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.