When Baron, their long-haired black German shepherd, was aging, Levitin's family acquired a shepherd puppy, quick-sale merchandise they named Barney. Unlike Ms royal predecessor, Barney turned out to be a clown prince, urinating like a female, running the other way when called, and going ""wild"" at the sight of young blondes wearing jeans. He also dug up Baron's bones and brought home a distressing variety of decomposing rodent carcasses and, mysteriously, the tiny bodies of two newborn kittens. From the first eyedropper feeding, Jinxie and Jessie were destined to complete this menagerie, even though Levitin never considered herself the cat-mother type. A YMCA training course extinguished Barney's less endearing behaviors (actually, he had to repeat the course), Baron was mercifully put to sleep, and the two cats secured their own household niches--Jinxie as breakfast table centerpiece, Jessica as queen bee. Within the genre, slight but bright rather than treacly.