Monday, July 12, 2010

Pet or Pest-That is the question

I believe pets are an intregal part of family life,and we had a diversity of creatures, big and small, over the years. Some will always be treasured memories. Other will live on in infamy.

When I was a girl back in Wisconsin, we had a parakeet whose cage was near the phone. Some of the remarks that emanated from that foul mouthed fowl were fit only for a sailor's ears. Whenever you used the phone, the receiving party presumed you were calling from some local bar. This bird hit the infamy list at an early date.

After I was married, Hub and I bought a variety of pets into our home to teach our children the valuable lesson of "kindness to animals". In a few cases the lesson included the commandment, "Thou shall not kill".

Take Oliver for example. This four pounds of impossible poodle flesh either suffered from profound incontinence or was merely claiming hs territory in every room of our house. He also bit every family member at one time or another.

Why did we we keep this monster? Just try telling the children you are planning to get rid of the dog! Oh no, we were stuck with this cantankerous canine until the lord stepped in and took him home. I can only guess that he lifts his leg daily somewhere in those hallowed halls daring some angel to risk expulsion by contributing to that dog's second demise.

We all agreed pets should have proper names. No Fido, Whiskers, or Fluffys in our family. After a conference, each animal or bird was named appropriately.

Our oldest son had a dog named Floyd. Someone's prized Pomeranian had escaped from her yard and caught the eye of an amouous Spitz. Floyd was part of the resulting litter. He had long skinny legs, a thick, fuzzy body, and a ten inch curly tail. This dog was a mess, but our son loved and cared for him for fifteen years.

Our youngest son's pet was named Melvin, a spastic Spaniel whose days were spent either leaping into the air or onto unsuspecting guests. He was yet another untrainable throwback to the dark ages when people didn't care if you left your personal mark on the floor of the cave.

One of our daughters rescued Chrissy Noel (a dog born during the Christmas holidays) from the animal shelter. Chrissy chose to sleep curled up in the washbowl of our guest bathroom. We presumed this made her feel she was back in the womb.

As it appeared we had less than good luck with the canine population, we resorted to hamsters. "We'll always know where these creatures are," I declared. "No frantic neighborhood searches before every family outing. These cuties will be caged."

And so Myrtle and Thelma (we didn't know about Louise in those days) joined the group in what was listed in my daily journal as "Pets--take five.

Thelma beat up on Myrtle and we had to resort to separate cages. Determined Thelma escaped from her cage and fell off the table on her head incurring "dain bramage". I rushed her to the vet where a big black cat eyed the cage tenaciously. Dr. Johnson examined the ridiculous rodent and announced she was suffering from a hematoma. You could have fooled me. He said she would probably recover in time and even get back on her wheel. Will wonders ever cease.

As years went by, we had a variety of other pets who shared our family life. There was a rabbit we got one one Easter and kept in the kitchen until the weather improved. I called that creature "The Ingrown Hare".

Ferd the bird, a calamitous canary, sang his swan song during the energy crunch. Then there was a rotten rooster the children brought home from school after learning first hand how chickens hatched. He was known as "the dumb cluck" after his repeated attempts to total our basement. I quietly removed him to the SPCA and can only speculate that from there he served as someone's Sunday dinner. The newts, Herman and Sherman hung around long enough to completely wear out their welcome.

After Hub and I reached our golden years, we spent most of our time taking care of each other. There was no time for pets. We felt we did our part to uphold the kindness to animals equity. Perhaps that animal activist group honors those who have done it all.

We would qualify.

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