For most of my many years in West Windsor, I’ve been a pet owner. That includes the usual collection of dogs and cats, as well as some of the usual small animals the children have kept from time to time, like birds, turtles, and snakes.
But the most important to the family have been the dogs and cats. Today, and for the past eight years, I have been the owner of two very friendly cats, Simon and Patrick.
They are brothers from the same litter that I got as very young kittens from PetSmart at Nassau Park Pavillion. They are “house cats.” That is, they stay inside all the time, and taking care of their needs has not been a problem, mainly, I suppose, because I have compiled a lot of experience in this job over the years.
Before Simon and Patrick, we had Lillie and Pearl. They were indoor/outdoor cats. That is, they were allowed to go outside through a swinging door that led from the rear sitting room into the garage.
Once in the garage, they were able to go outside through a small sliding door in the garage. This system worked fine for quite a few years, until Lillie became a very adept hunter, which meant she brought a variety of wildlife home and into the house.
One of her favorite catches was chipmunks. Somehow, we were unable to keep her from hunting them and sometimes bringing them inside. Unfortunately, she eventually got so adept at hunting that she fell victim to some of the injuries that a domestic cat can sustain in “working the neighborhood.” The transition to Simon and Patrick was easy.
Before the four cats, we were mainly “dog people,” and I have talked about some of our dog experiences before. But West Windsor has been where most of our dog-life has been centered, including many of our experiences with veterinarians.
Here I was with someone else’s dog a few yards from high speed traffic on Route 1 and no way to keep him with me. What did I do? I decided to lie down on the grass and roll around.
Our most important relationship with a vet was with the two on Route 1 at Weber’s, just north of the intersection with Quakerbridge Road and on the east side of the highway.
The place is still called Weber’s Training School, but we never got involved in the “training” part of their service, only making use of their veterinarian services.
Both of their vets were very obliging and knew how to take care of an ailing dog. At the time we patronized them several decades ago we had not started adopting cats.
Usually, when we just walked in, the vet we saw was either Dr. Milton Horowitz or Dr. Jack Blumenthal. They both knew very well how to handle both the routine stuff and the emergencies.
In those days, there were no mandatory inoculations, so they took care of what needed to be done.
One day, I was asked by a friend who lived on Southern Way in Princeton if I would use my station wagon to pick up her Irish Setter at Weber’s where he had been boarded for a few days.
It seemed like a simple thing to do, so I said yes, anticipating it shouldn’t take longer than about a half hour or so. The dog’s name was Leo, and he was a typical setter, very playful and easy to get along with.
So easy, in fact, that I forgot to take a leash along with me to help me get him in the car. I pulled into the Weber’s driveway just off Route 1, and an attendant from the kennel brought Leo out to the car expecting that I would put him on a leash to get him in the car.
It was then that I realized that I had no leash or anything else to keep him from wandering out onto Route 1, since there was no fence along that front section of Weber’s.
Here I was with someone else’s dog a few yards from high speed traffic on Route 1 and no way to keep him with me. So what did I do? I decided to lie down on the grass and roll around.
That got his attention, and he started to run away from the road and toward my car where I had opened one of the doors. It worked! In a few seconds, he was in the car, and I was very relieved. I’m sure I was much happier than he was to arrive at Southern Way again.
Another unusual veterinarian story involved a vet who used to practice on Route 571 just across the road from McCaffreys’s on the south side of the road.
There’s a narrow row of houses there backed up by McGetrick Lane. A couple of decades ago, one of those houses was the premises of another veterinarian.
I don’t recall his name now, but we used him to administer our cats’ shots. But the most interesting thing about that place was the fact that the kennel attendant there was an author.
Yes, he used to write very imaginative stories about the patients there. If you took your cat or dog there for treatment or boarding, you always made sure to get a copy of your story before leaving. Yes, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on around here, even in the pet world.