Ode to My Pets

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< Something is wrong with my chick!”

My mother, still asleep in bed, opened her eyes to my seven year old self dangling a purple Easter chickie inches above her face.

“It’s dead,” was her reply.

“Eeeeewwww!” screamed little me, immediately releasing it upon her unsuspecting face.
There’s a reason why they don’t allow purple, pink, and blue chickies during the Easter season any more because of high mortality rates. Why I was allowed to have a purple chickie while living in a high-rise apartment building, I’ll never know. Had she survived her purpleness, there couldn’t have been a bright future ahead of her.

My childhood was full of pets. Multiple bunnies, turtles, and goldfish. Others included a sea horse and a canary, and always a dog, but never a cat. My mother’s childhood Persian had a “crazy fit” one day and Grandmother called Grandad the sheriff who took the cat away, and no one ever spoke of the results. Cruel boys on the playground, however, did suggest the nearby Mississippi River.

Tried to ride Pudd the Dachshund-like a horse and still have the facial scars to document his response. Pepe Levine the Jewish poodle was adopted from my grandmother’s friend because I had wanted a poodle so badly. On my seventh birthday I received Coquette “Cokie” the French toy poodle (in the ’60s the dog was always introduced as a French poodle … with a pedigree) who survived until I was married.

The Kinleystead has seen Tifhy the Lhasa Apso (RIP … who loved to bite my boys’ rear ends. After baths they would run naked through the house screaming with Tifhy following behind), Pepper the Cocker Spaniel (now blind, who the Kinley boys wish RIP upon because she is twelve and still not housetrained), and Mac the Labradoodle (adored, spoiled by all, promoted to human status).

I think all families should have pets. Their chirps, their licks, their dependence, their humor all breathe life into a household.

At the pinnacle of the Kinleystead’s pet keeping there were two dogs, two birds, three bunnies, and a revolving door of lizards, frogs, and abandoned baby birds. No cats. No ferrets. No snakes or tarantulas. No rodents with tails.

I am a very faithful pet caregiver, so I was surprised to recount how many Kinleystead pets had met “untimely” or even violent departures.

  • P.J. Funnybunny: “The flies have killed my bunny!” screamed five year old Clayton from the Kinleystead backyard … too much sun.
  • Spot the Bunny: gone after only two days … too much birthday party.
  • Puddles, Toot, and Flops (all bunnies): ripped violently out of cages by unknown animals.
  • Cotton and Brownie (also bunnies): sent to the rabbit adoption center when one hissed … didn’t know they did that … at me; the other leapt through the air and bit Flops who I was holding … scary.
  • Noah the Lovebird: nicknamed “Vampire” because his beak drew so much blood from any hand that came near his cage. He deserves his own blog post … stay tuned.
  • Ringo the Quaker Parrot: oh … what a story … he will definitely have his own post!
  • Little Caesar the Tail-less Hamster: bought for a book report visual and lasted two years … think that’s all that can be expected out of a hamster.
  • Grumm the also Tail-less Hamster: replaced Little Caesar, escaped a lot, and got on his squeaky wheel at precisely 9:00 nightly … lasted one-and-a-half years.

Have I mentioned I have always wanted to raise chickens that lay eggs? And I still have a soft spot in my heart for bunnies hopping about the garden. When my nest is empty, I wonder if I will fill it again with pets … hmmm.


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