Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Pets

Several of the Rev Gals have recently lost, or are anticipating possible loss, of beloved pets. Most recently was Molly, Songbird's beautiful companion in life and ministry too. Sophia hosts this week, and she asks us, in memory of Molly and others, to tell about our five most memorable pets. This is an interesting topic, and a difficult one for those of us who love animals and have had many of them share our space. Hmmm...she did not say favorite. She said most memorable.

1. Myrtle the Turtle. To be precise, Myrtle was a tortoise. It is now illegal to cart off a California desert tortoise, but back in the day when it wasn't, my dad returned from Lockheed missile testing in the desert with Myrtle. She was about as big around as a dinner plate. No, she was not particularly affectionate and did not come when called, but we loved her (or him?) anyhow. She would, if we were gentle, stretch her neck out and allow us to scratch her scaled head, which felt like dry leather. She hibernated in winter, but in summer she often could be found grazing in the grass of our yard. Her favorite foods, which we never tired of watching her devour, were rose or hibiscus petals. Myrtle was left behind when our family disintegrated. I've wondered more than once, since desert tortoises live a long time, if she still has a burrow under the house on Woodman St.

2. Pete the Parakeet. We had several of these charming little birds when I was a kid. Pete was not charming. Oh, he was pretty, with his bright green and yellow coloring, but he was mean and would bite if given the slightest opportunity. He will forever live in my memory because of the cricket hunt he sent my family on. My mom suspected a cricket infestation and we looked everywhere for about a week trying to find the loud but elusive little insects. Eventually we discovered that Pete, living in a cage near a window, was imitating the night sound of crickets. That parakeet could sound like a dozen crickets were in the corner. It was amazing!

3. Freddy the Three-Legged Frog. Freddy wasn't a pet, exactly. He lived in our flower bed. One day my dad and I discovered that Freddy had somehow crushed one of his back legs. My dad did an impromptu surgery on our wooden picnic table. I, the surgical assistant, held a string tightly across Freddy's leg and squeezed my eyes tightly shut. Dad amputated the crushed part of the leg and gently places Fred under a sheltering oleander. I figured he was a goner, but soon we saw him hopping around as happily as ever. For a frog with three legs, he could jump!

4. Blinkers. This was the dog that followed me home. At least that is what I told my parents. Actually she was coaxed by a chunk of bologna. Blinkers was the pet of abusive folks several blocks down the street. I had watched them hit, taunt and abuse this sweet and beautiful little doggy that they called "Tootsie" and I decided to take matters into my own hands. About a week after Blinker's abduction, one of the brats to who she formerly belonged banged on our front door and asked for Tootsie back. As for Tootsie, now named Blinkers because of the black circles around her eyes, she shrank back and cowered in fear. My dad sent me to my room. I don't know what transpired, but Blinkers was my dog after that, and the child never asked for her again. She was the most loving dog I had ever had, and she knew she was mine. We were not a family who allowed pets on the furniture, but little Blinkers would sneak on my bed after all were asleep, and she'd creep slowly up till I could rest my hand on her head. Sadly, we were in a relatively poor period of our family life, and we did not get Blinkers to the vet for shots. She evidently hadn't had any, because she developed distemper and had to be put down. The night before the deed was to be done, we fed her Oreo cookies. Later we found some "buried" under the throw rugs. I remember my last sight of her as I rode away on the school bus. She had been very sick, but that morning she rallied, running along the fence and barking good-bye to me. I hoped this meant she would recover. It didn't.

5. Cassie the Wonder Dog. This is the dog our family will never forget. We aquired her from a family who had two rather dopey labs, and Cassie (a name we did never liked). Cassie was the brains of the trio. A sheltie/husky mix, she had the husky size but the sheltie appearance so she looked like a collie. Cassie would hunt down porcupines because she loved to sniff and find things. The two galumping labs would then end up with noses full of quills. After several episodes of this, they gave two-year-old Cassie to us. I could write a book about Cassie. I will just say that she was brilliant and we know she would have talked if she had had the vocal chords for it. She was funny, sensitive and sweet, protective and loyal, prone to sneak cake (and pay for it later), very perceptive about people, and we also suspect she could see spirits--angelic and otherwise. My son has her collar, and we still talk and laugh about her. She lived a long and happy life. Her end, however, was traumatic. I won't describe it. She's been gone for about fifteen years, but if I ever have to play a part where I cry instantly, all I will have to do is recall Cassie's last hours. Ken and our son, Josh, took her to the vet and both held her as she breathed her last, both of them crying like babies. We loved her so much that we grieved a long time. We will miss her forever. We buried her in a field. She is waiting for us beyond the rainbow bridge.


Jeni said...

Of course, since I am an animal lover -especially dogs, my son and younger daughter tend to be more partial to cats -I really enjoyed this post. I might even have to do a post about the animals that have been part of my life too over the years.

MumPastor said...

Thanks for sharing, especially about Blinkers and Cassie. How could we have gotten through childhood without a dog to love? I am glad that was never a question I had to answer! Great FF

Dr Laura Marie Grimes said...

What wonderful stories!

Diane M. Roth said...

cassie had husky in her, just like Scout! No wonder she was so wonderful.

Auntie Knickers said...

So far you win the prize for most unusual pets and also most unusual, or at least gutsy, way to acquire a dog!

Anonymous said...

What about Spooky the attack cat?