Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Greatest Fantasy Element in Neelsdom

Waterloo would bide his
time. And then when the dog
wasn't looking...
The Canon of Betty Neels contains many elements which, though not wizards and fire-breathing dragons, have just as much improbable magic in them.

  • Unattached, established bachelors waiting around for poor, plain, gently-bred, British nurses to steal their hearts
  • Loyal servants and enough wealth (usually) to afford them
  • Dutch stately homes in excellent repair dying for a mistress to poke through the linen cupboards
But the element that surprises and delights me more than most has to do with the pets. Whenever the two households (lady and gentleman) become one, there is the sticky issue of "How will the pets get along?" to work out. Betties, THEY ALWAYS DO.

I do recall one instance (but not the book, darn it) where a new cat was given a swat on the face from an older, more established cat before learning his place in the pecking order and taking to it at once but most of the time it's even more seamless than that. 

In 'The Promise of Happiness' (or 'Becky and the Baron (the Hot, Hot Baron)') Becky has to entrust her two beloved pets (Bertie and Pooch) to a near stranger for weeks at a time. Will they settle down? is the anxious question:

He put a hand on her back and swept her along and through the baize door, down some steps and into a large kitchen, equipped to the last skewer and still somehow looking delightfully old-fashioned. There was an Aga stove along one wall and on the rug before it were Bertie, Pooch and a Great Dane. All three animals turned round, half asleep, and then bounded to their feet and rushed across the kitchen, the Great Dane to hurl herself at the Baron, Bertie and Pooch to cover Becky with joyful licks, pushing and shoving her in their efforts to greet her properly after such a long time. She sank on to the floor and let them have their way while the tears ran down her cheeks...

The three animals seem to get on like a house on fire and in none of the calls from Becky to the Baron, over her weeks of absence, were mentioned litter box mishaps or antique William and Mary settees ruined by claw marks or soiling. 

Betty Kylene (whose heart is made of butter) found herself adopting a stray black cat a few months ago. Of course the cat was pregnant. Of course the cat and her other cat fight like brawlers. It's been fine since one was an indoor cat and the other was an outdoor cat. But did I mention the heart like butter?

The winter is cold and the outdoor cat is loveable so she's resorted to a baby gate to try to acclimate the two factions to one another. It's going to be a process...

Have you any experience blending pet families? Successes? Failures?