Top Ten Tuesday – Remembering Alfie

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books Featuring Animal Best Friends

Sometimes I struggle with the idea of what information is “suitable” for this blog. How much information do you share? And is it even necessary? When I started Confessions of a Book Geek I tried to keep a clear line between bookish opinions and “real life” thoughts, but those lines eventually blur. A blog is practically an extension of you as a person and we regularly pour our thoughts and feelings into it, so I’ve decided it’s appropriate to share. Yesterday my cat, Alfie, was hit by a car and sadly didn’t make it. I was surprised by the effect this had on me. I’m not just upset, I’m devastated. I wasn’t going to participate in TTT today, in fact I would have been lucky to write a post at all this week. But I’m already finding this pretty cathartic. In honor of Alfie, I’m dedicating this week to the Top Ten Books Featuring Animal Best Friends – because anyone who has ever loved an animal knows they are so much more than a pet.

Harry and Hedwig1. Hedwig from Harry Potter: Everyone knows I can’t make a list without including Harry Potter in some capacity, so I doubt this comes as much of a surprise. I hadn’t read many books featuring owls as pets, or any birds really, but Hedwig warmed the hearts of the nation and caused many tears to spill when she made the ultimate sacrifice for her best human friend. Hedwig was given to Harry by Hagrid as a Birthday gift in his first year at Hogwarts and she stayed with him throughout all 7 books. The eerie and beautiful Harry Potter theme song is even called “Hedwig’s Theme”.

Marley and Me2. Marley from Marley and Me: Confession time – I’ve never read Marley and Me, in fact I didn’t know the movie originated from a book (even though all movies seem to these days), but I’ve seen the movie and bawled my eyes out at it multiple times. Marley is a handful, in fact he could be considered the worst trained dog in history but with buckets of charm and personality. The movie tells the story of the lifetime of a young couple, from marriage through parenthood, focusing on the bond (including the ups and downs) of family life with a mischievous but lovable dog. If you haven’t seen this, I insist that you do, with a full box of Kleenex at the ready.

Fat Louie3. Fat Louie from The Princess Diaries: In the book series Fat Louie is described as being orange and white and weighing 25lbs, and in the movie adaptation Fat Louie becomes a black and white beauty who is Mia Thermopolis’ best friend and trusty companion. In the third book, Mia leaves instructions on how to care for Louie when she is visiting her Grandmother in Genovia. According to the list, Louie is a fussy eater who gets bored easily and he has a collection of shiny things hidden in the bathroom that he thinks Mia doesn’t know about. Mia declares that she will never love anyone as much as she loves Fat Louie, and in the seventh book when she lists the people she loves? Fat Louie is number one.

Pan Northern Lights4. Pantalaimon (Pan) from Northern Lights (His Dark Materials Series): Bit of a more fantastical animal companion with this one. The story is set in a world parallel to ours and in this world, humans’ individual souls naturally exist outside of their bodies in the form of daemons – animals that constantly accompany, aid, and comfort their humans. Children’s daemons can willfully change their appearance to any animal, settling on one permanent animal form once the child becomes a teen. The bond between Lyra (the protagonist) and Pan (her daemon) is perfect, and probably one of the highlights of the book. 

Stuart Little5. Stuart Little from Stuart Little: Stuart Little is a smart and funny young mouse, who in the book, is born to a human family in NYC. In the movie, Stuart is adopted by the family, and his best friend Margalo (a bird) disappears and he sets off on his own to find her. First published in 1945, Stuart Little was adapted for the big screen in 1999, which would have made me 9 when I watched it. Stuart Little tells the tale of finding yourself in the world, of figuring out where you fit in and of the importance of family.

Black Beauty6. Black Beauty from Black Beauty: Not originally intended as a children’s book, Anna Sewell’s classic was penned to, “induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses” in a time when the horse transportation industry was anything but. The book tells the story of Black Beauty’s life; from a well-cared for carriage horse, to a cab horse, to an overloaded and nearly blind work horse and finally to a farm where he retires as the pet of three sisters. Black Beauty witnesses great acts of cruelty and compassion throughout his life, this is not for the faint-hearted.

