Snapshots from my life, one question at a time.
What pets did you have growing up?
Ok so people always think I must have lived on a farm or next to a freeway for how many pets I had, and how many departed this world before their time. When I was a baby We had Polo, a sweet, tolerant black lab who dragged one of his paws. My grandfather on my mother’s side at one point made a little leather “mitten” for him so that his foot didn’t become calloused. My dad told me Polo had been found dead on the porch while I was at school, which made sense as he was old. It wasn’t until high school when my dad said while driving, “that’s where we put Polo to sleep,” that I realized I had been duped.
At the same time as Polo we had a cat named Ming who was very beautiful (a seal-point Himalayan) but not very nice. He scratched me all the way down my arm when I was about five or so as we put him in a crate to go to the vet. When we got there the vet put some yellow stuff all over my arm to help it heal, which I thought was pretty cool. Turns out Ming had a bladder infection and had to be put down.
I then got my very first kitten, which I named… Nothing! I thought it would be really cool not to give it a name and to just keep changing it all the time. My grandparents would call occasionally and my Grammy always asked me what my kitty’s name was that day. As I grew a bit older, I finally stuck on Precious, even though he was a boy. My sweet black fluffy Precious went missing shortly after we moved. He had gotten himself stuck up a tree once, and we had to climb up and get him, so I thought for a long time that maybe one day I would look up and the skeleton of a cat would be sitting in the branches.
For a short time, just before and after Polo’s death we had a Chow-mix named Buck. Our neighbor came over once and told us that he had seen Buck chasing some deer, (our property was never fenced), and that if he saw him do it again on his property he would shoot him. Buck went missing.
While we had Buck before Polo died, a border collie who we started to call Biscuit visited our house during the great Ice Storm in Spokane. We figured he had run away from home and I thought we would have three dogs, but shortly thereafter he ran away from us too. While we had Buck after Polo died, a stray black lab we called Midnight lived with us for almost half a year before disappearing one day for no reason.
My parents divorced and we received kittens in both houses. A gray tabby named Triscut at my mothers, and a black and white cat named Oreo at my fathers. Triscuit ran away or got hit by a car after only a couple of years, in which time we acquired and lost a pet rat and a budgie. The budgie was named Baby, and nipped me a lot. He flew out the window one day, and my mom joked that we would find him while cleaning the gutters in the spring. Rat Boy was a favorite of mine. He would sit on my shoulder and eat peanut butter. He liked to climb to the top of the Christmas tree, and was so tame we let him run around like a cat. He got caught in a mousetrap, but just his foot so he survived, only to be killed ironically by my grandparent’s rat terrier who got into his cage while I was at camp. They froze his body so I could bury him properly once I got home.
At my father’s things were hectic as we tried to blend his fiancée’s family of five into our own little trio. My father got me a puppy to settle me I believe. I named her Jewel and she was very frightened of everything. She was so little, and she only really let me play with her. After a week, we went on an overnight trip and left her at home on the tether with food and water. When we got back the tether was stretched all the way out taut into the ditch and there was no response calling to her in the dark. Her body was cold, killed and left by coyotes for no particular reason. We buried her next to Polo and I put a little flag in the ground.
We tried again with Jewel II shortly thereafter. This time Jewel grew up into a lovely lab/ shepherd/ husky mix and was about three when she drank anti-freeze out of a puddle. For two days she lied down, not eating or drinking or moving at all. I begged my dad repeatedly to take her to the vet, but he said she would be fine. On the third day she was dead right where she had been for days.
We didn’t get a new puppy for a while.
The next one was a white pointy eared terrier named Freckles, who got into the neighbor’s chickens at age one and they made us euthanize her. I don’t remember being particularly upset because I think Freckles was kind of mean.
My father had moved on to a different fiancée Liesa, who had two sons of her own, and a little schnauzer named Victor. He used to run at moose barking manically, and was kicked in the head by a deer once, which caused all of his teeth to rot out from infection. We were dog-less so we adopted another black lab puppy to run around with Victor, and named him Eddie. Eddie is very sweet and still alive. He has a joint problem that makes his elbows stick out every which way, but it’s endearing.
Oreo, my cat, had managed to live through it all, until Liesa squished him in the garage door.
My father consoled me with the idea that we could go get a new kitten for me in the spring together. Liesa has Borderline Personality Disorder, and saw my father’s affection as a massive threat (even to his own daughter). She surprised us one day with two purebred gray persian kittens. I couldn’t handle being there, she had done it so that my father and I could not have the moment together, so I went to my mother’s until my father talked me down. I came in with my bravest face and said, “alright what are we going to name them?” She couldn’t wait to answer me, “Oh? Well, I think you chose not to be here for that, so we’ve named them already. Zeke and Zeus.” This woman, my God, why.
For the record, my names were going to be D’artagnan and Schroeder, and after a few months of broken vacuums full of gray fur, they had to go anyhow. She took the kittens (which she had spent five hundred dollars on and never cared about) to the pound.
My mother’s house had only one dog during the lives of all my father’s unfortunate pets. Bijou is a black standard poodle, and the best dog that transcends dog-ness I’ve ever had. I was giving my mother a massage for mother’s day, and she sighed, and I sighed, and Bijou sighed. The first time Bijou saw the ocean she went running up to the waves as fast as she could, and made a huge jump into the water. Upon landing she looked utterly shocked for a moment, then began to poop in the surf. She walks around the sides of the yard in the winter so that she doesn’t get snow on her, and I love her dearly, though she is thirteen, deaf, and almost blind.
My mother also has Bodecia, my gray, foul tempered longhair that we shave to look like a lion, and Smudge, a huge fluffy black and white cat (my brother’s) who loves to be squished. Smudge is very bad and eats cords.
Now that I live on my own after graduating, I have a little torbie with a freckle on her pink nose named Tulip. She likes to watch the TV if I turn it on, and play with hair-ties, empty toilet paper rolls, anything round really. She likes to be the big spoon, like the moon on my back at night, and running up and down the hall very fast pursued by phantoms.