Timmy, The Brawler

Today’s post comes from Steve.

Timothy Gruncheon Grooms, born in a barn in Iowa, was adopted into my family in 1946. He was officially my sister’s cat and always seemed to understand that. Although she did things to him that were beneath the dignity of any cat, he slept each night in the crook of her arm.

Timmy was a fighter. My parents had never heard of a cat being confined, and they would have been appalled at the suggestion pets should be neutered. So Timmy was a free-range tomcat who roamed the neighborhood fighting with other cats and filling the world with orange and white tabby kittens. All the fighting he did caused Timmy to have a fat face because so much scar tissue built up on his cheeks. His ears were riddled with cuts and holes. I did witness one epic encounter in our backyard, Timmy relentlessly chasing another cat, and I was shocked by the violence of it all.

Timmy obviously lost some fights. Once he came home with a chunk of tissue the diameter of a nickel missing from his left cheek. Our vet gave us a spray to keep the wound clean, but our dog had a better idea. Danny, a sweet golden retriever, began following Timmy, licking that wound. Danny and Timmy never had physical contact before or after that incident, but Danny licked Timmy’s wounded cheek until fresh skin formed over the hole.

My sister bonded with Timmy as if he were her child. As I recently wrote, she dressed him in doll clothes, including a bonnet. She plopped him on his back in a baby stroller and went about the neighborhood with him that way. The set of Timmy’s ears were a clue to how he felt about this, but he accepted it all. When Nancy’s fascination with medical issues led her to subject Timmy to some treatments, including an enema administered by eyedropper, he put up with that, too.

Timmy was the most remarkable athlete I’ve ever known. Two stories established his legendary status.

Once our family was in the dining room watching television (eating Swanson’s TV dinners on our TV trays). A bat entered our home and began flying from room to room. Timmy was sitting on a braided rug in the middle of the dining room. As the bat wobbled through the dining room a second time, Timmy shot off the floor like a jack-in-the-box, snatching the bat midair. To my eye, Timmy’s leap took him five feet into the air, and it could have been higher. With the bat in his mouth, Timmy went to the back door and asked to be let out.

In our last home in Ames my mother kept her precious chinaware in a cabinet by the front door. Timmy’s way of letting us know he wanted to be let out was jumping to the top of that cabinet. One afternoon he did that, just as he had countless times before. Timmy, from the floor, could not see that my mother had filled the cabinet’s top with stacks of china. My mother screamed in terror when Timmy walked to the cabinet and launched his leap. Once he was in the air, Timmy saw the china and performed a desperate midair gymnastic maneuver. He managed to land with his four paws in the tiny openings between the stacks of teacups and plates. Standing there, Timmy was unable to move, and he let out a dismayed yowl so we could rush to his rescue.

By 1964 our family, Timmy included, was living in Wayzata, Minnesota. He acquired one annoying habit late in life, crawling around inside the family Christmas tree in the middle of the night, eating tinsel and knocking glass ornaments to the floor. Timmy still lived much of his life out of our sight, and he still got in fights. His health declined. My sister, who was then a student at the University of Minnesota, fell in love with a young man, and they soon got married.

In 1965 Timmy disappeared for four days. We feared we would never see our 19-year-old cat again, but at long last he dragged himself home in terrible shape. He clearly had lost a big fight. Stroking his scarred old head, my mother had a heart-to-heart talk with him. “Timmy, old guy, you have been Nancy’s baby all these years. She is now married and will soon have a baby of her own. You look like you’re at the end of the line, but I’m asking one last thing of you. Can you keep it together a few more months? Can you keep alive until Nancy’s new baby arrives?”

Nancy’s baby arrived in August. A few days later, Timmy died.

Timmy was a vivid character in our family life for nearly two decades. Have you ever had a pet with a distinctive personality?

43 thoughts on “Timmy, The Brawler”

  1. Our two Welsh Terriers were full of “personality”. One decided that the ironing board was its nemesis, and would attack it whenever I brought it out of the closet. If I managed to get it set up, she paced around the board and whoever was ironing, eying the board for any movement and then attacking it again as it was folded and carried back to its lair. I had to replace a few ironing board covers because of rips and tears from terrier fangs.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    Steve, this is just such a welcome post after all you endured in the last 3 months. I looked at this and thought, “He is back!” Your cat got an enema?

    We had a little rat terrier from 1956-1959 who was all personality. Scouty had the run of the little town we lived in, as was the practice in those days. She begged, she did tricks, she moused and she accompanied me on many adventures in my Annie Oakley world of adventures (red cowboy hat, six shooters). A nasty drunk in a black pick up ran over her, killing her in front of me. I was about 4 years old. My parents were furious, but this guy did such things. He was gossiped about as a problem in town.