Lone Wolf7. The Wolves in Lone Wolf: Lone Wolf focuses on the story of Luke Warren, a man so passionate in his love for wolves. he put his human life on hold while he went to live among the wolves in the wild. His family-unit is disrupted and his marriage crumbles as a result. Cara (Luke’s daughter) stays with her father and Edward (Luke’s son) flees. The story focuses on the family and loyalty aspect of the wolves as Luke is accepted into their pack, but the story takes a surprising, emotional and devastating twist that focuses on difficult decisions to be made regarding quality of life, morality and legal justifications. This book is based on the true story of the wolf researcher Shaun Ellis (Wolfman).

Winnie the Pooh8. Winnie the Pooh (Rabbit, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Gopher and Owl) from Winnie the Pooh: Possibly the best known and most loved animal characters in fiction-history, Winnie the Pooh was created by A. A. Milne for his son, Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin enjoyed visiting a bear in his local zoo called Winnie, and named a stuffed bear after his childhood captive friend. The original story was first published on December 25th 1925 and most of the other characters are also named after Christopher’s stuffed toys.

Free Willy9. Willy from Free Willy: Originally a movie released in 1993 which then went on to become a book, Free Willy tells the story of Jesse, a troublesome 12 year old boy and Willy, an Orca Whale that is captured and held captive in an amusement park. Jesse and Willy strike up an unlikely bond, and when the whale is treated badly by the amusement park owner, Jesse and two other characters come up with a plan to release Willy back to his family, who they can hear calling for him. This movie is one helluva tear jerker, but is definitely worth watching.

Thought I’d leave this last spot open for a pretty special guy, maybe no one has written a book about us, but he is a big part of my story…

10. Alfie

alfie

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65 comments

  1. I am sorry to hear about this loss. This list is such a great tribute. I’m also quite partial to Hedwig, and I will have to check out Marley and Me. I’ve been avoiding Marley and Me for years knowing that I’ll need the tissues. Thank you for sharing this list!

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  2. I’m so sorry. I lost my cat quite suddenly a few months ago too, so I understand. Whenever I think about animal best friends, I always think of Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go which always makes me want to hug my own dog.

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    1. The sudden losses are worse aren’t they? Alfie was barely a year old too, it was just hugely unfair. I’m sorry to hear about your cat, people who aren’t cat-owners don’t seem to understand how special they are to their owners. I haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go yet, I’ve been going back and forth with wanting to read it, though I didn’t realise there was a dog in it until today. I’ve been told it’s quite different, but that it’s also aimed at the Middle Grade age range, so I’m not sure what to think anymore. Thanks for your comment. R x

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      1. I’m not sure what that means. Aimed toward middle grade? I suppose the protagonist is on the younger side of the ya spectrum but even then he would be more high school age, but I don’t believe the issues explored in the series are ‘middle grade’. If you’re on the fence, I’d recommend checking the first book out from the library. That way you don’t have to make the decision to buy it before you’ve read it.

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      2. I’d either read a couple of reviews or seen some YouTube videos where it was described as a Middle Grade book (an american term) for books aimed at the tween age-range, think The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Princess Diaries age range. Perhaps they assumed because the protagonist was that age that’s who it was aimed at. I am still on the fence, and I definitely don’t make use of my local library enough, think I will borrow it 🙂 I’m re-reading all of TMI series first, and I then have to finish The Book Thief. But once they’re done I’ll get stuck in. Why can’t we read as a full-time job?! R x

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    1. Thanks for commenting. Marley and Me is so sad, but it’s such a good movie too – Marley was such a great dog and it really was a celebration of the man-dog relationship. I guess it proves the point that the good parts make the sad parts worth it, which is kind of what I’m trying to remember at the minute. R x

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  3. I am so, so sorry! What an adorable cat. I share my home with two wonderful cats and can’t even imagine that kind of loss.
    I actually tend to steer away from books featuring animals because I get so upset when reading about animal deaths–but I have read and loved Stuart Little!

