Writer’s Note: In several columns recently, I have written about pets and their importance to their humans. Since then, I have received a number of great personal stories from many of you about your special pets and what they have meant to you. Here’s a selection of those stories. — GP
Jane Goodall, anthropologist and primatologist, once wrote, “You cannot share your life with a dog . . . or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.”
That has certainly been my experience. The cats and dogs that have been a part of my life — some within my household, and others “shared” with me by their owners — have all had distinct personalities. In addition, I am convinced that they all had minds and feelings. Just one look at a cat or dog’s face after it has felt disappointment is all it takes to realize that truth.
When I asked Tim McIlveene which of his pets was his favorite, this was his reply: “Gosh that’s a hard question! I’ve loved them all but for different reasons. It seems like a pet comes into your life at just the right time and fills a need you didn’t even know you had!
Writer Thom Jones felt the same way. Jones wrote, “Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them and filling an emptiness we didn’t even know we had.” Often in trying times, a pet can be a great comfort.
To ‘rescue’ works
Burg and Carol Ransom have a special dog that they adore and that adores them. “Gator” is a rescue pup who needed the Ransoms as much as they needed him. Burg was at the cabin on the family river property on a cold and rainy night when Gator “found” him. The dog was obviously a “throw away” dog who needed a friend. Burg invited Gator in and shared his peanut butter crackers and the cabin’s warmth.
Carol said that the next morning, she was awakened by a big, wet kiss from a dog she had never met. Burg had decided to bring Gator home to live. “I’ve been smitten by this sweet, bossy, loving four-legged comedian ever since,” Carol says. “He’s now a little old man!” Incidentally, Burg had intended to name the dog “Croc” but once she saw him, his mother Adele named him “Gator”. Mother knows best!
For Linda Hart-Berkemeyer, dogs have always been important members of her family. Among those, her favorite was Sassy, a black and white boxer who actually rescued Linda. Linda got her shortly after her first husband’s tragic death.
Sassy became her constant companion, making her laugh, licking away her tears, and showing her unconditional love when she needed it most. “Losing Sassy after 12 years was very hard for me, but I knew she was now well and ‘running in the rain’. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog,” Linda says. “I truly believe that God sends them to us to show us how to love.”
with our pets
Several pet lovers literally grew up along with their beloved pets. Charris Glass happily shared her story.
Charris got her yellow Labrador for her 9th birthday. Named “Babe”, the puppy and Charris shared both the joys and misfortunes that come along with growing up.
Along their journey together, Babe was hit by a car and lost her ability to chew for some months. “I spoon-fed her every day for months until she could chew for herself,” Charris says. “Even after that, she was so spoiled from being spoon-fed that I pretty much did it for her for the rest of her life.”
When Babe was an elder dog, she developed arthritis that limited her movements. In spite of the pain, when Charris would go outside, Babe would slowly get up and go to her. “It took her a while to get up and get to me, but she did it,” Charris adds. When Charris was 21, she laid outside with Babe as she breathed her last. “Babe knew all of my secrets,” Charris remembers. “I sang to her until she died. We loved each other.”
Doug Stockton remembers growing up with a pair of beagles, Baby Face and Bozo. When Doug was young, the family had a trailer at South Padre Island. He loved the freedom there — no leash laws and his beagles right by his side as he went everywhere! “We would run through the sand dunes playing pirates,” Doug remembers. “When I swam at the cove, they would be right there in the water with me.” The trio would chase crabs together, having a great time. At night, the beagles would be tied up.
“They would never chew through their leash,” Doug says. “We would head out again the next morning, early. Great times growing up!”
George Eliot was right — “Animals are such agreeable friends. They ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” All children should experience the friendship — and companionship — of beloved pets.
Pets learn tricks,
but teach us more
Sometimes pets are eager learners; at other times, they are eager teachers. The trick is for humans to learn to pay attention and really listen to their pet’s “language”.