    My parents and I had a funeral in the back yard, saying the Lord’s Prayer and singing Jesus Loves Me. My dad rocked with laughter during the entire ceremony. Then we placed a wooden cross over her grave. RIP Scouty.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. That’s a terrible story about seeing your cat run over, Jacque. I didn’t tell the story, but Timmy got run over too . . . with my mother and maybe someone else there to see it. Timmy disappeared for a while, then came back with no apparent long term injury. The kid who hit him seemed more hurt than Timmy. He stopped, apologized and cried.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh God, now you’ve reminded me of my little dog, Rocket. Named after the BSA Road Rocket. I still want one……
        The whole litter was different. Rocket was a miniature black and white collie with spaniel ears. Even with those daft ears, she was SO pretty. Stan Tucker’s farmyard was in the village, the house fronted onto the main street, and most of their ground sloped away behind. I’d left my BSA Golden Flash there (Yes, I’d had a collie named Flash ), and walked over with Rocket, Blue(BSA BLUE Star, I’ve got one), Red(Ariel Red Hunter, I want one), and Tubby(BSA Gold Star, I’ve got the frame for one), to fetch it. The dogs could run along with me, home.
        We left the yard, and set off in the wrong direction. OK, we must have been going somewhere else, I forgot that. They all tore about, and I saw Rocket having the time of her life charging down the road, looking over her shoulder. Getting hit by a Landrover. The poor guy was very upset, she came from nowhere. I said, no, it was entirely my fault. Rocket was in a bad way, I don’t remember that part and don’t want to. Art Snell, Peter’s older brother was there, and I asked if he’d shoot her right now. He didn’t want to, life’s full of surprises. He went and got Grady, but as they were walking back with Grady’s twelve bore, she mercifully died. I took her right down Stan’s lane and buried her. A very, very bad day. We lived a rough and readylife and I lost several dogs in that kind of circumstance. A lot of grief over the years.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Timmy was a great character. People who don’t have pets miss out. I’ll steer clear of Nancy if she’s holding an eyedropper though. That last part was a tear jerker, well you know me by now, Steve.
    We’ve had some characters. Fred came to us from the grass drying plant. The guys said to Jane’s dad, “Mice? Fred’s your man, you should have seen that HUGE rat he had the other day” It was wall to wall Devon boys, that place, that word would have sounded like this:”OOOJ.” Giving you some local flavour. Liars. Fred’s occupations were sleeping, purring, and fighting. John and Sandra left the farm, and moved beside a busy road. So we took him and Angel on. Angel was utterly beautiful, and another character. But this is about Fred.
    Jane and I got another mattress and took it up the stairs to our studio flat. We put it on top of the other one, because that one belonged to the landlord, and there was nowhere else to put it. We went back out, to get other things, and brought them up. After a bit, we said “Where’s Fred!?” Then we saw a bump in the middle of the mattress. He was under there, still purring.
    Jane was away studying, and Fred, Angel, and my dog Connie, would sleep on the bed. I liked the company. One night, Fred settled down on the pillow, with his forehead pressing against mine. I thought, he’ll stop purring in a minute, and we’ll all go to sleep. And he purred, and he purred, and he purred. He went on, and on, and on. And on. My skull got so it was vibrating so much, I thought maybe we’d got the whole building vibrating. He just kept on. I was tired, but I had to move, just a bit.
    But when he wasn’t doing all that, he was out looking for a fight. He found plenty, he fought every single day, and mostly won, I think. I don’t remember a lot of injuries. To him.
    But when he got old and sick ( and people will claim their cat was over twenty, but we pieced things together, and he actually was), he had to have an X-ray finally. He was in a bad way by now, I forget the ins and outs. There were two. 22 pellets in him from years ago. Maybe to do with him being a stray. Country boys for you.
    He kept fighting, and dragged himself up to fight one of our other cats the day he died. Jane went to work in tears, and came back home in tears, unfit to work. She was the boss. I finally said one day,” You’re in charge there, aren’t you? There’s no one in the building that’s in charge of you? So who sends you home?” She said “The girls. The girls send me home.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I liked the bit about the lump in the middle of the bed. My erstwife and I spent two summers clerking in a fly fishing shop in northern Wisconsin. We brought our cat Pippen along, who was a city apartment cat that had never set a foot in grass. The first summer Pippen hid for three months, showing himself only as a lump under the cover of a bed. There were people who seriously doubted we had a cat. All they had ever seen of him was that lump. The second year . . . a total reversal, but that’s another story.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The terrier with the ironing board issue also loved to steal socks. Our son was about 3 at the time, and whenever I would give him a bath, the dog would creep into the bathroom, grab one of his doffed socks, and swallow it whole. It would remain in her gut for about a week, and then she would hurl it up. The sock was intact but somewhat faded due to terrier stomach acids, so I just washed it and put it back in son’s sock drawer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Girl after my own heart, Renee. I guess if he did the same to them all, they’d match.
      Hmmm, by the way. I was going to go ahead and send this, but. My brother told me off when I referred to my sisters as”The girls.” He said that it points to a disrespect, maybe a dismissal of women. Far from being the case, and I yelled back at him. But I see his point, and assure you, NO disrepect.


