fever as a toddler, he liked to snuggle up against her while he waited for the medicine to bring it down, and they napped together.

Our second dog was a casualty of marriage. His owner's bride didn't feel their small house had room for two goldens, our guy and his mom, so the dogs became yard dogs (never a happy fate for a golden retriever). Then they decided the mom was too old to tolerate the extreme heat outside and brought her in, leaving our big guy outside alone.

He was terrified in thunderstorms, huddling under his doghouse, and bored the rest of the time. So he did what bored goldens do--he escaped. Unfortunately, he also visited a female dog down the street with er, productive results.

So he went up for adoption through a rescue group. Our golden girl had just died, and our house felt horribly empty, as houses do when their resident pets are gone. He quickly settled into our routines and became dh's devoted shadow, my daytime guardian, and the boy's happy playmate.

He was lonely, though, having lived with his mother most of his life, so we got another dog from the rescue group to keep him company when we weren't home. She was a golden retriever/Irish setter mix (we think), a pound rescue who had spent a lot of her time chained in a yard. We had to work on breaking her toilet-drinking habit, but we eventually prevailed.

She was zany while he had the demeanor of an Edwardian gentleman, and they made quite a pair, a true study in contrasts but with sweet, loving hearts.

One of the boy's proudest days in elementary school was when his dad and I walked the dogs up to the school for show and tell and all his classmates adored them. Being retrievers, they reciprocated. The boy's little chest puffed out like a balloon.

Unfortunately, our zany girl died of cancer. We gave her, and received in return, six years of love, but they ended too soon. Not long after that, some friends considered adopting a yellow lab from a teacher who was going back to school and couldn't give the dog the time she needed. Some of you will recognize her picture from earlier blogs.

Our friends decided they couldn't take her because their yard wasn't fenced, but she seemed like she would be a good companion for our lonely, grieving old guy. And she was.

Six months later, she became loving consolation for us when arthritis sent him across the rainbow bridge. She seemed to like being an only dog after he was gone, and so we just had her. This summer, as any of you who saw me the Thursday of National know, she died unexpectedly that morning, after surgery. We were devastated. This time, there was no warm, furry companion to bump up against us and ease the loss. Our house again felt empty and much, much too quiet.

We couldn't understand how anyone could give up such loving, sweet creatures. These dogs were all castoffs but gave us great companionship and joy.

There are, and probably always will be, lots of dogs who need homes. In September, we adopted a golden retriever whose owner had surrendered her to a rescue group. The owner's house had burned down, and she was heartbroken that she had no place she could keep her three beloved goldens. So one of them (along with her stuffed toy) has come to us, and the house doesn't feel so empty anymore.

Yes, we let her on the furniture. The lab had the unfortunate habit when she came to us, and we didn't have the energy to stay on her 24/7 and break her of it, so the precedent was set. With doggie scent on the cushions, merely telling this one to stay off wasn't going to do it, either. So we've become resigned. And have again delayed re-covering the couch.

We're all still getting to know her and vice-versa, but we can tell she's going to be a treasure for us, too. Even if she does have an unfortunate tendency to cruise the kitchen counter and sees trash cans as her toy boxes. *sigh* We're working on that.

Some of you may remember that bandita Donna MacMeans contributed a story to Lori Foster's Tails of Love anthology. All author and agent royalties from the book go to support the Animal Adoption Foundation, a no-kill shelter in Ohio. This seemed like a good book to feature today, considering the theme of this blog. This is a collection of romance novellas featuring animals.

Have you ever taken a castoff and made it a treasure? Ever marveled at how someone else did? Ever tossed something you later wished you hadn't (which is the reason I so rarely toss)? Do you have a favorite story a hero or heroine who was a castoff?

On a different tack, if you hit the Black Friday sales today, what's the coolest thing you found?

I'm giving a copy of Sea Swept to one commenter and a copy of Jeanne Adams's fabulous Deadly Little Secrets, seeing as I happen to have an extra, to one commenter. You have to answer at least one of the questions, though, to qualify.


Daz said...

Happy Friday!!!

Daz said...

My husband and I have travelled a great deal as a result of his job. We've moved countries and cities multiples times. At one point, it became necessary to give up our dogs. We were going to the Middle East. Much too warm for long haired furry dogs, especially in the summer. Unfair for those darling pets of ours. I put them for adoption and they were adopted by a young family with children who wanted pets. I cried for a week after they were gone.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Congrats on the chook, Deanna!