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    1. I think “cat-people” definitely understand the loss more, I’m pretty sure some people think I’m slightly insane for being so upset. The nine I managed to list today were all the ones I could think of, I don’t tend to read about them either, I’ve seen more movies focusing on animals and pets. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. R x

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  4. I’m so sorry to read about your loss 😦 Animals are such special parts of our lives. They’re almost like another member of the family! I’m glad you found it cathartic to write this post. I absolutely loved Marley and Me. I actually preferred the movie, but it did make me cry! I think Hedwig is a great pet too. Great list!

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    1. Thank you. They definitely are a member of the family – my dad has always been more of a dog person and he’s as cut up as I am, Alfie had bags of personality, dad even taught him to play fetch. He’s sorely missed. I wasn’t going to write the post, but it felt wrong to not acknowledge him somehow. Thanks for commenting R x

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  5. So sorry to hear about your cat, I have a cat myself and I love her to bits. I lost my eldest cat, who was only 11, when she suddenly got very sick over a few hours and it turned out she had kidney failure and had to be put down. It’s so sad because they become such a big part of your life that it’s hard to adjust to them being gone. I think it’s a lovely idea to dedicate your post to him.

    Out of all the ones you have mentioned my absolute favourites are Hedwig and Pantelaimon, I wanted to own both when I was little (totally still do!).I also loved the wolves in Lone Wolf, Marley and Free Willy. Great topic this week and sorry again.

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    1. Hi Charnell, thanks for commenting – I had a cat called Cuddles (I got him when I was 4, which is supposed to explain the name), he had kidney failure too when he was 14 and similarly to your cat it came on quite suddenly. We tried to get him treated and he held on for a few weeks but we were told his quality of life would be poor and it would be kinder to have him put to sleep. It took me nearly 5 years to be “ready” for another cat, and when Alfie came along it was just perfect, he had the perfect personality for our house and was a complete gem, so to only have him for nearly a year is just too cruel. Me and dad keep looking at the window-ledge where he used to sit, and we had to move the fruit box he used to sleep in (he wouldn’t use ANY cat beds, he liked cardboard boxes and paper bags?!).

      It’s great you agree with so many on my list – I too wanted a Hedwig (and a Hogwarts acceptance letter…)..

      R x

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  6. I am absolutely so sorry about your cat. I know how hard it is to lose a member of the family like an animal, and ugh… it’s so hard. Sending you big hugs & loving this tribute to Alfie. I wish more books had memorable pets! (I did like the dog in The Beginning of Everything.)

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    1. Hi Estelle, thanks for commenting. It is hard, will take some time to get the chin up again, been a rough few days. Thanks so much for your kind words. I think the same – books (and TV shows/movies) could do with more pets. I spoke to a friend recently about how many TV shows lacked pets and it wasn’t very realistic, but probably easier for the cast and crew. R x

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  7. Oh no, I’m so, so sorry! 😦 I love your list, but I will say I do avoid books with animals in if I know (or think) something bad happens. It’s way to heartbreaking for me, and hurts too much. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. Sending lots and lots of virtual hugs your way 🙂

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    1. Hi Alma, thanks for your comment. I’m beginning to see why people do avoid those types of stories! Sometimes creates more feels when pets and animals die in books than when other characters do. Appreciate the hugs, the community has overwhelmed me today 🙂

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  8. I’m very sorry to hear about Alfie.
    This is such a great idea for a Top Ten Tuesday because so many people don’t realize how important our pets are to our every day lives. It’s wonderful to see these friendships in literature.

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    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment, I completely agree – in the past two days the comments I have had varied from people who completely understood just how much I loved Alfie being very kind and understanding (mostly pet/cat owners), to some people saying, “Get another cat”, literally a few hours after I found out he had died when I was still unashamedly bawling like a baby. Relationships and bonds with pets are definitely very special. R x

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      1. Jumping in on your little thread here because I saw you saying that people were telling you to just get another cat and that’s just so… not the thing to say. I’ve lost a few beloved pets in my life. And while eventually, sure, giving another pet a home can be wonderful, it has to be when you’ve mourned and grieved the loss. You can’t replace Alfie. He’s irreplaceable. I always find it so strange when people don’t understand that!

