National Pet Owners Day

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So today is National Pet Owners Day. I didn’t even know this day of recognition existed. Did you? I think, and I’m not certain, but I think that almost every day of the year is some type of “day” of recognition. I’m undecided if it’s a good thing or not – I guess if nothing else it keeps things interesting.

But anyway, this day got me to thinking about pets….the ones I’ve had over the years, my current pet and of course what I would own if I could have any pet in the world.

My first pet was a bird. Now don’t mistake “bird” with one that you would purchase in a pet store. No no, I didn’t have a parakeet or a finch or cute little lovebirds. Nope, I had a baby robin because you see it had fallen out of its’ nest during a storm and of course the mama was done with it at that point. I discovered it next to the tree in my grandparents’ backyard. My grandpa helped me collect it and we put it in a bingo hopper. And again, don’t confuse this hopper with the ones that are massively large industrial size hoppers that are for fire hall bingo nights. This was a little tiny thing, round….about the size of a large cantaloupe. And I named him Rupert; after the boy on Little House on the Prairie that at the time I suppose I thought was really cute. Anyway, I fed Rupert with a medicine dropper and rather quickly he graduated to needing worms and such. I was never a very squeamish little girl so I handled that okay. But, it wasn’t all that long until Rupert was big enough to fly and my grandpa told me I needed to let him go. Admittedly, for a little girl who loved her bird, that day sucked. But Rupert quickly took off, strong and healthy and I was a wee bit proud too. I felt like I had saved him from certain death.

Not terribly long after Rupert went back to the wild I decided I really wanted a kitten. I think I wanted one because I was a girl and all of my other girlfriends wanted or had kittens. Kittens kind of seem to be the girly pet right? Soft and cuddly, cute little faces, low maintenance……. So  my parents (who are NOT cat people) eventually gave in and brought me the cutest little gray kitty with big eyes and a bushy tail. I honestly don’t know if it was a girl or a boy. But I do know this. I was terrified. At first I was so excited….and I found some string because that’s what kittens play with on all the television shows I had seen. So I get this string and I begin to walk around the house. The kitten (who hadn’t even been given a name yet) began chasing the string. Except you see I thought the kitty was chasing ME and I didn’t put it together that it was the string it was after. And well….the kitty coming after me with what I knew were sharp little claws on those sweet little paws gave me a fright. So I walked faster….and the kitty chased faster….and then I ran…..and the kitty ran….and then I jumped onto the sofa screaming that the devil kitty wouldn’t stop chasing me and I was crying and……well…..it didn’t get much better from there. I believe the kitty resided in our home for about 4 hours until we begged my grandma to take it in. She did of course and the kitty turned out to be quite docile and lazy with very little remnant of the devil kitty visible.

Over the next several years I had dogs. I did much better with them even though they are high energy, nippy, barky, high maintenance pets. Go figure. But I’ve had Benji, a Yorkshire Terrier (holy cow those little things can yip for hours!) and I had Ruff, a Llewellyn Setter (he was a bird dog). My dad wanted to use Ruff for grouse hunting in addition to him being a family pet. That was fine with me because honestly my dad didn’t hunt very often so I figured Ruff’s services wouldn’t be needed very much. But, he still had to be trained. And really, even though we were training the dog I think my dad was really using it as a ruse to wear me out so that I would go to bed early and sleep late that summer. You see, in order to teach Ruff to “fetch the birdie” my dad would throw the fabric “bird”, Ruff would point as was his inherent nature to do, but then we had to teach him to go get the bird GENTLY and retrieve it for my dad. Yeah….so I had to run all over the yard with the dog in tow, and teach him to gingerly pick up the bird and take it back. It took days and days. Now, it makes sense to me now that it took so long. Dog training doesn’t happen overnight, but oh my goodness, I was convinced my dad was punishing me for something that I didn’t know he knew about or for something that he thought I may do in the future. But, I did get in top physical condition that summer and I had a fantastic tan.

As an adult I’ve had my share of pets. I outgrew my nonsensical fear of cats and I’ve had quite a few now. Some I paid for and others were strays that my kids brought home. I’ve had Plato, Socrates, Cloud, Barbie, Hank and Oreo. The kids have had hamsters and fish and the occasional turtle. And I’ve had 2 Labrador Retrievers; Storm, a black Lab and Brie, my chocolate. Now we have Stella, our shelter pup. She’s a Shiba Inu/Collie mix and she just turned 4.

I truly love all of the animals I’ve had but I can’t help but dream of owning some exotic pets.  Like a monkey/gorilla/chimp…..gorillas are one of my most favorite animals. They are so smart and human like and they’re just beautiful. Yes, I know they are dangerous and that owning one is not a good idea….I’m just saying….they’re really really cool. And, I’ve always wanted to adopt a manatee. They have those programs where you send money and they send you a photo of a manatee that you are supposedly supporting. I’ve never been able to convince my hubby that it’s a good plan….but manatees are cute. They look like squishy crescent rolls that swim. And recently I saw photos of these baby hippos. Have you seen these guys? Oh my gosh they are adorable. I even think the pot-bellied pigs are kinda cool.

I only have one creature that absolutely can NOT under any circumstances live in my home AND I like to pretend they aren’t even anywhere near my home…..snakes. Can’t do it. I am terrified. The scenario with the kitten when I was 5?……magnify that times a million, add in a panic attack followed by a fatal heart attack and that’s what you would get if you paired me with a snake. TERRIFIED. I don’t even do well looking at pictures of snakes in books. I realize that my fear may be a wee bit irrational – but I don’t care. It is what it is. At least I can admit that there’s something I’m really afraid of.

So tell me….on this National Pet Owners Day, what have been some of your favorite pets? And, what are some odd ones that you would own if you could?

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