Nancy, what a gorgeous post. I got quite teary reading it. It's wonderful the love our animals give us, isn't it? And I LOVE those Nora Roberts books. I still think they're my favorites of hers. I cried when I read them too!

Kim in Hawaii said...

Happy Black Friday! Just got back from Thanksgiving Dinner with our neighbors. In some respect, military families take in cast offs ... we always make sure the single airmen, geographic bachelor, or the family of a deployed service member has somewhere to go for Thanksgiving.

We "inherited" five cast off cats back in Maryland ... or should I say five free spirits chose to live with us. We found homes for three and brought two to Hawaii.

Military thrift shops are a treasure trove of cast offs! It is fun to see who is getting rid of what when trying to reduce the weight of household goods. Their discarded stuff is a storybook of where they have lived and what they have seen. I've replaced broken Hard Rock Cafe glasses from around the world with donations to the Thrift Shop!

But I enjoy sorting through the books donated to the thrift shop -I've found a few vintage books with library stamps across the US. They remind me of those who served before me.

Helen said...

Well done Deanna he is back in the heat have fun with him

Loved this post and all the pictures of your furry family life isn't the same without a dog or 2 LOL. Sadly we have lost 2 of ours this year and now only have 1 Brandy who is getting old but has such a sooky personality.

We have rescued many dogs and cats over the years from the pound and yes normally come home with at least 2 everytime we have been there. When the kids were young we rescued a cross dashound who had been found wandering the streets near the City we called him Prince and he just loved the kids my son especially they would roll around the yard together and went everywhere together we also adopted a cat named Tom about the same time as we got Prince and they too became fast friends sleeping together and playing really well.

As for picking things up at junk sales etc I have lots of friends that do this sort of thing but me no although I do have a habit of hanging onto things just in case LOL.

Have Fun

Jane said...

Hi Nancy,
Can't say I've taken a castoff and made it a treasure. I'm a hoarder, so it's hard for me to understand how people can throw away perfectly good and usable things. I do regret tossing a few of wooden Christmas ornaments that we bought for our first tree. They were cheaply made, but I wish I had still had them for the memories of our first Christmas tree.

Sheree said...

Hi! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Ready for Black Friday?

My family had a golden when I was growing up. After my sister had successfully lobbied to get a dog (she wanted a golden), my father found out from a coworker that he had to give up his golden due to asthma. So, after spending one night at the pound, the dog was taken by his people to my home, much to his dismay (he was willing to play with us kids but was frantic when he realized that he had to stay with us). Still, after the initial bumpy start (he bit my cousin and took out his frustrations on my poor shirt), he was a great dog, one of my parents' "children". My mother was particularly distraught over his death although the entire family was in a fog of sadness. I think he was so much part of the family that he was the reason my parents never had another dog.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Nancy -

Wanted to make one correction. The stories in TAILS OF LOVE are fictional - not stories of authors and their pets. They're more like romance novellas with animals involved. But the royalties do go to a very worthy cause. It's easy to see the love the authors have for animals in general in the stories.

We lost our beloved pound rescue a couple of years ago. I'm inclined to get another. but I haven't convinced my husband yet that life is better when you carry dog/cat hairs on your clothing whereever you go (grin).

In other news, I'm sad to report that KILLER, our animated personable snail, died. I think a change in water just didn't suit him. Not sure if anyone has rescue snails, but we're looking (grin).

Minna said...

Do you have a favorite story a hero or heroine who was a castoff?
Yeah, it was written b Laura Wright. Now if I could just remember the title...

I haven't gone to a fleamarket for somee time, but I do plenty of swapping stuff by mail. It's a good way to replace your trash with treasures! *g* But my best swap still is the one I made with one of my neighbours. I had bunch of plastic beads and stuff that was basically, trash to me, and she had a HUGE amount of yarn she didn't need. I tunrned most of that yarn into all kinds of useful stuff. And I swapped some of that yarn and some of that stuff I'd made for books, stamps, candy...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh! I have that book and our lady Donna autographed it for me! I was very happy.

Happy Black Friday everyone, did anyone here brave the ugly retail madness this morning? Just for the record, I don't do retail madness, I have a girlfriend that does though and she got a laptop for 198.00 happy for her of course but I can't handle that craziness.