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      2. I 100% agree. Some people have at least said it in a nice way but I’m definitely not ready yet. I’ll just feel like I’m betraying Alfie somehow and I’ll constantly compare the new cat to him. Wouldn’t be fair. I definitely think I will give another one a home someday, I’m definitely a cat-person, but not any time soon. R x

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  9. I am so sorry, Rachel! I know how hard it can be to lose a pet; they’re part of your family and it seems unfair when something like this happens. I’m glad your blog can help you mourn.
    Fat Louie! I think he’s my favorite on this list! Of course, I love Hedwig, too. I definitely teared up when she died. Love your list. I hope that you’re okay. ❤

    Here's my TTT! I did British books I wish more Americans would read. 🙂

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    1. Hi Stefani, thanks so much for commenting. I’m still in the angry/sad stage at the minute, definitely feeling the unfairness of it all. I was lucky I could type through the tears to be honest, but I felt a little better once I had posted the blog – it’s like he’s been commemorated somehow now, and I plan to get those photos framed. Of course, the blogging community’s response has been fantastic, I can see why people love this supportive community so much! I loved Fat Louie (and Ann Hathaway) in the Princess Diaries movies, I thought it was a brilliant adaptation. And I was very emotional about poor Hedwig – Rowling can be cut-throat when she wants to be! I’d have found that difficult to write as the author. Thanks again for commenting, R x

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      1. I understand the angry/sad stage. I had something like this happen to me with one of our dogs a few years ago. It was horrible. It’s hard to believe at first, for sure. I’m glad you were able to commemorate him this way!
        I would have found writing that about Hedwig super hard. I’m sure she struggled to do it, but she felt that had to happen.
        Of course! I’m sending you happy thoughts. 🙂

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  10. What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. Made me cry. So sorry for your loss. My best friend is my Tilla, also a kitty, and I already know my world is going to come crashing down when she leaves me. They touch our lives for such a short time and to have that time cut short is so devastating. I hope you find peace soon. Great list too, we often forget what an important role animal friends can play in a story.

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    1. Hi Amy, thanks so much for your comment. It really is such a difficult time and I know it’ll get easier, it just doesn’t feel that way at the minute, especially as you say because our time together was cut so short. Thanks again for taking the time to comment, the community has amazed me today, so glad I decided to post. R x

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  11. So sorry for your loss. I’ve lost a pet before and it sucks so so much 😦

    I loved Pan! I wanted to have a daemon of my own so badly!
    And Hedwig is great, too, though I think I’d pick a cat 🙂 More witchy haha 😀

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    1. Hi Ula, thanks for commenting. It does suck, in a hate-the-world-unfair sort of way. I’m a big Hedwig fan, was so annoyed at Rowling for ages because of what she did! R x

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  12. I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss. That is never easy. I am being completely honest here when I say your post made me tear up. Our pets are like our family, and it’s just so rough losing one. I’m glad writing on your blog helps a little. I love books with animals and your list is amazing. Great choices!

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    1. Oh dear, I didn’t think this post would make people get too emotional, I hope I haven’t depressed everyone! I was blubbing while writing it but I was aiming for more of a celebration-post at the end, maybe my blubbing came through a little. In a weird way it has helped. I’m not sure why. I used to write a lot when I was younger and I stopped during my later teen years, only really picking it up again when I started to blog. I think the process of writing about it helps you to work through it. Thanks for commenting, Courtney 🙂 R x

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  13. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine losing my cat that way. It’s been a year since my one cat got out of the house and never came home and I know how much that completely devastated me. Our pets are huge parts of our lives. My sympathies to you right now. This was a great way to share how special he was.

