I keep inadvertently wanting to call him Ragamuffin. Ragamuffin was a little yellow stray that we adopted in Indy many years ago. He came between Pippin and Raisin. We only had him a couple weeks or so; he was shot by some neighborhood hoodlums. He looked so much like Cuthbert.
So, lemme see -- the roll of pets from my adolescence.
When I was a child, we had Macavity and Maynard and Timothy and a couple others. Maynard used to walk each group of schoolchildren from one end of the block to the other twice a day; she lived to meet collinsmom before we married. Then there were Faust and Cantleberry in college; Faust made the move to Wilmore with us. Then came Pippin, a great mouser, and eventually our children's first grief. Then Ragamuffin. Then came Raisin, a black cat with a white ring around his tail (it had been caught in a door or something when he was but a kitten, and after falling out, the fur came back in white). Then we acquired Quicksilver. Then Fuji. We moved all three cats to Odon, then the latter two to Terre Haute. Fuji lived on and on, finally dying last year at this time at age 20 1/2.
In Fuji's declining years, we acquired our first dog, Sassafras -- although collinsmom had a border collie named Tuffy(?) when we met. And now we have Cuthbert, too.
Jesus said something about our being worth many sparrows -- but he still as much as said that God cared about the sparrows, too. And so, while I refuse to be one of those people who value animals as much as -- or more than -- people, nevertheless I believe our pets are a sacred trust from God and a training ground for love.
One of the most moving images in The Great Divorce -- to me -- is when the simple woman from Golders Green appears surrounded by an entourage singing her praises for her goodness on earth.
"And who are all these young men and women on each side?"
"They are her sons and daughters."
"She must have had a very large family, Sir."
"Every young man or boy that met her became her son -- even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter."
. . . "but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat -- two cats -- dozens of cats. and all those dogs . . . why, I can't count them. And the birds. And the horses."
"They are her beasts."
"Did she keep a sort of zoo? . . ."
"Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them."