Have you ever taken a castoff and made it a treasure?
Both of my cats, or I should say all of my cats were rescue cats. I have lost three of them over the years, I don't mean I misplaced them, they died or were killed. I have two at the moment and one (the youngest) was a feral cat. His name is Shadow (son named him), and he is solid gray and due to his nature tends to stay in the shadows even now and we have had him two years.

Ever marveled at how someone else did?
I had another girlfriend that could do that and she was a wonder, furnished her whole house with castoffs and they were beautiful when she was done.

Ever tossed something you later wished you hadn't (which is the reason I so rarely toss)?
Many times, most recently was a bed frame that I didn't think I would ever need since I only have two bedrooms and had two twins and two full bedframes. Yeah, that was a mistake, I really needed the full size and it was gone, or at least the bedrails were.

Do you have a favorite story a hero or heroine who was a castoff?
Actually there are several, not that I can recall the titles to mind but the premise of the story was a genteel lady lost her parents, the cousin who took over the title didn't want her and wouldn't help her, she became a companion to an elderly woman who turned her into a swan. The ugly duckling so to speak.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Nancy, what a lovely blog! I really admire your generosity to all of these castoffs. Loved the Chesapeake Bay series, too. I think those were the first books of Nora Roberts I read and they're still among my favourites.

Both our dogs came from the animal shelter. You're right--it is very hard to choose just one and my dh was extremely taken with a mad bitser by the name of "Dave" because he knew no one else would want that dog. Unfortunately, Dave was terrified of men, so we couldn't take him. I have a feeling Dave wasn't cute enough to find a home but I hope somehow he managed it.

Congrats on the rooster, Daz!

Anna Sugden said...

What a lovely post, Nancy, and how nice to meet your fab furry babies.

All of our cats have been cast-offs and rejects. Most of you know, we always adopt black or tuxedo cats because they're the last to be adopted and are most often abused. We love them!

We also love hunting through charity shops, fairs, markets and second-hand book-stores for those gems. Hubby is more skilled than I am at making things look great, as is my step-d, but I have the eye!

I'm another terrible hoarder! But occasionally, during moves and a divorce, things have gone missing, been stolen or lost. *sigh* hate that!

Hey - I just worked out - hubby and I are both cast-offs too - we found each other and made a perfect whole!

Gillian Layne said...

My mom always ends up with castaway animals, because they live on a farm. Our cat is from a litter of castaways we took care of. They make the best pets! :)

Nancy said...

Daz, Happy Friday to you, too, and congrats on the bird!

I'm so sorry you had to give up your dogs. Sometimes people do, as with the golden girl we have now, and I don't think of those dogs as castoffs. It's the earlier ones we had, whose owners could've kept them but didn't, I see that way.

The woman who gave up our lab kept her other one, just felt the one she gave up, which she'd had since puppyhood, was "so needy."

When we notified the rescue group that this current adoption was working out and we considered the dog (and her stuffed toy) ours now, the adoption coordinator emailed back that she was letting the original owner know "because she's been so worried," and that broke my heart.

Nancy said...

Anna, thank you. I got a bit teary writing it. I just discovered these books of Nora's this summer, and they're already among my favorites. The guys are very different, but they're all just great.

Nancy said...

Kim, happy Black Friday to you, too. I love your tradition of taking in people for the meal. My parents always did that. I grew up in a college town, and my mom worked at the college. We frequently had students at our table who couldn't go home for Thanksgiving.

You wrote: Their discarded stuff is a storybook of where they have lived and what they have seen.

How cool! I would love to poke around in such a place.

Nancy said...

Helen, I'm so sorry you lost your dogs. That's always so painful.

I admire you and Hubby for going to the pound. We would've, had we thought we could manage to control ourselves.

Nancy said...

Jane, I'm a hoarder, too, a genuine pack rat who thinks whatever I throw away, I'll need desperately before long. The dh, otoh, believes in pitching stuff promptly. We kind of balance each other.

I kept a couple of plastic ornaments my folks always used, but I got rid of some books that belonged to my grandmother I now wish I'd kept.

Nancy said...

Sheree, it's always sad when people have to give up their pets. I'm glad your golden was able to settle in.

You mentioned Black Friday. Are you going to, or did you, brave the crowds?

Nancy said...

Donna, I'll go in and fix that on the blog about Tails of Love.

LOL about the snail! The boy actually kept some water bugs for a few years. He got a fish in a little aquarium at a workshop when he was in grade school. The fish died, but there were snail-like things in the plants in the water. The boy wanted to keep them, so we continued to buy the plants. The snails multiplied for a while and then mysteriously died off.

