Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pets: Who Owns Who?

Earlier this week, i entered a long explanation of why this site and my current status is bringing changes along with what is a radical poem for me. Briefly, we are undergoing some life changes and the site was hacked, sponsoring my rededication to make the site different and hopefully better - with the help of Walker Hicks.
Please read the explanation in the Saturday, June 26, 2010 post, "Hacked and revisions." One change is more frequent entries, aka posts. Today's is below:

Pets: Who Owns Who?

SAN DIEGO – One difference I’ve found between my Southwest corner and growing up in Lebanon is the attitude people have toward pets.

Several years ago, I swore we would have no more pets. As I write, there is a mutt about 11 years old at my feet, an orange tabby staring wistfully out the window at doves tending to their nest in our eave, and this crazed black and white kitten attentively watches my fingers, ready to pounce, and knock something else off of my desk.

None of this would have happened in my youth. Things were different then and there and before. Our parents had pets when growing up, but those were farm pets. They didn’t have rhinestone collars and did not enter the house.

Things changed.


At the 1954 McClain School Halloween Party, my sister won a cocker spaniel puppy in a drawing held by Mrs. Vasti Prichard’s fourth grade class.

I did not think this was fair. Martha wasn’t in the fourth grade. She was in the second grade. Mrs. Vasti’s classroom was across the hall from mine with Mrs. Major. I was older. I wanted the puppy to be mine.

We named him Lucky.

The three children were excited. Our parents were skeptical. Immediately rules were set: no puppy in the living room or dining room; he had to sleep in cloth-padded cardboard box.

The box started out in the basement. The box and puppy eventually made it to the landing just outside the basement door to the kitchen.

We took care of Lucky through the winter. We worried the cold was too harsh even though the furnace was in the basement. I worried the old bedside clock would run down and not provide its comforting ticking.

Spring came as we waited to take Lucky outside to play. But Lucky wasn’t so Lucky after all. He got out on his own and was wiped out by a car when he tried to cross Castle Heights Avenue. My grandmother saw it happened and called my father to take Lucky away before we got home.

It could be the worst time ever. I didn’t stop crying for two days. All three of us were disconsolate, inconsolable.

Shortly afterwards, our father brought home Trixie, a toy terrier to provide us solace. I don’t remember what happened, but Trixie wasn’t there too long.

Later, Martha brought home a kitten. The kitten did not like us and left of its own accord shortly after arriving.


Our household remained pet-less until 1962 when my sister paid $15 for an Eskimo Spitz puppy. They got it from Ethel and Thelma Bass, maternal kin, who lived on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The puppy had long white fur, and Martha named him Cotton. Cotton was very independent. He roamed over the neighborhood – we really didn’t know the scope of his realm – but he came home at night. For a long time, we tethered him to his backyard dog house at night. But he became so reliable he would come home to eat, stay inside (den and kitchen only) for the evening, and sleep on the stoop of the back porch under the carport. In the coldest weather, my father would let Cotton in the back door to sleep inside.

Cotton stayed with the family for 11 years before he died. The three children had grown up and left. In addition to grousing about all of the white fur floating in the den, my parents hid well how much they cared for him.

Indoor/Outdoor Choice

When I married, I became a pet owner. Our pets have had royal treatment compared to Cotton. They have received the greatest care. In fact, I have paid more in veterinarian bills than what I paid for my first three cars.

They all stayed inside at night except the cats, who, up until our last two, roamed where they pleased when they pleased.

In the Southwest corner, we have lost four cats learning they are easy prey for the coyotes, rattlesnakes, hawks, and owls. Now our cats are indoor cats.

My previous lab, an independent cuss like Cotton would escape and roam, but I had to chase him down. Leash laws are prevalent in the Southwest corner. Roaming is not tolerated any more. Dogs don’t do as many dog things. Cats don’t do as many cat things.

It is different.

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