    2. Ewwww! I knew a Visla that swallowed mittens. It didn’t go as well as in your story. The first mitten blocked his intestines and cost over a thousand bucks to fix. A week after that operation, the Visla ate a second mitten.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was walking and talking with the Visla’s owner as she described the first mitten-eating event. Up ahead of us about fifty yards away, someone found a loose mitten. The Visla approached her. We heard her say, “Oh, you like mittens? Here’s one for you.” The roar from my companion came seconds too late. I think the vet cut her a deal so the second operation wasn’t quite as costly.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Our own Timmy is not a fighter. I encountered him in the dark two weeks ago, and he bit my left calf muscle, in a fury about something. “Cowardly swine”, is the old fashioned English expression. I’ve seen the doctor for the second time, and he said it was looking good. But I’m still limping, and it hurts when I’m tired. But Timmy’s nice enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It should be obvious that my parents were raised in a totally different world with respect to pet ownership. Today we neuter our pets and train them and take responsibility for what they do. My dad and mom wouldn’t have dreamed of doing any of that. Pets were fed, but after that they pretty much did what their nature led them to do.

    My dad took our golden retriever duck hunting, never having trained him. Danny was a golden retriever, and they hunt . . . or so my dad thought. When Dad fired a 12 gauge shotgun over Danny’s head, Danny lit out for the car and hid under it. Dad told the story often, thinking it was about Danny’s inability to hunt. He didn’t understand the story was all about his shocking ignorance of how to work with a dog.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I, too, think about the difference in pet care from when I was a kid to now. Our dog Humphrey, he’s been to the vet more than I go to the doctor. We call him our ‘Delicate Flower’ but he’s a sweetheart. And I think about how, other than rabies shots, none of the dogs I had until this last batch, hardly ever saw a vet.
      “Farm Dogs” – not to say there wasn’t any sentimental feelings for them, and maybe it was just like all of us back then; we did all sorts of crazy thing and we shouldn’t even have lived, but there we were. Maybe because they were outside more, we didn’t see the issues, maybe we just figured they’d either get over it or it killed them.

      I saw the milk truck run over one of my dogs… the dog was one of those that just chased everything. And he stumbled and he was trying to get out of the way… just couldn’t get his footing again. The driver felt terrible too. I knew it was an accident.

      I was 3 or 4, when our big dog named ‘Pal’ died. I went out to play with him and found him out behind the outhouse (we were saving the outhouse for when we lived in the machine shed while the new house was being built) and I ran crying to my sister Joanne. I remember that.

      Bailey, one of our current dogs, buries her treats and other goodies she finds on her own. Never seen a dog do that before. And in the summer, she buries things in one of Kellys flower pots. That isn’t appreciate so much. Maybe if we had just a pot of dirt she’d use that one?? Save the flowers perhaps?
      In the winter she buries things in the snow…