Nancy said...

I fixed the blog description of Tails of Love and, inspired by the comments, added a Black Friday comment question.

Nancy said...

Dianna, I envy your girlfriend. I don't have whatever gene lets a person buy something that has been discarded and ramp up its appeal. I suspect this gene is related to the accessorizing gene, which I also lack.

The ugly duckling story sounds great. If you think of the title, let us know.

I've heard adopting feral cats is a real challenge, that getting them accustomed to people can be difficult. How was Shadow when you first got him?

Nancy said...

Minna, if you think of the book title, let us know.

Sounds like you're really good at recycling.

Nancy said...

Christine, thanks. At a B&B where we stayed in Devon, the family had a yellow lab they'd gotten from the RSPCA. She had been terrified of men at first, but their family was mostly women, so they were able to take her. Maybe a nice single woman or a mostly female family took Dave.

When we next stayed there, several years later, the lab had died, and they had a rescue greyhound, which had its own armchair in the parlor.

Nancy said...

Anna, LOL about you and the dh both being castoffs!

We had a black and white cat across the street for a while. He roamed the neighborhood and seemed very car-savvy. Those neighbors got all their pets (four cats and two dogs) from the pound or the Humane Society. They had to give up the dogs, though, because they kept escaping.

I didn't know that about black and white cats. Do you know why people do that?

Nancy said...

Hi, Gillian--Having a farm would make the temptation to rescue hordes of animals that much stronger. All our castoffs have been great pets, all housebroken and past the chewing stage, though our golden guy regressed to that at the end of his life, which was a bit baffling.

Nancy said...

When we adopted our first golden and took her to the vet, he said, "I'm glad to see someone adopt one of these older dogs. Most people don't want them." That has stuck with us all these years.

The life expectancy for a golden then was 12-14 years, and she lived to be sixteen. We expected five years with her and got nine, in part because we were able to cope with her increasing arthritis problems.

But still--five years with a sweet, loving dog would've been a pleasure.

This time, the boy wanted a dog that, in the normal course of events, would be with us through his college years, so he could come home to a dog he knew. But we have in the back of our minds the idea that, when she settles in a bit more, we might adopt an older dog, one that's maybe 8 or 9 and needs a forever home.

We'll have to see how she does, whether she can rub along well with a dog she didn't grow up with, but it's in our minds.

Cybercliper said...

I'm pretty well shut in until after this weekend. I wouldn't get out with the shoppers if they were giving the stuff away - crowds really freak me out :-)

My DH is really great at turning someone's junk into treasure. He's built a work shed using materials folks have thrown into dumpsters or set out by the road in their trash piles.

As for me, my Aunt and I love to quilt. So we go to thrift stores for unusual patterns and textures in old clothes. We cut these up to use in our quilts.

Christie Kelley said...

No Black Friday shopping here. I hate the crowds.

I'm not creative enough to take someone else's castoff and make it a treasure. I have adopted a few stray cats over the years but that's about it.

After looking in my basement this morning, I've decided that come spring, I will have a garage sale to get rid of some of the old toys and cloths.

Anna Sugden said...

Re the black and tuxedo cats, Nancy, I think it's all about superstition. Over here, although black cats are considered good luck, there is the whole witch's cat thing. In the US, I believe people think they're unlucky and there's the witch's cat thing too.

People are cruel too - which is why you won't see black cats being available for adoption during October and into mid-November, because they do horrid things to black cats over Halloween.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Nancy said...
I've heard adopting feral cats is a real challenge, that getting them accustomed to people can be difficult. How was Shadow when you first got him?

To quote a phrase my grandmother used "Nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs."
Just catching him was a challenge. I was on the porch and saw him narrowly miss being hit by a car, just a little bitty fellow. My son and I kept trying to coax him to us but he wasn't having any of it, thank you very much. He always hung close to my house though, under my porch, greeted me every evening when I came home then torpedoed back under the porch. I just knew we were going to find him hit by a car. I finally told my son we were going to catch him one way or the other, got a large box and covered up one end of my porch then ran water under it, out he came like a flash and my son was waiting with the box. Once we got him inside all "H" broke loose, I mean literally bouncing off the walls, my other cat Angel (no, she isn't, a total misnomer)basically just laid down on him. Gave him a bath and boxed his ears for him. We had to really watch the door for a long time but now he just looks outside if the door opens, doesn't even attempt to go outside.

runner10 said...

