Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home is Where the Pets Are - Part One

Dear Lassie, Penny 1, Penny 2, Passover Turtle who boiled to death on the radiator, ducklings Spider and Jimmy Webb, Martha, Grover, Daphne, Leonard, Santa Fe, Furry 1, 2, 3 and unnamed progeny, Licorice, Wilson, Gabby (briefly) and Keaton.

At every home I've had and in all of my memories, you are defining and primary players.

First pet I remember is my very own Lassie.

"Lassie."  When I watched the tv show, if it seemed that Lassie was in trouble, I had to leave the room - I was so upset about any possible calamity happening to her.  Did I care quite as much about Timmy or (esp) about Jeff (who was the only real master in my book)?  I don't think so.

I was so excited.  We drove out into the country and I brought her home in a cardboard box on my lap.

She was what my Mom called "a roamer."  Of course, why we didn't have a fenced in yard or keep her leashed is something that I wonder about now.  But, in my memory, back in the 1950's in Pottsville, PA, everyone just opened their back doors and let the dogs out.  We kids, though, loved that beauty.
Jamie, Janey Deacon, me & Lassie

After a few episodes of "losing" her and getting her back, my parents gave her to someone back out in the county.  God bless her, she found her way back.  "Lassie Come Home" indeed.  They told me that she was returned to that "good home" and I so very much hope that she was.

Next up, Penny #1.  One of my father's clients gave us this pup.  I haven't found an actual photograph but the one below is close in my memory.

Again, the laissez faire attitude of the day contributed to Penny's end.  She was hit by a car in front of our house.  Right before Thanksgiving, as I recall.  I was so upset that I was allowed to miss school, be swaddled in my parents' bed - pink flocked headboard - and served the traditional convalescent menu of Cream of Mushroom soup and crackers as I cried and cried.  And I remember my mother's arms and bosom as the only comfort this world had to offer.

I think my mother had a dog or two as a child. I know that she had a big, very realistic-looking stuffed dog named "I Wonder" who meant a lot to her.   What "I wonder" is the etymology of naming a dog "I Wonder" in the 1940's. There's a dog up the street here who look very much like that beloved toy;  I'm always happy to be dragged to the existing "I Wonder" by Wilson and Keaton.  They pull me to my mother.

Next up, Penny 2.  A Toy Manchester Terrier.
 She and Mom had a symbiotic relationship.  When Mom was frustrated or angry, it would've been wise for Penny to stay far from Mom's right foot.  Yet, at other times, Mom and Penny would seem to pose for the cover of Dog Fancy.

Penny hung around for a good while after I left and Mom eventually had her put down at a ripe old age.

The whole pet thing changed once I left home for college.  The next pets were mine and mine alone.

I adopted Martha in the Quad at Syracuse University in the early Spring on my freshman year.  We weren't supposed to have animals in the dorms but Martha made it through the semester and then went home with my roommate since cats were verboten at home in Pottsville.  Martha was a great chaperone, though.  She had excellent timing about jumping - claws extended - onto the face of any guy who was trying to jump my bones on my narrow single bed in the divided double in Boland Hall ("Here Comes the Sun" being played endlessly or at least up to the Kent State riots and the occupation of the Admin building that May).