Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Special Canine Pets - Marlene, 72

When I was 10-years-old, my family gave me my very first puppy. She was a rat terrier with white shiny hair and two black spots on her face. She stood about six inches high and weighed about ten pounds with muscular little legs, pointy ears, and a stub of a tail. I named her Suzette. My mother knitted a little coat of grey, trimmed in pink, to fit over her front legs and cover her back for the cold weather. She really looked adorable in her little outfit.

My father was a hunter, and did a lot of hunting in the woods behind our house. One day Suzette followed him into the woods, and to my father's amazement, she began to track deer.  After that, Suzette loved going hunting with my father and brothers, tracking deer and routing out rabbits. It was a cold and snowy winter day when I saw my father carrying Suzette, half frozen, into the house.  I was so upset with my father for letting her go out to hunt on such a cold day, and I was so sure she would die.  My grandmother quickly opened the oven door to the coal stove, placed a thick rug on the floor of the oven, and laid Suzette on the rug. After about twenty minutes, Suzette jumped out of the oven and started happily running around the kitchen. We couldn't believe this little miracle!

As the years went on Suzette continued to hunt with my father, except for very cold days. One fall day Suzette went into a hole after a ground hog. She dug so hard with her little legs in pursuit of the animal that she was stuck and could not turn around to get out.  My father ran home to get a shovel to dig her out, but it was too late. She had suffocated. This was my first experience in losing a beloved pet, and it still makes me feel very sad when I think of her.

To compensate for the loss of Suzette, I was given another terrier for a pet. She was a little taller than Suzette, all shiny black hair with pretty white markings on her face. I named her Sparky because she was always running around like a little spark plug. She became the love of the family, and we all adored her.

When Sparky was about 2-years-old, she suddenly began convulsing on the kitchen floor followed by foaming at the mouth.  I was terrified that she was dying, and there was nothing I could do. She had to be put to sleep shortly after that, and I learned she had become rabid and could not be saved. This was my second sad experience of losing a beloved pet.

Our next family pet was a much larger cocker spaniel with blond curly hair, brown eyes and nose, and a beautiful loving face. We named her Lady. I would bathe Lady in the backyard in a large round metal tub with bubbles flying everywhere. She really enjoyed her baths. Lady also became a hunting dog. When my father would pick up his rifle to go hunting, Lady would get so excited that she would start scratching at the door ready to go. One day my father and uncle went deer hunting and could not take Lady because she would scare the deer away. Lady knew what was going on, so she somehow managed to sneak out of the house, get into the car, and hide on the floor of the back seat. She was not discovered until they arrived at their destination several miles away.

Lady lived to a ripe old age of twenty-two.  By this time, she had lost her sense of smell, her hearing, and she was mostly blind. We did not have the heart to put her to sleep, so we lovingly cared for her until she passed away from old age.  What a tremendous loss we all felt that day.

Shortly after my husband and I were married, we adopted an adorable little black mutt with a bushy tail, beautiful little face with a pointed nose, brown eyes, and perfect little white trimming over the eyebrows, white chest and belly. We named her Jonesy. She was just a baby when we got her, and she missed her mother.  We kept her in a box by the side of the bed, and my husband had to keep his hand in the box to keep her from crying at night. (The clock we had placed in the box that was supposed to mimic her mother’s heart had no effect.)

Jonesy welcomed our children to the family, and was very friendly and playful with them. I never had to sweep the floor around the highchair with Jonesy around.

Jonesy was loved by all of the children in the neighborhood, and Jonesy loved everybody. The children would ring the doorbell and ask if Jonesy could come out to play, and they often saved some of their lunch from school to feed her. Jonesy was with us for 12 years before she passed away from cancer. It was a terribly sad loss for me.
It seems to be harder to bear the loss of a beloved pet as we grow older; at least it is that way with me.  I have given up pets for many years now, as I don't think I can bear another loss. We live in a secluded townhouse community where there are as many dogs and cats as people. I get my fix now by enjoying and interacting with other people's pets.

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