I was, still am, and always will be, an only child. No brothers, no sisters, no one to wrangle with over who got the window seat in the car, or who Mom liked best--me, of course!! I wasn't born until my mom was 27, which, in those days, meant that not only was I an only child, but I was a "late-in-life-only child". Huge potential for being spoiled rotten, there. So, probably to compensate, we always had lots of pets. Pets of all kinds, not just kitties or puppies. I believe this was meant to turn me into a responsible child who would take care of these various pets and thus become an unspoiled, responsible adult. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. If you could see the amount of fabric in my "stash" you would say it was a lost cause.
The first pet I remember having was a chicken. Now, I was not a farm child who raised cute piggies or goats for 4H. We lived in a little bungalow with a little back yard--and no coop. This pet chicken was the lone survivor of a trio of Easter chicks that some well-meaning relative had given to the poor 3-year-old only child. One was pink, one was blue and one was yellow. Of course, the pink and blue ones promptly died, because of the toxic dye that had been used on them--poor things. But the yellow one--au natural in her actual coloring--survived into adulthood. I named her Susie. She followed me everywhere, when I was outside. She was my friend. I discovered early on that Susie and my doll, Sweetie Pie, wore the same size clothing and even had the same taste in bonnets. So I would dress Susie up, head to toe and wheel her around our neighborhood in my doll buggy. Susie seemed to love all the attention, until one day, she must have tired of it and, as my mother explained, "went to live on a nice farm". I often wondered how she got there.
After that, there was a small, fluffy dog named "Daisy Moppet" and a black and white terrier named "Dolly". But the thing I remember most from that time period was the "Saga of the Multiplying Hamsters". I think my parents must have been rather naive, or else why would they have bought me TWO hamsters? Did they not know they were boy and girl? Did they not know what Hamsters spend their time doing? My Dad, being a handy guy, made them a small wood and wire mesh cage--singular. Pretty soon, we needed more cages. I can remember my Dad, down in his basement workshop, trying to keep up with the demand for more and more hamster housing. There were cages all over the place! Then--all of a sudden they were all gone! I have no idea where they went, but I'm pretty sure they didn't go to "live on the farm" with Susie.
Shortly after that, we were down at the train station, seeing my Great Uncle Claude off, on his return trip to Penn Yann, NY. Down the street, headed for the train wheels, scurried this small, white duck! My Dad was able to grab it, just before disaster struck and held on to it as we waved the train on its' way. He walked around the whole little town (population 746) looking for the owner. No one owned up to the duck. So, of course, the duck came home with us and lived in a pen in the basement until my tidy mother could stand the mess no longer. More trips to "the farm".
Some wonderful dogs and cats came after that. We had a pure white cat named "Smidgin" who was deaf and ran around the back yard in a harness attached to a rope, attached to a pulley on a clothesline. Then a parade of three dashounds, Mitzi, Heidi and Tina. I learned to draw dogs, around that time, and produced great volumes of dashounds doing great adventures. What can I say? Remember, I was an only child.
When I married Tom he was in his last year of medical school. We lived in the upstairs of an old house in Minneapolis. The grouchy landlady lived down. I worked as a designer at Bachman's, and Tom was gone most of the time, finishing up all that important medical stuff, I was lonesome. So, Tom, good soul that he is, got me a kitten, Molly. Molly was a fiesty, little tiger kitty, adorable as they come, but her very favorite thing, when everybody was gone, was to race from the front of the apartment to the back of the apartment and back again, over and over, on the linoleum floors, clickity, clickity click. Drove the landlady crazy--made her even grouchier. So much so, that she gave us an ultimatum--get rid of Molly or get out So Molly went to live on the farm--really!
The other cat in our lives was Sam, whom we inherited from our daughter when she went off to the big city. Sam was the original Angry Cat--a real "don't touch me, don't pet me, don't even look at me" sort of guy. I was making costumes by then, and Sam would perch on the top of a tall cupboard next to my sewing machine, lean over and glare at me, turning into the vulture that Snoopy made so famous.
But now we come to the dogs. The loving, loyal, friends-forever dogs. First, there was Clancy from the pound in Minneapolis, a black and white Spaniel mix, named after our children's favorite TV character, at the time--Clancy the Cop. Clancy saw our kids through all sorts of mischief that we never knew about, until they were of legal age. He loved to party and he never snitched.
Then came the unforgettable MacDuff-large, wirey crossbreed of an English Sheep dog and a black lab--accidental. People would stop me on our walks and ask "WHAT kind of a dog is that?" And, I would say--"he's an original, one-of-a-kind". And he was. How on earth were we going to replace him when his time was up? Why can't they last forever? I'm here to tell you---that's a serious design flaw!
But, you have to try, so, one Winter Day, our son, Pete, and I went to the wilds of Wisconsin--to a farm, actually, to answer an ad for "English sheep dog cross puppies". Wouldn't you know, there were only two left. Pete said, "Mom, you can't leave one puppy all by himself" so we came home with Toby and Dudley. Never--I say never--take your children with you when looking at prospective pets!
Of course, there were the guinea pigs and turtles, the fish and more dogs and more stories-There was Jack, also from the animal shelter, advertised as being neutered, but became part of a huge free-for-all with Toby, who begged to differ. How could I not have noticed THAT?? Jack was a Southern boy, who obviously had never seen snow before, as he refused to step one foot into it. He was so unhappy that he kept running away--- until we finally just let him. Then there was Sweet Rosie O'Grady, who lived in a hole in the ground, chained to a tree, until we adopted her. Rosie was the only dog I ever knew who would bark at a jet trail and convince everyone around her that she could see it.
And Gus. Gus was the epitome of great dogness. Other people would go out and buy Labradoodles after meeting Gus. He was my perfect dog, even if he thought of himself as a lap puppy.
And now, Rudy----born on a farm, (yup!) in Peaver, South Dakota, retrieved and brought home as a Christmas puppy for Gus--who was not impressed.
Rudy was named for one of our Minnesota Governors and is trying his best to "live up"--to both of his good examples. He takes Tom on a walk everyday and comes to my sewing room to tell me it's time to go to bed, if it gets too late. Oh, and he's in charge of the chipmunk count in my garden.
When our family gets together for Thanksgiving or Christmas, there are always at least six or seven dogs attending, also. Two Westies, a Golden, two or three Doodles and a rather large Newfoundland named Riley. They all get along, setting the pecking order up right away. Besides, everybody knows that Maggie, the smallest Westie, calls the shots, and, as you can see, the guy carving the turkey gets all the attention!