I am always amazed at how my friend can refurbish old furniture and turn it into a beautiful piece. I am not that talented.
Hope you have a great weekend.

jo robertson said...

Oh, Nancy, what a lovely, moving post. I can just imagine the wonderful times you've spent with your goldens.

We had a black lab who was the most beautiful dog I'd ever seen when our kids were younger. I'm mostly a cat person, but I understand how loving and smart dogs are, how loyal and devoted to their owners. Cats, after all, are highly independent a tend toward snobbery LOL.

I love garage sale-ing with my daughters. We've found some great treasures. A recent one was a complete doll house (Fisher-Price) with all the dolls, furniture, and accessories. Our granddaughter loves to play with it when she visits every Tuesday because she doesn't have one at home. It was a great deal for $10.

jo robertson said...

I also wanted to comment on how sensitive dogs are to human frailities. Boyd's sister passed away last week from pancreatic cancer and her daughter's dog, who lives upstairs, stayed by her side the moment Marlene was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, until the day she died.

I've read several studies about how dogs seem to "sense" when people are injured or sick and are very companionable during these times.

jo robertson said...

Kim said, " In some respect, military families take in cast offs ... we always make sure the single airmen, geographic bachelor, or the family of a deployed service member has somewhere to go for Thanksgiving."

Kim, how wonderful! My dad was career army and we ALWAYS had someone(s) from the military base over for holidays and Sunday dinners. Of course, we two teenaged girls thought that was pretty cool, too! But my sister and I weren't so philanthropic.

jo robertson said...

It's 10:30 a.m. here in NorCal, so I'm trying to decide if it's worth facing BLACK FRIDAY out there! I hate crowds, but I do enjoy BF when I have NOTHING I want or need and I'm just browsing.

Does anyone know how and when the name "Black Friday" came to be? A trivia question to answer! Yay!!

Minna said...

I'm not sure, but I think it must have been Baby & the Beast. Maybe I shoud add it on my wishlist. BookMooch is such a good place when you try to find books that are out of print. And anyway, I read it in Finnish first, so there was about 20 pages missing from the story.

...I also turned some of the Christmas paper you wrap around the packages from last year and some cardboard for instance from chocolate box into Christmas cards! Need any of those? *g*

Joan said...

Killer the snail is gone??!!!!

Well, maybe he passed peacefully,drinking a margharita with a nice salted edge.


Mistake, bad mistake.

Nancy, as you can well imagine I read your post from a whole different frame of mind than I would have had last year. My two little baby cats have changed my life. They adore me and I them!

Your babies may have been "castoffs" but it sounds like they were given opportunities by people who recognized they could not care for them...instead of tossing them out a moving car like a little border collie here in Louisville. (Major injuries but on the mend)

And yes, the Chesapeake series of Nora's is awesome, among her finest work IMHO.

I actually did venture out mid morning to Black Friday. Traffic and crowds weren't nearly as bad as I'd thought they would I got a primo parking space!

And I believe it's called Black Friday because of all the shopping done on this day puts retailers "in the black".

Now off to write...

Nancy said...

Cybercliper, I'm in hiding, too. I'm not going anywhere. I might venture out Sunday morning, maybe, but not to a mall. No way on that.

Your dh's shed sounds great.

We have a couple of friends who're quilters, and they make beautiful things from scraps that seem like nothing. I wish I had the patience to do that.

Nancy said...

Christie, I'm with you on the shopping thing.

Good luck with the yard sale.

Nancy said...

Anna, you're right about the black cats/bad luck and witch associations here in the US. Not being a cat person (I'm allergic), I wasn't aware of these Halloween-related adoption issues.

Some people are just freakin' nuts.

Cassondra said...


You and the rooster....I dunno about you two...

Nancy said...

Dianna, what a great story! I'm so glad your persistence paid off.

When we were first married, there was a white feral cat in our neighborhood. He was very car-savvy and even managed to hole up safely somewhere when a hurricane came through. You couldn't get near him, though.

We called him Nemesis because he used to curl up outside our fence and pretend to sleep while the dog barked madly at him. He seemed to delight in making her crazy.

We have a Christmas ornament of a white cat sitting by a hearth, which we bought in honor of Nemesis.

Nancy said...

Runner10, I am not that talented, either. If only.

You have a great weekend, too.

Nancy said...

Jo, that doll house sounds like a great garage sale find.

