Adventures In Growing Up With Pets

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Adventures In Growing Up With Pets

Adventures In Growing Up With Pets
How did I get interested in pet supplies or should I say pets?  I suppose it started when I was growing up.  We basically were never without a cat or a dog during my growing up years with a few other species thrown in there.

My first cat that I remember, Pandy, was a very sweet Siamese cat who lived for 15 years.  We pretty much grew up together.  There was an incident with Pandy, however.  Evidently, Pandy didn't like it because we were gone for a few days and she let us know about it.  She had jumped to the top of our brand spanking new curtain panels by the back door and slid all the way down each panel ripping them to shreds with her claws.  My dad was furious and we kept Pandy away from him for at least 3 weeks until he softened up a bit.  Pandy lived through the torture of us bringing home a kitten who used to hide around the corner and scare the you-know-what out of her.  We decided to give the kitten away and save Pandy from a nervous breakdown. When my family and I moved overseas, we even took Pandy with us. We weren't about to leave her behind.  After all, she was a member of the family.  

During the Pandy years, we also had a few dogs here and there.  There was Vanessa, who contracted distemper and we had to have her euthanized.  There was Toto (yeah I know not a very original name but I loved the Wizard of Oz) who was way too hyper and jumped on me ALL THE TIME and put tooth holes in the majority of my shirts.  I can't remember what happened to Toto.

A few years later, we acquired two dogs.  One was a cute black chihuahua we named Cricket.  My dad loved Cricket and Cricket loved my dad.  I still have this visual of my big dad with a very deep voice and this tiny dog who didn't weigh much more than a squirrel in their nightly routine.  My dad would sit on the sofa and read the newspaper, and Cricket was always right there.  Cricket would lay in his lap or on the sofa pillow next to my dad on his back with his legs up in the air sound asleep.  

The other dog we got when Cricket was with us, was a female dachshund.  I'm still not sure to this day, why we got her.  I should ask my mom. My mom named her Fraulein Cleopatra Germaine.  I guess it was her turn to name one of our pets.  Us kids thought that was a ridiculous name, so we just called her Cleo.  Cleo wasn't a miniature dachshund, she was a plain ole dachshund.  In other words, she was a reddish-brown sausage on four short legs.  Cleo was my best friend.  She followed me everywhere and slept with me.  However, we couldn't get her to walk around the block with us.  We tried and she tried.  Those short little legs just couldn't manage the whole distance, so we would always have to carry her most of the way home. We finally learned our lesson and stopped trying to get her to go around the block with us.

During the Cricket and Cleo era, both of my parents worked.  Since we lived about a mile from my school, I walked to and from school.  We kept the dogs outside during the day when all of us were away from home but somehow Cricket and Cleo would find ways to get out of the enclosed backyard and follow me.  I was late to school sometimes because I would have to walk them back home.  One day, as I was walking home from school, I found Cricket beside the road.  He had been hit by a car.  It was devastating.  I didn't get over that for a long time and neither did my dad.  Sadly, not long after that, Cleo was stolen.  One of our neighbors saw someone stop their car and put her in it.  I hope they gave her a nice home.  Both of these incidents were very traumatic for us.

I guess we gave up on dogs, but we still had sweet Pandy, the cat.  Then my parents gave me permission to have a hamster.  I named him Herman the Hamster. We went on vacation and hired my brother's best friend, Carl, to come over and feed Herman a few times and make sure he had enough water.  We came back, I ran to my room to see Herman and there he was just as happy as ever.  A few hours later, we saw another hamster on the floor of the kitchen by the dishwasher.  What?  Who is this?  Evidently, Herman had escaped from his cage, and Carl, bought us another hamster because he felt responsible for Herman's disappearance.  What a nice guy! We put Herman back in his cage with the new hamster, that we soon named Charlotte.  I came home from school a few days later, to find that Charlotte had killed Herman.  We had no idea female hamsters kill males on many occasions.  There's more to this story, but let's just say Charlotte wasn't around much longer and leave it at that...

The following year, my step-sister, Cathy, moved in with us and we shared a small bedroom and a double size bed. Cathy had "her side" of the room and "her side" of the bed and I had "my side" of the room and "my side" of the bed.  Cathy's uncle caught a parakeet on her grandmother's porch.  Yep, you guessed it, Cathy brought the parakeet home.  It lived in our small bedroom on Cathy's "side" of the room.  His name was Charlie.  We had Charlie for maybe two or three years but he lived half of that time with one leg.  His other leg fell off for some reason.

Cathy also had an aquarium.  So...a bird named Charlie, an aquarium full of fish, and two 'tweens all shared the same small bedroom.  In the winter of 1973, there was a severe ice storm in our neck of the woods, and we were without power, therefore without heat for at least 3 days.  Cathy had guppies in the aquarium and one or more of them were pregnant.  It was so cold in our house, we all wore two or three layers of clothing, hats, and gloves and stayed under 3 or 4 layers of covers in our beds.  We couldn't go outside for fear of slipping and falling on ice.  Anyway, back to the fish.  We wrapped the aquarium in several layers of towels to keep the water from freezing and killing all the fish.  I can't recall if they gave birth during the ice storm power outage or after it, but I do remember my fascination at watching the guppies giving birth to new fish.

Our cat, Pandy, stayed with us for five or six more years.  Us kids were all out of my parents' house by the time Pandy died from old age and yes, we started acquiring pets of our own.  Me, I just stick with cats - have had 4 over the years and loved every one of them.