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History of Pets in our Family

by Hawke published Jan 11, 2021 07:06 AM, last modified Jan 11, 2021 07:06 AM
A brief history of pets in my family

I grew up with many pets as a little kid. 

Living in California, on a few acres of land, we had a great locations for animals.

We had up to 13 cats, and a dog at any given time. Unfortunately the dogs would get in the way of my dad, and he would kill them. Either through beating, shooting, or other method. The only dog smart enough to stay out of his way was Peubelle, a black standard poodle. We gave him up for adoption by the neighbors when my mom fled with us to Utah, and filed for divorce. I don't know what happened to all the cats. I inadvertently drowned one (the one I was closest to) when I was only 4 or 5 years old, trying to teach "Potato Chip" to swim in our pool (repeatedly). :-(

As we settled in, we had a few new pets in Utah.

As an older child and teenager, raised several from kittenhood/puppyhood, as well as training in raising and training horses. That was the 1970s and 1980s. 

We had Chanson, a huge cat, who lived to be 13 years old before passing from old age.

Peubelle II, another black standard poodle, gifted by my. Who a few years later disappeared from his kennel. We think was dog-napped by the local neighborhood gang and met a terrible end in their dog fights.

Rowdy II, a brown-and-white 2-tone beagle. Who also a few years later disappeared, possibly the same terrible fate.

And finally Cleopatra, around the mid-1980s, a brown-and-white 2-tone basset hound. Whom I left behind with my mom when I moved out, since I didn't have anywhere I could take her, unfortunately. She moved with my mom to Tucson, and Cleo passed away from Cancer at about 9 years old. She was the last pet I would personally own until 2021.

After I moved out of my mother's home when I was 18, I did not have a pet of my own until 2021. In fact I didn't have any pets for many years until my first marriage and my children. I know from my own experiences and research how critical pet ownership is for developing empathy and other skills for children, so I wanted my three sons to get the opportunities. Unfortunately they have a number of allergies which presented challenges.

They had some pet experiences (not their own) when we lived on the farm in Malad City, Idaho with their grandparents for a couple years, and that was great for them. But allergies and asthma were an issue.

Our oldest son did get a betta fish he named "Wishy". That came along on our trip moving to Spokane. Wishy died about a year later when a window by the fish bowl was left open. We buried Wishy in the back yard with a ceremony.

In later years, when living in Spokane, when I was out of town for an extended period when my mother died (and was revived), some stray cats were adopted by my middle son and his mother, despite him having the worst of the allergies and asthma. By the time I came home he was not doing well. We all loved the cats, but after he such a severe asthma attack he turned purple, I was able to finally talk the family into letting the cats go. We found a woman who specialized in fostering cats and finding them the ideal homes, which went well.

After the divorce, I had sole custody with the boys, and to help with the painful transition, I purchased pets for all three of them to deliver that Christmas.

The youngest did not have allergies, but was not very good at staying on top of chores. He received a guinea pig, he named her Daisy.

The eldest received a green cheek conure, he names Flap Jackie.

The middle son, with the worst allergies, initially started with a very young bearded dragon. But I had bought it at Petsmart, and it wasn't eating, and not growing well.  I was dropper feeding it on and off for months. Finally after about 4 months of trying to save it, it died.

So we bought a juvenile bearded dragon instead (I stupidly paid waaaaay too much for it, feeling guilty). He named her Suse (Su-zah). She was a "transluscent" variant.

Then she disappeared during the spring when he was outside with her. He spent days in distress digging up the entire front yard trying to find her before he gave up.

Quickly I scrambled, and within almost the same time period ended up with 2 pets form him: a 4-year old full-grown bearded, which he named "Albrecth", which was a rescue from the mobile vetenarian "Claws & Paws" that had tried to save the very first beardie. The other, from a fellow classmate at EWU, who couldn't be home enough and was terrorizing her cat: a sun conure parrot named "Charlie".

These were all great pets, and the boys snuggled them and were very close with them.

Early summer I was cleaning out some large toy buckets from the front porch when I came across a blackened corpse of Suse in the bottom of the buck. I showed Brennan, then lifter her body out of the bucket. She must have somehow climbed in and fell in all those months ago during the late winter / early spring. I held her. We were both choked up.

Then I almost dropped her when she twitched! Holy crap! She was still alive. We called the vet, and they coached us through slowly warming her up. A few hours later her color started coming back under the warming light. She then had a huge poo, and was so skinny after, that she was basically just a spine. We really didn't think she would survive. Slowly we nursed her to health, and was a properly plumped up beardie within a few weeks, though a little growth stunted from being in hibernation during key juvenile growth months.

So now my middle son had three pets!

At one point, (maybe a year or so later?) the middle son unfortunately (against my advice, but I didn't forbid him), put the two beardies (male and female) together in the terrarium, hoping they would mate. They did. She laid eggs, but without an incubator, she then began to eat them. A few weeks later we found her dead on her basking rock. Probably the combination of the stressors in her early development combined with her probably still too small and young for the birthing process, was too much for her body. We buried her in the backyard with a ceremony.

About 2 years after receoving her, Daisy the guinea pig, was not doing all that well. My yongest son did not like perform the chores necessary for her upkeep, trimming her hair, toenails, cleaning out the cage, etc. It was a constant struggle getting him to do so. He would escalate to getting grounded and eventually give in, but it was an going challenge. Eventually she developed an abscess and died. She was put in the freezer to wait to bury because the ground was too frozen in the winter.

The years passed.

Then the boys became adults (or at least "rookie adults" as Katy likes to say), and one by one began spending longer and longer periods at other places (encouraged by me, working toward their independence). The eldest went to college out of town. The middle one was flying to Japan and other parts of the world, sometimes months at a time. So the eldest gave up his bird for adoption by his mother. The middle son gave up his bird to a friend, meaning for it to be temporary, but when he came back to the states apparently there were some issues, and they wouldn't let him have the bird back (I don't really know what went on there).  I was left with Albrecht, now around 15 years old. Now the middle son has settled down in New Hampshire, and bought his own beardie there, rather than picking up his old one here (grumble grumble). :-)

All of the boys were mostly moved out as of 2019, and had the marriage ceremony with my second wife, Katy, that summer. 

The boys still came and went for extended visits, but finally in 2020 the last of them moved out fully.

Katy began moving in this September 2020.

Finally, as of January 9th, 2021, we have a brand new puppy. A black standard poodle, we have named Mort (Morty is the diminutive).

Now I need to bring myself up to speed on the latest care and training of animals, and research, as has evolved over the decades.

You will see future postings along these lines as I re-learn best practices based on the latest data.





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