Our lab had a more exuberant personality than our goldens. She delighted in speed and movement. If she got a running start out in the yard, she could leap the patio and the steps to land in the hall, skidding down it and careening around the corner into the kitchen.

When she was younger, she liked to leap up and down in front of anything she wanted. She could go from a standing start into a vertical jump with her back feet higher than her head had been. I'm not sure even Michael "Air" Jordan can do that.

The dh liked to say she had only a passing acquaintance with gravity.

Nancy said...

Jo, I loved the story about your niece's dog. I heard a similar one about a friend's cat staying with him while he was dying of AIDS. It really is like they know.

I've heard Black Friday is so named because the volume of business that one day suffices to push stores into the black for the year. But I don't know if that's right.

Nancy said...

Minna, we have Christmas paper galore, but thanks.

I think it would be frustrating to not have the last 20 pages of a book.

Cassondra said...

Nancy, what a great blog!

It's wonderful to see the dogs who have meant so much to you and your family. And the boy was so cute when he was little!

Most of our dogs have been castoffs. Our first dog, Houdini, was shivering in a ditch when the daughter of my (then) boss drove by and found him. She brought him to the photo shop where I was working, and as Steve and I had just gotten married and our apartment allowed pets, we took him. He was with us for about 12 years before he crossed the bridge.

Then we got Bismark--the only dog we've ever paid for. He was an enormous rottie, and was the biggest teddy bear you ever cuddled. Well...if Teddy bears slobbered, he'd be one.

His "wife" came a few years later. Sweetie was also a rottie, but was a castoff because she had a bum leg. Several surgeries wouldn't fix it, and her show dog owners needed a home for her. We were it.

We've been through a few other dogs, and even bred rotties for a while--several of our granddogs have won big awards.

Now we have German Shepherds. All of these dogs have come to us as castoffs.

Steve's crow, Thor, was a castoff--his parents couldn't keep him after Katrina forced them to move. And now I have a white dove, obviously lost from its domestic upbringing--who flew into my bedroom window one afternoon in search of a new home.

One cat was a stray found in a Captain D's parking lot, and another was the result of a stray who delicate condition... to a friend's back door.

All of our castoffs have changed us--and all for the better.

Heck...even our house was sort of a castoff. Built in 1849, it was in bad shape, and most people would probably have torn it down and started over. *sigh* Not us. We pledged to save it....

And we're still trying to save it. I suspect this one will be with us until WE cross the rainbow bridge.

Cassondra said...

I have not read the Chesapeake Bay series, but based on this, I think I need to go and get it.

Nancy said...

Joan, I still hate that story about the dog on the freeway. Some people really should be horse-whipped. Yeah, our dogs were lucky that there people didn't just dump them. Some of the dogs that come through the rescue group, though, are strays, apparently abandoned.

You went out today? AND got a parking place? Wow. You're braver than I am.

Nancy said...

If the Black Friday/retail success link is a myth, at least JT and I have both heard it. :-)

Cassondra said...

Dianna said:

Happy Black Friday everyone, did anyone here brave the ugly retail madness this morning? Just for the record, I don't do retail madness, I have a girlfriend that does though and she got a laptop for 198.00 happy for her of course but I can't handle that craziness.

Those deals on laptops are the only thing that has ever tempted me to do that. But no, I've never done the Black Friday thing. I'd hate it. I shall have to go on paying full price for my electronics I guess. Or maybe I could pay somebody ELSE a fee to go camp out and buy those for me? I'd still get ahead I think.

Nancy said...

Thank you, Cassondra. Of course I think the boy was cute when he was little (and still is), but I love hearing it from other people. *g*

I've always loved the stories of your dogs. When the boy was a tot, the Carl books (Carl is a Rottweiler, for those who haven't seen them) were among his favorites. He reveled in the adventures Carl and the baby had under the noses of the apparently clueless parents.

Your blog about Thor was great, but I didn't know about the dove.

We love old houses, too (ours dates from 1934, a mere infant next to yours), but they surely can be money pits. Just think how fabulous yours will be when it's all done, though!

Nancy said...

Cassondra wrote: Or maybe I could pay somebody ELSE a fee to go camp out and buy those for me?

Now, there's a thought!

Cath's Chatter said...

Hiya, great post....I LOVE Nora Roberts. The first books of hers I ever read were about a family of witches and so my paranormal romance addiction began!!
I have an awesome lounge chair that I used to sit in to nurse my youngest 2 girls which I now snuggle up in to read in my sunny spare room, the arm chair was a cast off when my folks moved house about 9 years ago:)

Nancy said...

