I saw it was National Dog Day last week. I have what I think are interesting pet stories, so I wrote them for my kids. Hope you’ll find them interesting too.
I loved having pets while I was growing up. My first memory of a pet is a kitten I was very excited about having. She was black and white and very soft.
However, she wasn’t with us very long before she displayed some aggressive behavior. While my mom was walking down the stairs one day, the cat jumped onto her back and clung on with its claws. She also had a habit of weaving repeatedly around feet, among other things. It was decided that the cat would be happier on the farm of some church friends. We said goodbye and away she went to bigger and greener fields to run in. I was disappointed but content that the cat would live a better life there.
Another pet was a springer spaniel dog named Maggie. She was also black and white and very furry. She had a great disposition and was quite well behaved from what I remember. She was an outside dog with a nice house and pen in our back yard. We lived where winters could be harsh. I remember that when the temperature dropped below a certain point, the dog was allowed to join our family inside our comfortable house for the night. She would quietly lay on the floor between the beds in the room that my sister and I shared. It was as much a treat for us as it was for her.
I loved that dog. One morning, I was running late for school and my mom, being helpful, decided to give me a ride instead of me walking to school and arriving late. We got in the car, Mom started it, put it in reverse and THUMP! The dog had been behind the car and died quickly with its impact. It was a rough day at school as I was grieving the loss of a loved pet and shouldering the blame for being the reason the car had to move that morning.
Somewhere around that time, I was given the responsibility of a fish. He likely had an average length life for a goldfish, and it only temporarily satisfied my desire for a pet.
I wanted a cat so badly that my parents tried again. Buffy was named for his buff color and he was happy to follow me around.
Things went okay with him until we moved into a new house. His claws were not welcome inside with the new floorings and draperies and letting him run the neighborhood was not an option for my parents who sensibly didn’t want to be considered inconsiderate in our new neighborhood. We certainly didn’t want to send away another cat. There was a large workshop and garage at the back of the new house. We all thought it was ample room for the cat to live and roam. On rough days, I would go to the workshop after school to find Buffy, who seemed like my only friend during that time. Buffy would quickly come sit on my lap and I was always comforted by the warmth and purring of his soft body.
Every day, I let the cat outside to romp and play. When it was time for me to leave, I would pick him up, take him inside and close the garage door. It had become more difficult to get him back inside. One day, he did not want to go back. When I went to pick him up, he turned on me, violently biting and scratching my hand with both paws. I could do nothing more than stare in shock and loudly scream. My father, who did not know the reason for the bloodcurdling shrieks of distress coming from the basement, grabbed his gun and ran to rescue his daughter. He kicked the apparent feral cat off of my hand and shot him to protect us and anyone else who might have encountered him if he had been allowed to go free. My mother whisked me into the house and ran us both to a sink where she tried to rinse the blood dripping generously from the many scratches and puncture wounds on my hand and arm. While the space he lived in seemed satisfactory to us, it may not have been sufficient for his needs. Even with a lot of attention, he may have been driven mad enough to turn on me. I felt terrible for the cat and was sad for myself. Each time I ventured into that area of the house after that, the drops of blood on the stained concrete were grave reminders of that traumatic moment when the pet I loved turned on me – the shock, the gunshot….the loss of a treasured friend. The emotional and physical scars from that experience remain with me today.
My mom remembers that it happened on a weekend. She had to wrap the cat’s body and put it in the freezer until it could be sent for testing to make sure it didn’t have rabies. Thankfully, it did not.
Awhile after that, we welcomed an inside dog, a schnauzer.
The first one had a run-in with a car after it bolted out the front door one day. I ran after him, but the top of the hill and the car on the other side of it took him by surprise. It happened right in front of my aunt and uncle’s house and, being distraught, I went to their door with my lifeless dog’s body in my arms. I don’t know what I expected them to do, and I don’t recall how they responded to the surprising interruption of their day. There was no mistaking that the dog was gone and there was nothing they could do to help. I walked back home, the dog’s body still in my arms and tears flowing over the loss of another friend.
Our second schnauzer, thankfully, lived well into old age.
I’m glad my parents let me experience having pets. There were a number of unhappy endings, but the pets were all loved and cared for and my parents persisted. The animals provided comfort, love and some lessons along my life’s road.
Read my next post for the rest of the story.