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I saw one of our dogs killed by a car. I’d gone running in the neighborhood at 5 AM, a time when few cars were moving. I brought my wife’s dog, Pukka, along so she could get exercise. I thought I had verbal control over her, but Pukka got distracted and entered the street in front of a car. Died instantly. My wife and I were not prepared for the level of anguish we experienced. One good thing came of that. As we reflected on how overcome with grief we were, we decided it might be time to bring a child into our lives. Which happened about 16 months later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had my heart “broken” by girls many times. But just after I met Jane, Red, the last of my family of dogs, mother, brothers, and a sister, died of natural causes. The first one not to die violently, but it was still sudden. It had been just me and him in a caravan in a field, and I felt as if he was the whole bunch wrapped up in one. I really did think, my heart was literally going to break. I didn’t see Jane till next day. She said later she’d never forget the look on my face.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Long story short, and to bring those who know and care up to date, and there is a cat in it.
    PART 1 MY SON: he moved to Idaho not so much by choice on Feb 23, 2020. New area, new job, surrounded by hate-filled politics and arrogant stupidity. Obese and fights depression, inherited from me. After 3-4 months there by accident they discovered tumor on left kidney. Took a while to get surgery done because mess that is Idaho Medical care. Took out kidney, six months and 3 weeks ago. Some of you will recognize the number 6 months. Things looked good. College roommate now oncologist up there in Cities told him he had gold standard of cancer, but still a slight risk. Meanwhile stress from job, from ex-wife’s situation (That would be a long and weird tale) and depression drove him to eating and he put on a lot of weight. Finally got to see a depression therapist (Big jam up everywhere in getting to see one) who is helping and he is working with a nutritionist which is going well. Please do not judge him. Therapist agreed he, a cat lover from way back, needed a companion animal despite being against building rules to have pets.5 weeks ago he got a rescued, presumed feral, kitten, tuxedo cat (so maybe he now is Mr Tuxedo) with, get this, a moustache, which is appears sometimes on tuxedo cats. Tiny then more than doubled in size in a month. Cute, lively, just what he needed.
    So 3 weeks ago went in for 6 month check up. Called and said he had a mass on his lungs, a likely place to spread. But could not do second scan for a week. He called and demanded earlier. This was a Thursday. They got him in at 5 on Friday. Had to wait for Wednesday to hear results. Dr. Told him they were all sure it was cancer. But second no-dye scan showed it was on the back of the lungs and was a fat deposit. So glad he had his Tuxedo, Neon, named by his son, through all this. And held to diet through all the stress.
    PART 2 to come if I can get it done.
    Pardon errors hands and eyes are worse now.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Good to hear from you Clyde – don’t worry about errors. I double check and have good eyes and still can’t avoid them.
      Thanks for sharing! Glad Neon was around!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hey Clyde good news bad news about your son sorry to hear about all the stress but glad to hear that the results are coming back in with less than the worst case scenario
      I appreciate your going through the pain and trouble of typing good to hear from you and I hope there are some good tidbits to write about and upcoming days weeks months

      Liked by 5 people

    3. PART 2 too long to tell but because of variety of things being on me much of last Saturday my back would not hold me upright. Slowly a bit better


  9. Our son’s cat is a tortie who will bite and scratch if you try to pet her with your hand, but who will swoon with delight if you scritch her with your toes. She lies at our feet as we sit in the livingroom, going from person to person for foot scritches.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Our daughter’s tuxedo cat had to be bathed three times in one day last month after he developed a fascination with the flippy lid on her kitchen garbage can. He loved diving in the garbage can making the lid swing, even if it meant he got covered in tomato sauce.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’ve had six dogs in my life. Not all of them were “characters.” Indeed, one was lazy and devious, and I gave her away to someone whose standards were more lax than my own. My first dog only lived a few months before dying of a twisted bowel . . . ironically the same issue that kicked off my recent string of medical adventures.

    Danny, the golden retriever of my youth, was a friendly, happy, sociable character. The word everyone wanted to use for Danny was “gentleman.” He was as polite as he was good natured. He was a better dog than anyone in our family deserved.

    Spook, my first setter, was the most honorable character I’ve known, human or canine. He had a code of conduct that still awes me. Smart, persistent and loving, he was the dog of a lifetime.

    And yet another dog was and always will be my dog of a lifetime. Brandy, my first springer, was the dog who taught me so much about pheasants that I wrote two books based on what she showed me. Brandy and I were too much alike, deeply flawed but eager to make up with effort what we lacked elsewhere. Brandy and lived as if it could not be possible to have too much of a good thing, and we often paid a price for that.

    Three incredibly great dogs. I have been so fortunate.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. All of my cats have had distinctive personalities. Sammy was an especial favorite in the neighborhood, since he would walk with me, on a leash, or not. He would sometimes veer off to conduct an inspection of the underside of someone’s porch, but mostly he was content to just walk with me. People commented on Sammy. He made an impression, trotting along beside me. He didn’t mind snow, but didn’t care to get his paws wet if it was slushy.

    In the last years of his life, he didn’t care very much to walk much further than the front yard. He sniffed around the porch a bit and checked out a patch of grass that he liked to graze on, but then he wanted to go back in the house. His wanderlust faded over time. He was probably nineteen or twenty when he died.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I remember my wild bunch lying outside in the snow one time, as if it was the place to be. I can still see little Rocket sniffing the air happily, while I cowered inside. It was freezing out there.


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