DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Aug 2 2010

The Last One

by Veronica W

I can’t remember a time when I did not have a pet. Sometimes it was a cat, sometimes it was a dog, occasionally one or two of both. Brandy was a slobbery Saint Bernard with a long, impressive pedigree, while Toughie Tom was found scrounging around in a garbage can. I even ventured into the world of birds, at one time living with two parakeets. Butter was all yellow and Green Sleeves was yellow with green wings.  If I left the cage door open, they would fly across the room and sit on my finger or shoulder. Each one was special and each left a hole when I had to say goodbye.

Pets add a dimension to your life which is sometimes difficult to articulate.  Dogs offer unconditional devotion while cats present the life-long challenge of trying to teach them to fetch your slippers- or to just come when they’d rather not. It’s no wonder almost every child, at some point, wants a puppy or a kitten. It’s also no surprise that, when properly trained, animals can be used to aid and comfort the distressed and physically challenged.

I love stories about or with animals.  There are too many to name so I will  give you only a few of my favorites.You may have  some of your own. At the top of my list is always The Incredible Journey. When the old dog comes limping home at the end, it’s always tissue time for me. Call of the Wild, Lassie Come Home and Sounder are all on the list. Cat lovers devour Lillian Braun’s series featuring the detecting Siamese cats Koko and Yum-yum, as well as Rita Mae Brown’s Squeaky Pie stories. Those folks more into dogs can try the Virginia Lanier series beginning with Death in Bloodhound Red. Jo Beth Siddens, who raises bloodhounds for search and rescue missions in the Okefenokee Swamp, must use those sensitive noses to get herself out of trouble. Even folks who don’t want pets often enjoy reading about them.

Snickers was a sweet Maine Coon who asked for nothing more than to sit next to me, with her front paws on my lap, whenever she could; well, maybe getting some treats now and then. A few months ago, after 13 years, I had to say goodbye to her. In my head I dubbed her “the ABSOLUTELY last one.”  No more pets for me!  However everyone knows that the heart rules these decisions. Perhaps one day I’ll want to hear the patter of little paws again. We’ll see.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison W August 2, 2010 at 9:41 AM

My favorite dog story is “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I have probably read it a dozen times, and the ending always brings me to tears.

Dea Anne M. August 2, 2010 at 10:51 AM

One of my favorite animal stories is “Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery” by Deborah and James Howe. It is silly but I find the sleuthing antics of Chester and Harold absolutely hilarious.

Ken August 2, 2010 at 6:57 PM

I’m sorry you lost Snickers. Such a beautiful kitty! Almost a year ago, I said goodbye to my cat, Buddy, who had lived to the advanced age of 18 (and he was mine for all but about 6 months of that time). For anyone facing saying goodbye to any pet, I’d like to recommend The Loss of A Pet, by Wallace Sife, and Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, by Moria Anderson Allen. Both these books comforted me.

Anna B August 3, 2010 at 12:40 PM

During our divorce a couple of years ago, my ex-husband and I split custody of our four pets. When I had to have our cat Sam put to sleep that summer, it was made even more heartrending in that Sam’s life had spanned the 16 years of our relationship and marriage. Symbolic, hmm? Two more of our pets have died since then, and I am left with one dearly loved, elderly cat. Tomorrow, I will go to pick up my newly adopted kitten, and hopefully start a fresh family. But I certainly understand your reluctance to acquire a new pet. Sometimes enough heartbreak is enough. But you never know when someone else will come along…!

Quentin Blake’s Mortimer and Arabella series are giggling-out-loud funny, although Mortimer the raven is definitely not your ordinary pet! Blake’s wacky line drawings (familiar from Roald Dahl books) give life to the characters–the raven, Arabella the little girl, and her exasperated but loving parents. I’ve reread them many times, even as an adult!

C.Dodd August 3, 2010 at 3:46 PM

I’m sorry, but when I saw the picture of Brandy, the first thing that came to my mind was the movie Cujo. But the book that I like that has an old faithful dog in it, is “The Guardian” by Nicholas Sparks.

Veronica W August 3, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Thanks for reminding me! I love most of Sparks’ books, but “The Guardian” was my favorite. It was a psychological thriller as well as a love story…and then, of course, there was Singer.

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