Family Pets

As we’re inching our way closer to the release date for Paw Prints on the Wall, I’ve been thinking about all the pets I’ve had over my lifetime. Any shelter worker, or former shelter worker, is likely to have a ton of personal stories about their family pets. We’re all pet people, after all.

Current Family – Delta

I grew up in a single parent home so our very first pets were limited. My brother and I had hamsters, mine named Furball and his named Little Foot because The Land Before Time had come out and we all loved that movie. We also had a cat named B.C. which stood for Brat Cat.

My mother taught us that pets were family, so we loved on our creatures a ton. Even though B.C. regularly tried checking our dental work by shoving her face in our mouths when we yawned in front of her. She was a Siamese and she was sassy as can be. This is the one that bit my mother’s ankles when the Vet tried to limit how much food she was eating.

The hamsters came and went fairly quickly. Their lifespans aren’t quite up to par with other creatures, after all. But I remember the Great Escape that Little Foot made where we lost him for a week or so. I’m pretty sure my mother was terrified B.C. would get him. Or the Landlord would make a visit and the hamster would somehow scurry into view, proving us terrible pet owners or something.

Current Family – Nuisance

Then there was Hooper the bird, who I wanted and then became too frightened of to take proper care of. To be fair, Hooper bit the man at the pet store and there was a lot of blood for my young brain to process. I was terrified to pet the bird and basically only made sure he had food and cleaned his cage before we transferred him to my grandparents, who had no qualms letting him fly through the house and perch on their shoulders. It was a good move for Hooper, who is remembered fondly as an affectionate bird.

Being older now, I wish I hadn’t been so terrified. He was very handsome for a bird and he obviously loved my grandparents.

But by far, my memories center on two animals from my youth: Mr. Oswald (Ozzy) Hobbes and Miss Daisy-Mae.

Current Family – Pest

Alas, I am old enough that print photos are all I have of Hobbes and Daisy-Mae.

Hobbes was a purebred cocker spaniel, buff colored, with floppy ears and more intelligence than he wanted you to know. We rescued him from the shelter and there were many weeks and weeks of struggling to potty-train him. At first we had no fence in the back yard, so we would have to take him out on the leash and then he would be too interested in playing to do his business proper.

Oh! And you had to hold an umbrella over him in the rain or he wouldn’t go.

Current Family – Goober

Things got easier once the fence was built. He would dash outside, zoom through the yard, bark at squirrels. Typical pup stuff. I’m not sure how I was convinced to be the one to do 4-H with him, but I was and I remember our training sessions fondly. Like I said, he was more intelligent than he wanted you to know because once that training leash was on him, he snapped into “performance” mode and it was like the bratty, play-tug-of-war with your ponytail, never-listens-to-you dog that we were used to at home would disappear.

And then there was Daisy-Mae, who was grey and white with extra toes on her front feet. She was prone to swat you at random, too. If ever a cat had cat-ttitude, it was Daisy-Mae. She would daintily lay in front of you, purring up a storm, rubbing her face against your hand as you’re petting her, and then her tail would give one flick – Just one, mind you, so you had to paying attention – and if you kept petting her after that single flick of the tail she would box you with those massive front paws and wander off in a huff.

It’s been many years since all of these pets have passed, but my life has been the richer for knowing them.

Pets are family. And family is forever.

Current Family – Nightmare

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