Childhood Pets

I love to document life, in videos, writing, art and photos so I am jumping on this thoughtful and inspiring project, Mom Before Mom, started by Carla at All of Me Now.

See the Mom Before Mom category for more of my posts in this series:

How did you get your name?
How did you celebrate childhood birthdays?
What was your childhood bedroom like?
What was your favorite home cooked meal?

The Family CarChildhood Sick Days

This Week’s Prompt: Did you have a favorite childhood pet? A crazy one? What were their names? Tell us a story about your animal companions or lack their of.

cats, black and white cat, tootsie, pet named tootsie, deaf cat, mites in cats ears

Beth took this picture of Tootsie. I think he’s sleeping in a dress-up cheerleader pom pom.

I’m allergic to cats, really allergic, but we had a cat for most of my growing up years. When I went away to college, I realized how much better I could breathe without cats. Coming home for holidays I had to be out of the house for chunks of time, the cats got to stay, I went out for air. Yet thinking back, I truly have fond memories of our childhood pets. Somehow, dumb as it sounds, I don’t really think we credited our kitties with how bad my asthma was, or we simply loved them too much.

Before the cats, there was Nicky, a husky, a sweet dog who would come to my grandparents with us sometimes, he was well-behaved and knew he wasn’t allow to leave the kitchen.

One day Nicky snapped at our neighbor, a boy my age. It was hot and he was throwing rocks at the dog, but after that incident, we had to give Nicky to another family with no children. My sister, brother and I spent many weekends at my grandparent’s house, and one day a dog that looked so much like Nicky showed up in the back yard. The details are all fuzzy, but my grandmother invited the dog in for a treat and he wouldn’t leave the kitchen! We were amazed, apparently the new family lived nearby and we were able to see Nicky a couple of times after he moved away from home.

Then the cats. We never had more than one at a time, yet since we had several through the years, apparently we didn’t have very long-lived cats. There was an orange cat named Ginger, I can’t remember his story at all, just a picture in my head and his name. Then we had a sweet black and white cat who we named after a favorite childhood story book character: White Faced Simmony. It comes from Master of All Masters, a book memory that makes me smile.husky dog, dog biting, dog rules, obedient dog, giving a dog away, finding a dog after givng him away,

We lost White Faced Simmony to an accident the details of which I remember more from retelling than from living through it. My Dad had pulled the car out into the driveway where it ran while everyone was getting settled in, gathering things and coming outside. White Faced Simmony had gone under the car unnoticed for warmth. Because the engine had been running, creating a steady sound, he wasn’t frightened away as the car began to move.

The snip-it of memory that I have is being in the backseat and my Dad being so upset and running out of the car as he realized what had happened. As young kids we didn’t fully grasp what was going on in the moment.

For a while after that, I think we were pet-less. Then my parents got me a green parakeet for my 13th birthday. I felt so grown up and so proud to have my own pet. I named him, ever so originally, Celery. He wasn’t even a celery green, but a vibrant green. My thirteen year old naming creativity.

After my initial dependability in caring for him, I started to taper off, my parents would remind me to change his water and give him more food. Over and over. And over.

Finally, one night my Dad made me skip dinner and told me that since I hadn’t fed Celery, he wasn’t going to feed me. I remembered after that. (Mostly).

Thinking back helps me to be more understanding of my own kids’ behaviors now. I tend to expect a lot of them and using myself at their age as a bench mark can help me put things into perspective. (Oh, I’ll still expect a lot from them, but at least I can recognize when they’re making a good faith effort and take a deep breath before calling them back to finish a job.)

Then, there was Tootsie. My sister had a friend with a litter of kittens. In fact, I think it was usually Beth over the years who brought home the kitten and convinced my parents to keep him. When Beth brought this adorable black and white kitten home, my Mom couldn’t say no.

green parakeet, pet names, caring for a bird, bird for kids, parakeet on perch, birds in the house, He got his name because we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl and it was around the time when Dustin Hoffman played a man and a woman in the 1982 hit film “Tootsie.” We did learn later that He was a He, unfortunate name for a boy.

When we brought Tootsie to the vet as a kitten, we learned he’d had ear mites. We treated them but he already had hearing damage by the time he came to us. A deaf cat thumps, startles, and could never sneak up on a mouse. He’d tralumph down the steps and march into a room; our beloved Tootsie didn’t have a lot of the innate “cat qualities” because of his deafness.

He lived longest of all of our childhood pets and really become part of the family; despite my inability to breathe around him, I loved him. We all left home for college, and came home to Tootsie. My Dad, who always professed to not be a fan of cats, became his biggest fan and snuggler; which made it even harder when Tootsie started lumbering around in a new way, and tipping to one side. The doctor diagnosed a tumor.

He was our last childhood pet.


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