Becky Dance treasured Tanager, a boxer. What Becky misses the most about Tanager was her devotion. Tanager assumed the role of guardian for Becky and her grandchildren, and took that role seriously.
“If the kids were outside playing and anyone pulled into our drive, she sat glaring at the vehicle until I got out to the driveway,” Becky explains. Becky laughs that people respected Tanager’s glare!
Everyone “read” Tanager’s message, loud and clear. What Becky respected most was Tanager’s intelligence and willingness to defend her “people”. Oliver Tremble wrote, “A dog is loyal to and would fiercely defend those who it loves.” Tanager embodied that.
For Pam Hansen, a yellow lab puppy was her favorite. Every day, Pam and her puppy would walk down the driveway together so Pam could get the newspaper. After a short while, the young dog would run ahead of Pam and get the paper for her. “After a while, I just opened the door and she knew what to do,” Pam remembers. “Later she decided that she should do it for the neighbors as well.”
Angie Lingenfelder loves dachshunds and has owned (or been owned by!) several. Among them, her favorite was Pumpkin. Angie got her for her 20th birthday, and Pumpkin lived 18 years. Pumpkin was Angie’s “baby” even after Angie’s daughter, Caroline, was born. The dog had a special trick. She loved peppermints, and learned to take them out of the candy dish and unwrap them herself. “Pumpkin and I shared nearly ½ of my life together before I had to make the extremely hard choice to let her cross over the rainbow bridge,” Angie says. “Her arthritis finally became too much for her.”
Doug Harvey also loves dachshunds. When he got the dachshund he has today, the question of what to name the pup became the topic of much discussion in his family. “The kids came up with several names, but we finally settled on ‘Oscar’,” Doug explains. “After all, he is a wiener dog!” Today Oscar has a tag that reads “Oscar Meyer Harvey”.
Doug says that everyone loves Oscar but that Oscar just loves hanging out with him on a walk or on the couch. “Oscar and I are best buddies. He is always the happiest person to see me come home — with Jennifer being a close second.”
Although Diane Paschall has a cat, it is her labradoodle Rosie that has the largest part of her heart. Diane says that having Rosie around is a little like having a 2-year-old nearby. She is precocious and just a tad devious, apparently. Rosie has taught Diane to sing to her (“. . . actually about her — it’s not ‘You are my Sunshine’, it’s “You are my Rosie’” Diane says). Rosie loves to watch television (the movie, Cruella, is her favorite), chase squirrels, and bite the water hose. She follows Diane everywhere, except when she is distracted by the cat and gives chase. “Rosie cries when I leave, and has her very own party when I arrive home,” Diane says. “She has my heart, and she’s my little (well, kind of big) girl.”
about those cats
“What greater gift than the love of a cat?” wrote Charles Dickens. Apparently, most believe that cats don’t give love as unconditionally as dogs. Only one friend — Carole Crow — shared a story about her favorite cat.
Carole’s cat was a dark calico named “Mao Tse” (aka “Mousey”) because of her coloring. Another reason for this clever name was that a neighbor had a dog named “Foo Manchu” because of his mustache.
Carole says that Mousey loved heights and spent lots of time on the roof or on top of fences, surveying her domain. The fence between Carole’s yard and the neighbor next door was Mousey’s particular favorite because of its perfect vantage point from which to “worry” the neighbor’s dog. “I thought it was cute, but it wasn’t so funny when Mousey would get up there on Saturday morning and his frantic barking would wake us up!” Carole says.
There have been countless jokes about the differences between dogs and cats, but everyone agrees that their own pets are the very best. According to theimportantsite.com pets are important to people for several reasons.
Pets help people manage loneliness, reduce stress at home and in the workplace, help improve mental health, bring people together, improve longevity, prevent allergies, improve physical shape, offer protection to the household, and positively impact a child’s development.
Linda Blair wrote, “It’s difficult to understand why people don’t realize that pets are gifts to mankind.” Indeed, it is.