I’ve had pets since I was six. Prissy was a black poodle. She slept with me, rode in the basket on my bicycle, and shared my love for fuzzy house shoes. Every Christmas I got a new pair of pink fuzzy house shoes, but I couldn’t walk across the room because Prissy barked and snapped at them.
Morris was an orange and white cat. He looked just like Morris on TV. I can’t even remember what kind of cat food the Morris on TV advertised. My Morris and Prissy had one spat when he first arrived. He spatted her nose and made it bleed and she never bothered him again. He was a cuddler and moved from Georgia to Arkansas with me and Prissy.
Killer was a female calico. I named her that because I was in love with Erik Estrada and he had a tiny little dog named Killer. I thought that was funny, so I named her Killer. She was a cuddle cat. She loved sitting on my knees and digging her claws in. My knees were like sponges. Prissy was still around when Killer arrived, but she’d learned her lesson with Morris.
After I got married, my husband brought me a puppy one night. Oscar Mayer Weiner–you guessed it, a red dachshund. He was my baby. If I was sitting, he was in my lap. My husband even got jealous of him. Oscar loved tennis balls and would chase and retrieve as long as you’d throw.
He had terrible allergies and had sneezing fits. Five or six sneezes in a row and his legs were so short he’d bang his nose on the floor with each sneeze. We had an ugly brown chair we got for five dollars from a yard sale. No one ever sat in it–it just filled a corner. So when he started sneezing, we’d put him in the brown chair. After a few times of that, every time he started sneezing, he’d jump up in the sneeze chair. We kept that ugly chair until he went to doggy heaven.
It took two to get me over Oscar. Zach and Abby were red dachshunds. Brother and sister. She was very adventurous. He was afraid of his own shadow. Her greatest delight was to go out the doggy door so Zach would follow. Then she’d run back in and bark and snap when he tried to follow her inside. He’d take it for a long time, then he’d get tired of her antics and come barreling through, sending her rolling. After they went to doggy heaven, I decided my heart couldn’t take any more lap dogs.
My son kept asking for a dog, but we wanted to wait until he was a little older. When he was four, a kitten appeared at my Mom and Dad’s (across an Arkansas hayfield from our house). Even painfully skinny, he was the prettiest cat I’d ever seen. Charcoal gray with grass green eyes. We called him across the field and he came just like a dog. Now, he’s a big cuddle cat and follows us when we go on walks. In the hot summer, he’ll pant all the way until we think he’s going to die, but he goes every time. When I’m writing, my outdoor cat visits my office often. That’s him guarding my books in the picture above.
When I took Charcoal to the vet to make sure he didn’t do any tomcatting, we discovered Smoky. She looks just like him, but is oh so different. She hides from life and only comes out when it’s really quiet. She used to go on top of the house when she got scared, but then the satellite guy went up there with her. It took her days to get over that. Then she took refuge under the house. And the bug man went under there with her. When her world gets disturbed, she only comes out after dark.
Sometimes days go by without us seeing her. She doesn’t like to be held or cuddled, but loves to be petted. But she won’t be still. She constantly spins and turns getting just out of your reach to where you almost have to chase her to pet her. She doesn’t get to visit the office because she won’t be still and settle. She walks all over me and my computer which makes writing difficult. But when I’m not writing, I let her in and she spins and twirls until her heart is content. Occasionally she’ll sit on my lap as long as I don’t hold her there.
Our son finally got a dog when he was six. Hershey is a chocolate lab. She loves everybody, including cats, but especially her boy. She hates it when he goes to school, hates it when he goes home with a friend, and doesn’t rest properly until her boy is home. She makes every step he does and every round he makes on his four-wheeler.
When we go for a walk, she goes with us. Imagine a boy, a mom, a chocolate lab, and a charcoal gray cat trailing up the gravel road. Smoky never joins us on our walks. She’s too busy huddling under the house. She has finally come to the conclusion—after about four years—that Hershey isn’t going to eat her. On a quiet night, you’ll find Smoky on the porch with Hershey. But not Charcoal, he hunts at night and brings me all kinds of headless critters in the morning.
All the pets I’ve had have left paw prints on my heart. I’m sure the current ones will also. But they add so much love and fun to life. I doubt I’ll ever be petless for long.