January 30, 2014

My Poor Pets - A Cautionary Tail/Tale

Mama Kat provides the inspiration today with her prompt A childhood pet...where are they now?

They're dead, Mama Kat (just like most of my childhood hopes and dreams). I'm 56 years old. Unless I was a zookeeper's kid, and got to care for giant tortoises and great apes, any pet I would have had as a child has been dead and gone for decades.

We had many pets that crossed our family's threshold when I was a child, but they never stayed long. Here's how it usually went:

"Mom, Dad, we'll take care of them! You'll never have to clean up poop or feed them or anything! We'll love them and take great care of them!"

Inevitably, our parents caved under the earnest pleadings of my brother Greg and I, and a furry or feathered critter would join the family. Good intentions were the order of the day.

Then reality set in, and poop appeared. Water dishes were not promptly filled, teeth marks showed up on furniture legs.

And my mom had had enough.

And our new BFF (best furry friend) would simply vanish. Gone without a trace. 

No goodbye, no last weeping hug.

She'd snatch them up while we were at school and they'd go for a "ride" in the car. She'd dump them in a rural area, and get the hell outta there.

Imagine the horror when my mom gleefully described how she'd do it.

Some of the animals who suffered a fate that they didn't deserve:

Princess Tigerlily, a kitten (named after I watched Mary Martin fly across the stage in Peter Pan).
A feisty dachshund that lived with us when I was in first grade (I've blocked out his name). He was a mean little dog, and spent most of his time in the basement.
Fifi, a miniature poodle.
Snoopy, a cockapoo.
Buddy, a bunny rabbit my brother Gary gave me for Easter.

Only two pets avoided the ride in my mom's car:

Petey, a parakeet. One of my mom's co-workers got him - and I heard later that he died, his cage atop a radiator in John's house.

The biggest personal trauma involved Bambi, a Pomeranian I had in 6th grade. I watched in horror as Bambi was abducted from our front yard, and put into a car. I pitched quite a fit over that - and my dad paid me $20 for my silence. My mom had arranged for Bambi's new owner to pick her up, and made sure that I had taken her outside at the right moment.

When my mom was especially crazy, I half expected her to dump me off in the woods, too. And sometimes, I wished she had.

Needless to say, I was determined not to repeat my mom's performance as judge, jury and executioner of pets.

I had learned that it was best to not get attached to our pets, because they wouldn't be staying long. To this day, I do not have a strong attachment to animals. I am kind to them, and I make sure that they have food and water and all that they need to thrive. I made the neutering appointment for granddaughter Desiree's dog during the vet's "Happy Neuter Year" event.

Shannon and Erin had cats when they were growing up - and we kept them for many years. When Erin moved out, she took Ashley and Pena to her dad's house, where they lived the rest of their lives.

You will never hear me gush about pets. I abhor cruelty, but you won't see me being affectionate around animals. It just doesn't happen. I'm sure it started in childhood, when I learned that it didn't feel safe to do that back then. The lesson has remained with me.

Eddy, our cat, will be 10 years old this year - we've had her since she was a wee kitten. A former babysitter rescued her and gave her as a gift for The Boy's birthday. I had no desire to have a cat - but there she was, what was I to do? It's not like I was going to drive into the country and hope that a kind resident in the area would take her in.

That would be nuts...and cruel...and unforgivable. And back then, it was, too.

I talk to Eddy, and she meows back at me. I occasionally pet her. She's far more dog than cat, she welcomes visitors and comes when she's called. I chase her when she escapes through the open screen door, and I summon The Boy to get the kitchen chair to stand on so he can get her off the roof when she's too afraid to jump down (stupid cat). I've softened, and do what I can.

Eddy, doing her Penthouse covergirl impression (such a slut)

But I'm sure that Eddy's the end of the line for me. She's beaten the odds by living with me longer than any other pet in my lifetime (not counting the children). I figure she's the last pet I'll ever own; maybe one day, The Boy will move out on his own and take her with him. But if she stays, when it's time for Eddy to go to kitty heaven, there will be no more furbabies to cuddle, no glistening streaks of puke to clean up.

It's just too hard.

Eddy, looking fat and sassy (lazy, too)

Eddy would love it if you clicked Mama Kat's link at the top and checked out all the great responses to her prompts! She told me so.


  1. All those pets! I can see how that would be sad and difficult for sure. I'm not sure if I was supposed to think the opening was humorous or not - but I kind of did. "They're dead..." Of course they are. And when I considered this post prompt, that was the first thing I thought, too! I had two goldfish. It didn't end well for them. I never wanted fish again...

  2. I'm not really much of a "pet" person, especially not birds since they scare me. :)
    Sounds like you have had some fun furry (and not so furry) friends through the years.

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's Linky.

  3. I'm not really a pet person either, and (so far) I've managed to avoid my boys' pleadings for a cat/dog/ferret/turtle/rabbit/whatever. I'm holding firm, but they haven't stopped trying.

  4. I completely understand how attachment disorder happens. Every pet we had disappeared, too. Oh well we survived.

  5. I had a miniature poodle named FiFi too.

  6. I'm laughing because I think ALL of our childhood pets are dead. Not sure where I was going with that prompt. Every response I've read so far has been about how a beloved childhood pet has died. Why do these posts bring me joy? I'm clearly sick.

  7. Your mother sounds like mine. Never a dull moment! Loved this post!

  8. Kim--I was raised with a family dog--had one or two all my childhood, and I still love dogs and cats.

    (Eddy DOES look like a happy cat.)


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