Hi, Cath, and thanks. Do you remember which trilogy that was of Nora's?

I started my post-school life with castoff furniture from relatives, and we still use two of the armchairs and my grandfather's coffee table. The dh has a beautiful old table in his study that belonged to his grandfather.

Nancy said...

We have a beautiful set of castoff dishes, the dh's grandparents' wedding china. When his grandfather closed up his apartment, he sent the dishes (and the table mentioned earlier) to us because the dh is the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son, etc., stretching back into the mists of time.

The dishes were actually part of the dh's grandmother's dowry. I'm sort of afraid to use them, though, because I'm afraid they have lead in the glaze.

Cassondra said...

Anna Sugden said:

Re the black and tuxedo cats, Nancy, I think it's all about superstition. Over here, although black cats are considered good luck, there is the whole witch's cat thing. In the US, I believe people think they're unlucky and there's the witch's cat thing too.

People are cruel too - which is why you won't see black cats being available for adoption during October and into mid-November, because they do horrid things to black cats over Halloween.

Anna, we got a second cat last fall because after our old boy, Max, crossed the bridge two years ago, our girl, Amon, was lonely. I decided I wanted a black cat because I'd never had one, and also because I remembered what you'd said.

We had a hard time even finding one. There were NONE at the shelter here, and we waited until a friend had one in a litter (The mother was a stray and pregnant when she showed up at the friend's back door one day)

Apparantly they don't have those same issues with people not wanting black cats down here. I wonder if that's regional to where you lived in the States? I would worry about the black cat/Halloween thing anywhere though. We always bring our animals inside and keep them there pretty much constantly through the days surrounding Halloween.

On a side note our Humane Society has gotten completely out of control here. There's a lady running it who doesn't have a lot of common sense, and wonderful families are being turned down to adopt pets just because she doesn't like something about them. She'd rather anesthetize the animal than give them out to good homes, it seems. Which I think is horrid. Something needs to be done, but around here it's very political.

Nancy said...

Cassondra, this woman doesn't seem like one the greater Humane Society organization would want in charge. It's too bad local politics are keeping her in place.

Cath's Chatter said...

Hi Nancy
I still have them!!!
Captivated, Entranced and Charmed were published in 1992 and then Enchanted was published in 1999 as the 4th book in 'The Donovan Legacy' by Silhouette Books ♥

EilisFlynn said...

The best castoffs are the ones who snuggle up next to you. All ours are gone (Fido the last, at age 20, back in February), but their spirits remain.

Joan said...


If it is associated with the National Humane Society, I would report your concerns. That's a private organization and other than internally, should not be political.

Report her. Now.

Nancy said...

Cath, thanks! The only witch ones I could remember were the Three Sisters Island trilogy.

Nancy said...

Eilis, I love snuggly castoffs, too. Yours were very sweet--and nice enough to avoid smacking my allergic nose with their tails when they were in my lap.

jo robertson said...

Nancy said, "I've heard Black Friday is so named because the volume of business that one day suffices to push stores into the black for the year."

I remember a time when there WAS no Black Friday. I think it started somewhere in the mid-sixties, but was confined to the east coast and then spread.

Since Black Tuesday was the big crash of the NY stock market in 1929, I just wondered.

PJ said...

Beautiful post, Nancy. I cried all the way through. ;-) My dogs have all been someone else's castoff and my treasures. Each one has brought immeasurable joy to my life.

I didn't buy a single thing today because I've been working since 3:30 this morning. I just got home about ten minutes ago. I'm amazed that I'm even functioning considering it's 4:45pm and my alarm got me out of bed at 2:00am!

Nancy, please exclude me from the giveaway. I have both books (love them!) and would rather give someone else the chance to discover how terrific they are!

Nancy said...

Jo, I couldn't swear that's right about Black Friday, just that JT and I both think so.

Nancy said...

PJ, thank you. I know you're a dog person, too.

If you went to work that early, you must be about ready to fall over! I hope your evening is quiet and relaxing.

Thanks for letting me know you already have the books and for telling us all you liked them.

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Daz! You have the Big Kahuna of all Cast Offs - The GR !! He keeps getting cast off and he keeps finding his way home!

My crew are all castoffs. The Idiot Brothers - Clyde and Zorro were dumped on the side of the road with their sisters Boadicea (Bodie) and Velvet. They came as fosters five years ago. Did I remember to tell you that I have "Sucker" tattooed on my forehead in symbols only dogs and cats can read?

