• Jean

Our first fur baby

As told by Jean

The Famous Phoebe of Long Island was one of the many four-legged kids we had over the years. I’d love to share a few stories about our other fur-family members so you can get to know Phoebe’s siblings and the amazing memories that each one left with us. These “tails” also explain how Phoebe’s predecessors impacted how Frank and I came to be such eccentric animal parents.


When we met in 1980, I knew right from the start that Frank would be my life partner. I was right. We recently celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.


In 1982 Frank and I got our first apartment, and our journey together began. Alice, his mom, was moving to Florida, and she couldn’t take the family cat – Baby Jocko – to her new home. Baby was found when Frank was in high school, so by the time Alice was moving, he was about 6 years old and had been with Frank’s family for almost as long. Frank was heartbroken. He pleaded with me. He loved his Baby and couldn’t stand the thought of giving him away.


Now, I am a crazy animal lover. I grew up with a collie and was friendly to all animals, pets and strays alike. But there was a huge problem that could have destroyed our budding romance: I was terribly allergic to cats.


So, anyway, having said that: Yes. OK! I gave in!


I must admit, he was such a tiny, soft, 8-pound boy – and he was hard to resist. We took little Baby Jocko to our new apartment (it was a “No Pets” residence, but that’s another story). I had to insist that because of my allergies, Baby Jocko was not allowed in the kitchen or in our bed. Frank agreed.



Fast forward about a week or two after my sweet Baby moved in. Yes, you heard me right:


My sweet baby.


If there was ever a cat that could convert a non-cat person to a feline lover, Baby Jocko was the guy. He was such a mush.

Nonstop kisses.

Sleepy snuggling.

And, he had a delightful temperament.




When Frank came home from work, Baby followed him around the house meow-ing. I still believe that Frank understood him. Along with the meows, I often overheard the human side of the conversation…

“So, what did you do today, Baby?”

“Did you have fun?”

“Really? Then what happened?”


Years later, conversations with Phoebe often reminded us of Baby’s frequent meowing. Our two talkers, who (just ask anyone who knows me) talked as much as their human mom!


But wait! What about my allergies?


It’s the funniest thing. Baby Jocko did not bother my sinuses, throat, or eyes at all! We will never know if I simply outgrew my allergies… or was there a more transcendent reason for my cure? In any event, instead of destroying my blossoming relationship with Frank, this wonderful cat came to live with us, and we became a happy, love-filled family. Miracles happen? Love conquers all? Hmm…


We were so silly. We laughed and loved. There was a entire fantasy world built around Baby. We called him our Miniature Rare Breed Lion Cub (another story…). He had imaginary friends like Shelly the Turtle and Billy the Duck. Frank cooked baby burgers and baby bacon for him. He flew a baby plane. We loved our silly first fur child with all our hearts.

Here's Frank and Baby Jocko on our first boat, The Foolish Pleasure.

(Disclaimer: The boat was dry-docked in our driveway at the time)


Baby Jocko lived into the mid 90’s. He had to be at least 23 years old when he passed. I so very much wish he had the opportunity to know Phoebe. I can imagine them talking to each other nonstop. No doubt they would have been best furry friends (BFFs).


Next up: Larry the Cat joins the family.


Tell us about your first furry kid below!


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