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Thursday, 17 December 2009

The SPCA and Me

By polkadot22

I am a member of the SPCA. Not only the national and regional one, but at least two or three others. I believe this is a fact because I get solicitation letters and/or address labels at least six or so times a year. I don’t really mind receiving this information and making a contribution if I can at the time. But as each envelope arrives, it triggers a memory of the many pets my family has enjoyed over the years.

Oh, I’m not saying we adopted them all from the SPCA or even pet stores. Actually, most of them just arrived on our doorstep and adopted us!

My second child was due and my well meaning in-laws decided that Jeanne needed a dog so she would not be jealous of the new baby. (How many sane and reasonable people think this way?) Oliver arrived in less time than it took me to say, “what breed is the puppy?” “A pedigree collie,” I was told. Returning from our first visit to the vet, “Oliver” was renamed “Olive.”

As time passed this black and white, chubby, fluffy pup took on the appearance of someone needing a serious shave, a very serious shave! The paper-delivery boy looked at me rather strangely as I emphatically declared the now long-legged, bushy-faced, young dog was a pedigree collie. “You know they really do come in different colors!” and I quickly shut the door.

Finally, my husband confessed that this puppy may have been conceived with the help of the old sheepdog who was hanging around the farm. Olive lived a good life for sixteen years. Jeanne came home from college on that last weekend before the decision to release Olive from her pain and confusion. She gently brushed her beloved pet and carpeted her cozy bedroom with newspaper so Olive could spend the night beside her bed.

While Olive continued to be the family pride for many years, Danny, like most boys, wanted a dog of his “very own.” Thus arrived our first (and last) elk hound, Johan (pronounced Yo-Han and affectionately called “Yoey”). Johan was a gift to Danny from his friend Joey (and I’m sure Joey’s mother agreed; but perhaps she would have preferred that we lived more than a stone’s throw away).

Yoey arrived in our household during the hot summer months. He seemed to lack the ability to perspire like most mammals. I believe his sweat glands were on summer vacation! The perspiration camped in his thick dark brown fur and thus, Yoey was a very stinky dog and we could not allow him in the house.

When Yoey disappeared suddenly in less than a year, we were told that he became friendly with a red pickup truck and was driven off sitting proudly in the front seat. I still have my doubts as to how far this “hitchhiking” dog traveled.

One of our most interesting pets was Angel, a white long-haired hamster. Angel was able to lift the lid from her holding cell in the basement and journey around the house usually ending up in my shoes in my closet upstairs at the end of the hallway. She was a smart hamster.

For several years, she avoided our calico cat, Cleo and later Golly, a stray male gray tabby found as a kitten in the parking lot of my husband’s garage. One day, I decided to put a heavy can of varnish on top of Angel’s wired pen. Angel was found dead in her cage when the can tipped and leaked down the side of her pen while she was doing her Houdini act. Of course, I felt terrible. And today, 40 years later, I still am blamed for killing an angel.

Did you ever have a “favorite” pet? King, a loving, gentle, black lab was perhaps one of my favorite dogs. King kept me company as I hung laundry outside on the clothesline (remember when we actually hung our laundry outside?). Later, when it was almost dry, he would try to pull it off and bring it to me.

When I found it necessary to remove myself and the children from a difficult marital situation, King - along with Olive, Golly and two turtles - traveled with us from the Philadelphia area to stay temporarily with family in Pittsburgh.

It was February. A blizzard caught up with us before we got off the turnpike. The dogs seemed to keep the children calm and faith gave me the confidence that things would be okay.

After we were settled with my mother, King proved to be our protector and never left our side except to occasionally “lift” things from the neighbors. Things like an expensive piece of meat, still raw from the neighbor’s grill table; shoes belonging to my niece, from their porch. The kid’s enjoyed telling me that we would “never go hungry, again, Tara.”

Yes, I will always have special memories to enjoy as I write that important check to the SPCA.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

We’ve had numerous pets throughout the years. Two favorites who will forever live in my heart are Valentine (Val) a yellow lab and Maxwell (Max) an orange tabby. They both lived with us for about 15 years. Since Max was found on a city street, I never really knew his age. My husband and I always vow after the death of one of our animals that this is the end…no more animals in our home. We can guess how that usually works. We currently have Cassie, a tuxedo cat from the shelter.
Thank you for sharing your special memories. My important check(s) go to PETA.

What a wonderful, small world. Polkadot22 is my former sister-in-law; still a cherished friend. How great to see her published on one of my favorite blogs!

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