Boudreaux is my basset hound rescued from a flooded house in New Orleans after Katrina.

Vito, a long-haired chihuahua, was tossed out of his home because he was terrified of the girl's boyfriend. I have a sneaky suspicion there was a reason for that.

Frodo came to me at the age of four weeks after his Mom attacked him and her other puppies (not the motherly type to be sure!) I took him in to help with his medical care and never let him go.

I've had quite an assortment of rescued animals - castoffs - in my 52 years. They are ALWAYS a treasure, they always have something to teach me and they always live in my heart.

Nancy said...

Louisa, another dog person! You have such a wonderful assortment of pets.

About Vito being so timid--our lab was afraid of anything that sounded or looked like hitting. If I held the hand mitts so the boy could punch them, she got very anxious. We were always afraid there might've been a reason for that, too.

catslady said...

I loved hearing about your dogs!! I have made my home a refuge for feral/stray cats. (I have had two wonderful dogs too but both puppies from the pound). At the moment I have ONLY 4 cats inside (had 7 at one time) and 3 outside (2 for over 13 yrs.). This was a bad year for me - I lost a 15 yr. old outside feral and 15 and 13 yr. olds. My dearest cat was rescued when he and his mother were covered in motor oil. She left him on my doorstop at 4 or 5 weeks old and I fed him with a babydoll bottle and he grew to be my largest and lord of the manor. I have so many good memories and can't live without them.

Nancy said...

Catslady, thank you. I'm so sorry for your lost cats. Animals really leave a gaping hole when they go.

It's great that you provide refuge for cats who so badly need one.

Leni said...

I've bought many items that people have donated and am very found of what I've found. Mainly decorations or supplies that can be used in one way or another. The items are more special to me than anything that I've purchased from a department store. So far I haven't given away anything that I've regretted.

Deb said...

Nancy, Shary came to see what I was doing a second ago, saw the pics here and loved them. She is very much a dog-lover.
I don't really recall any castoff and turned it into a treasure. However, my uncle and my gramps used to go "junkin'" almost every Saturday for old car parts and such. They would literally rebuild cars from the parts.

I did hit the stores later today which is unusual for me on Black Friday because I really do. not. like. to. shop... I found big, old-fashioned outdoor multi-lights at a little store and have already strung them up along our front porch railing.

Nancy said...

Leni, I do occasionally regret giving things away. However, I often find that I can part with things more easily after a little time passes.

Nancy said...

Deb, thanks. I think turning old car parts into a working vehicle definitely counts.

I'm glad venturing out into the shopping crowds yielded something you can use. We put lights out at Christmas, and I'm working on persuading the dh and the boy we need to spread that from the porch rail to the bushes.

Cath's Chatter said...

Hey Nancy
You probably already know but she has several other para/supernaturally themed trilogies which are very good also
The ones that come to mind are
The Key Trilogy
The Circle Trilogy (awesome)
The Sign of 7 Trilogy
and I know there are a few others of the same vein.
The only books of hers I haven't read are the ones under her pseudonym JD Robb, they just don't do it for me for some reason:(

Nancy said...

Cath, thanks for popping back with the list. I've read those trilogies, but others here may not have. I loved the Sign of 7, just devoured those books even if they did scare me, then re-read them all. The Pagan Stone was just fabulous, I thought. I carted it to Orlando to get Nora to sign it.

I came to the books the other way around from you--started with J. D. Robb and then branched out to Nora Roberts.

Barbara E. said...

I used to volunteer at a no-kill shelter, adopted one cat and a year later I couldn't stand that this one little girl was still there as all the other cats around her had been adopted. She was very shy and never came out of her shell until the last month of her life. She did have her buddy, the cat I adopted first, and they spent a lot of time cuddled together. As she was getting weaker, she wanted my attention and spent more time with me, walking up to me to be petted. I feel good that she had a loving home for over 11 years instead of being left at the shelter. I lost her at age 13 a few months ago.

Nancy said...

Barbara, what a wonderful story about your cat! I'm so sorry you've lost her, but it sounds as those you had beautiful years together.

Crianlarich said...

Lovely to see you highlighting Tails of Love.

The anthology benefits a wonderful cause, helping the neediest and most grateful animals.

TOL would make a fantastic Christmas gift. Hint, hint, hint....

Go pets!