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    1. Hi, Brandie. Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry to hear that, people who aren’t animal-lovers probably think we’re crazy but we do treat them like little people. He’s going to be sorely missed for quite a while. R x

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    1. Thank you so much, Lucy. I wasn’t going to write anything about it, but it felt “weird” not putting it on my blog as I put so much of myself on here now. R x

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  14. I agree, a pet is no less than family, I’m so sorry for your loss. This list is a wonderful way to remember your cat! Except the Lone Wolf, which I haven’t read but now will, I agree with each and every one. 🙂

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    1. They definitely are extra members of the family! I love Jodi Picoult books, and The Lone Wolf didn’t disappoint – let me know if you read it what you think 🙂

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  15. Rachel, your post made me cry. (And I’m not much of a cryer.) My heart goes out to you – I feel that if we do it right, the pets we adopt into our homes become as much a part of our families as the people in them. I hate it when people don’t get that and think it’s silly to care so much. It’s not silly; it’s the way it should be. I’m so sorry to hear about Alfie. He looks like such a gorgeous, mischievous, loving little guy. We lost two cats in two years about 5 years back, and were crushed each time. Days (okay, weeks) of tears. While it’s a tragedy to lose him, you gave him a wonderful life and all the love he deserved. And at the end of the day, that is something beautiful. I love this tribute post idea, and that it reminded me of some of my favourite fictional animals I haven’t thought of in far too long. Thank you for sharing with us, and I’m sending you really big virtual hugs!

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    1. Aww, Emily! Your reply made me tear up! Thank you so much for your comment, it really does mean a lot when other people “get it”. I had such a short time with this wee guy and we were so close already that it just seemed so unfair I didn’t get the 10 years + I should have had. And yes, it was worse because we did everything “right” – it had been five years since my previous pet had died of old age, I waited that long to make sure I was ready, I got a boy because my neighbour has a female cat and I was told there would be less chance of fighting, I wanted to make sure I trained him from a kitten to fit in with the household, he was vaccinated regularly, and neutered, I kept him indoors for 7 months and I even bought a cat-harness and lead so I could introduce him to the great outdoors slowly and get him used to the perimeter of the house! I’m sure I looked insane with a cat on a lead! I bought all the stuff I needed and I really took him on as my first proper pet of my own (as a child your parents do a lot of the looking after for you, but with Alfie it was all me, all the vet trips and whatnot). His personality was just spot on and we really did bond super quickly. But he was just such an explorer, he absolutely loved being outside chasing birds and bugs, he’d come home covered with twigs from climbing trees and he bounded around in the garden. It wouldn’t have been fair to him to force him to be an indoor cat, but at the same time I feel guilty, like I didn’t protect him enough. People have already suggested getting another cat, like he can be replaced, but it’ll take me a while to recover from this one. Thanks again for commenting, means a lot. R x

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      1. Oh, sweetie. I didn’t realize he was so young. That is truly heartbreaking. I’ve lost a few pets when they were less than 2, and it really is just terrible feeling like you were cheated out of those precious years. It sounds like you did the very best you could for him. You can’t beat yourself up or blame yourself. These things happen – he could just as easily have gotten trapped or fallen somewhere in the house – there’s no way to protect him from everything. One of ours partially tore something in his back leg and we still have no idea how it happened.

        There’s a lot of debate about indoor/outdoor cats. Ours are indoor, but that’s just because for the first few years we had them we were on the 11th floor of an apartment building so they couldn’t go outside. By the time we moved we both felt like they were too used to being indoors and lacked the skills to deal with the outdoors – plus we live in an area where there’s a fair amount of wildlife and lots of other dogs and cats.

        But I know one of our cats would do better if she could go outside. We have more than one so they have company when we’re not home, but they pretty much just sleep most of the day, and I worry it’s not as healthy for them as getting exercise outside. I worry that we’re doing things wrong keeping them inside. So I think that you have to trust the decision you made, and absolutely do not blame yourself.

        And as I said in my interloping comment up there somewhere, it really doesn’t work like that – every pet I have had has been completely, utterly unique. And I feel like if I’d gotten another one to try and replace one I’d lost it wouldn’t have been fair, because they’ll never be the same. You have to wait until you can build a new relationship and get to know a new pet. You’ll know when you’re ready. And it’ll still be sad, but when it’s right the happy will outweigh the grief you feel. It’ll take awhile. This totally turned into a novella comment – sorry! Guess I still have a lot of feelings left over!

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      2. Don’t apologise! I absolutely LOVED that comment!! Thanks so much, Emily, really have helped make me feel better ❤ x

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