Friday Letter to my Kids
Dear J, J, L and L,
After Sunday’s hour long downpour and subsequent temporary pond creation, nearly every member of the neighborhood walked past or around or through the park/pond. I couldn’t help but notice how many dogs accompanied the humans. I see people walking their dogs every day all day at the park since it’s right outside our front door. I just had no idea quite so many lived here as I saw concentrated in one Sunday evening. I’d guess three out of four neighbors house one or more dogs.
Clearly, that puts our family in the minority.
Since one of you recently adopted a blingy blond princess dog, (Blondie) and one of you has a ginormous, slobbery, loveable dog named after a beer, (Pabst) as well as a cute but moody cat (Penelope Buttercup) I’ve thought some about the few pets we’ve had over the years.
I suppose first I ought to discuss the elephant in the room, or more concisely, the dog not in the room.
I know, I know, we never owned a dog.
That’s more your Dad’s doing than mine. I’d have probably relented, against my better judgment, if it had just been me making those decisions.
There were various dogs in my household growing up, one or two of which produced some slightly traumatic experiences. (Being home alone when the small Beagle began birthing the babies of the biggest dog in the neighborhood didn’t go over well in my pre-facts-of-life brain.)
Anyway. No dogs for your growing up years. And look, you survived!
Cue the orchestra.
Nope. No dogs.
Instead Parakeets blessed our household. Bright green Sunny lived up to his namesake by being a ray of chipperness and laughs. I loved how you used to build Lego mazes for him to search through to get to the inanimate love of his life, a bell. Weirdest relationship on the planet.
I’ll never forget when he flew out the open garage door and Little J followed him through the neighborhood, climbed a forty-foot tree (what was I thinking?) and got him to climb on her hand. Completely inspired, she tucked him into her shirt and shimmied down the tree and ran home. Talk about heroic love!
I’m not sure if we can count “Suffer” as a real pet, since it was a stray that hung out by the back door that we occasionally fed. And occasionally bought medicine to put in its food. And occasionally, on really cold snowy days, let in the house if the parakeet was in its cage. It remained a stray when we moved cross-country. I didn’t really feel too guilty sending it back to its free and wily ways of mooching off whatever neighbor took compassion on it.
I learned a few years later that three-year old Big L’s naming of “Suffer” wasn’t in reference to his mangy, tattered countenance, but a reference to Disney Cinderella’s cat “Lucifer.” Say it out loud like you just found a dead mouse and you’ll see where she came up with the name.
Maverick, the blue parakeet, escaped the same way as Sunny, but we never saw feather nor tail of her again. And Blossom, another blue, met a most unfortunate demise, which also might require calls to therapists if I ever divulge in what state I found her.
After Sunny passed away, with the requisite burial in a box in the side yard, we didn’t have any more pets for a while.
That is, until the fish. Teenaged Little J had a spell with that saltwater tank. But it’s tough to bond with fish and crabs and snails. And that thing never smelled very good.
And Little L had that poor oxygen deprived goldfish that was more depressing that cheering, about exactly the opposite of its intended purpose. And then a few other nameless, nothing whatsoever like Nemo the Disney cartoon personality-filled fishies, swam in and out of our lives for a brief spell.
And finally, two more parakeets who, thanks to Dad and his overly generous and somewhat sidetracked nature, flew out of their open cage that he’d set out on the back patio during an extra windy day.
Thus ended the Tilby family pet saga.
A predominate theme with all but the saltwater fish and the cat: Mom did the majority of cleaning.
Not happy memories there.
At least with human children the poop eventually becomes the child’s own task. With pets, it’s forever the job of the human to clean up the piles and putrefaction.
Give me kids any day.
Bottom line. I’m happy if you’re happy in your pet-filled or pet-less lives.
P.S. Thank you for not asking me to experience snakes, pigs, rats, rabbits, mice, hamsters, miniature deer or tarantulas as pets.
“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.” ~Christopher Hitchens