Thursday, January 7, 2010

The furry loved ones

As a kid growing up, we had animals, but not really pets, if that makes sense. My sister J had been given 2 dogs for a birthday once, a brother and sister we named Micky and Heidi. A few years ago, she asked us sisters about those dogs, because she had never wanted a dog and was basically frightened of them. Why my parents (or probably my dad) thought it was a good idea to get her a dog (or two!) is still a mystery to us.

In any case, we had 2 dogs, but when we moved into our house in Sunland, we must have sold Heidi to a neighbor. Didn't matter ... neighborhood dogs then just ran around free outside, no keeping them in the house, etc. Micky just dug out under the fence to get out with his "pals" anyway. Back in those days, no one thought about training a dog and having them part of the family, at least not in my family. I never really remember hugging our dog. He was just ... there.

We also had other animals over the years: a mule, 2 horses, chickens (ugh, hated that ... gathering eggs, cleaning the coop), a stray cat or two, maybe even a duck), but never a pet.

As an adult, I never wanted a pet. I lived in apartment buildings that didn't allow pets, and it just never seemed right for me. I guess I didn't want the responsibility, but I do remember at one time thinking I might want a cat at some point, if only to have some other sense of "life" in my house. Nothing ever came of it, though. I was too lazy to move and too scared to consider it further, I think.

When I met C, he had pets. He had cats, two of them. Luckily I'm not allergic, because I think that might have been a deal-breaker, or else I'd be taking allergy medicine to combat the sneezes. The cats, Beastie and Ting Ting, were quite benign. They weren't the type of cats to jump all over you or meow until you want to scream ... they just ... were. I had to learn how to pet a cat, because I'd never had one before. I had to learn how to hold them and just exist with them in their home. Looking down when I walk in the house is now second nature, but it wasn't easy at first. I tripped over the cats constantly at the start.

Beastie was actually quite a social cat, once he got used to you. After being around him a while, he would jump up and lay next to me on the couch and I found I really liked that. It was different for me. Ting Ting was never as social as Beastie, but in his own way, he accepted me. He would rest on my lap as I watched TV, for at least 20 minutes and then move down to sleep by my feet. As he was less of a "people cat" than Beastie, I felt like I was really making headway into the whole pet thing that he'd accepted me so well.

Living with pets is still a learning experience for me, even though I've lived with them for nearly 7 years now. Beastie and Ting Ting are no longer with us, which saddens me, but we have a puppy to fill the empty spaces. His name is Philo and boy, are dogs different than cats! Cats are so self-sufficient, but dogs need lots of open affection. I love Philo to death, but I still feel that bit of reserve in me when I hold him or pet him. I think it's an inherited trait. My mother was never an animal lover. Not that she hated animals, but I think she was scared of them. There's a picture of her as a young girl, visiting a farm with her brother. Her brother is holding a little piglet and my mother is a good 5 feet away from him, in the picture but nowhere near the piglet. Just not her cup of tea. I can understand that feeling a bit, especially when I'm around big or enthusiastic dogs, or cats who jump high, and so on. It's out of my comfort zone, but I'm slowly learning.

I'll never have children, but I have my "furkids" and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

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