Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five

From Sophia at RevGalBlogPals

So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.

Losing a pet is really difficult. It is amazing how they insinuate themselves into our lives and become parts of our families. And so my most memorable pets:

1 Duke. A collie like Lassie, but not pure bred. Duke's nose was shorter and wider than the classic collie look (a look I don't particularly admire anyway). Duke was the offspring of my uncle's dog. As I recall Bubba Jim (and you doubted I was a Southern girl) had the father of the litter and so was entitled to the pick of the litter. Duke was it. Duke came to us on New Years Eve and was frightened by the booming fire crackers and perhaps by being away from his mom for the first time. We put Duke in a box by my bed with an old fashioned alarm clock to remind him of his mother. I think probably Duke was in bed with me before the night was done.

2. Pinky. When I was 13 my parents bought the farm. I pretty much hated living on the farm. I was a teen ager and wanted to be close to my friends and there I was, three long miles from town, dependent on my parents for rides to parties and school things. My Dad bought black angus cattle and pigs. When a sow would have a litter, almost always there would be one pig who was destined not to survive. This poor pig would be pushed out of the way when it was time to eat. And so, my Dad would bring this runt to the house for me to try to save. Mostly, the poor animals would die within a day or two. But one, Pinky, survived. Pinky was fed on infant formula which I dutifully got up in the middle of the night to prepare for her. (This may be the reason I chose to breast feed my son: no getting up in the middle of the night to warm a bottle.) Pinky slept in my bed for warmth until she got too big. She remained in the house until she was six months old or so. Pigs don't have sweat glands, so they have to be bathed often in hot weather. Mom made me use the laundry tubs downstairs because she didn't want the pig in the tub upstairs. One day a patient came to the house (my dad was a country doctor and had a tiny office at the house to see patients) and watched my Mom as she swept the animals out of the house: the cats first, then a dog or two and finally, squeeling because she obviously was not part of the animal kingdom, Pinky. The patient commented to Dad that he had never seen a pig in the house (this was long before the day of the stylish Vietnamese pot belly pigs). My dad responded that with three baths so far that day, Pinky was cleaner than the patient.

3. Burglar. Burglar wasn't with us for very long. A sheltie-mix, we found Burglar in our garage on morning. I heard someone in the garage and was a bit scared. When my then husband and I investigated, we found this cute dog with no tags. We kept her. I ran an ad in the paper but no one claimed her. Unfortunately she had a habit of tearing through the screen door when she wanted to run outside. She was found dead one morning, run over by a car. I hadn't even known she had gotten out of the house.

4. Beowulf. A friend had a huge what I thought was a Belgian shepherd. I wanted one and found a breeder. We bought this four month old puppy from the breeder. Beowulf lived up to his name. He loved to nip people. I tried to be good about keeping him in the garage when people came to the house. One day our house was broken into (Beowulf had been banished to the garage because it was cleaning people day.) When the police came to investigate, I had Beowulf on a leash. Generally, if Beowulf knew you or if you were in the house for a while, he would be good and not nip. So, I let Beo off the leash. Unfortunately the policeman's partner who had been walking the perimeter of the house came in. Off went Beo. It wasn't just that he bit the cop, it was where he bit the cop. Yes, there, in that most tender of male parts. The policeman said a bad word and then apologized for his language. I was thankful that he hadn't shot Beo immediately and then shot the rest of us. Beo had flea allergies that plagued him. We shaved him during the summer. He wore Tshirts to cover his embarrassment. He also had arthritis. When it was time, he just lay down and went to sleep. I was grateful because I didn't have to make the decision that was coming in just a few days anyway. After we had had Beo for a while, we found out that the breeder did too much inbreeding and the dogs were notorious for being a bit crazy and having flea allergies. One day on the otherside of the country when I was in seminary, I was biking along Corte Madera trail and saw a guy walking a dog like Beo. I stopped to chat with him. He had gotten his dog from the same breeder in Ohio as Beo. I didn't tell him about the problems to come.