In our Canadian Winter, this is a balmy day! Finally I am out on a very short busk on Broadway Avenue, my brutto tempo persona kicking it for just fifteen minutes of thrumming. And on this busk, I was thinking about my buddy, Robin, who suggested that I write about dogs today. Robin is a true dog lover, and the picture on this blog header is Max, her dog that was stolen out of her back yard the day before her birthday last year. With this tribute to Max, I’ve decided to write about pets in general, including, of course, dogs, and specifically, certain pets that have had me on the run over the years (not any of these years being lately).
According to the world of Psychology, people reading other people’s stories, really are reading about themselves. Perhaps this will be true with you!
Being at the top of the food chain, humans have had a variety of pets for a variety of reasons. From dogs and cats; rabbits, hamsters, and white rats; to bowls of fish and birds of prey, we lord over these creatures and make them our pets.
And why is this so?
It could be for reasons of utility. Dogs are used by police for sniffing drugs, by mountaineers for search-and-rescue, by ranchers for herding livestock, by hunters for point and retrieve, by the blind for seeing-eyes. And cats are noted for their prowess of catching and killing mice.
Other reasons we have pets is for the purpose of sociability. There is the unconditional love, no matter how ugly or miserable you may be, that wagging-tail-welcome your dog will give every time you walk through that door.
Sociability also includes that companionship and antidote for loneliness that lots of pets provide for their humans. We know where all the lonely people are -- they are mollycoddling their pets.
Walk any path or public lane and you’ll notice that campy cool look some pet owners insist upon. There is nothing like dressing to the nines for walking with the canines! This, too, is a sociability of sorts.
And some pets are simply there as ornaments. Really, is there any other purpose for a goldfish!
Aesthetics, too, come into play when it comes to pet ownership. Nothing demonstrates more the grandee than a Cheshire cat sprawled and stretching along a couch, confirming my belief that cats do not have owners—cats have staff!
Then there are the benefic medical reasons for having pets, which include: mood enhancement, blood pressure control, forced source of exercise and therefore longer life, as well as safety and personal protection.
My personal history of having pets begins with Lady. When I was six years old Grandma and Sid were visiting my Great Uncle, Byron. It was on the farm and every time we went to see Uncle Byron and Aunt Millie, the evening always ended with Byron on the fiddle and Millie on the piano. In the morning when we left, the very last time I was ever on that farm, Aunt Millie handed me a kitten.
It’s a Persian, she said.
It was a truly a graymalkin, and I named her Lady. Lady lived a long life of chasing birds and catching mice on our farm in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, and later moving with us into a house in the Village of Vanguard, Saskatchewan.
Lady begat Bubba, a short-haired vertical grey and white stripe. Bubba was a hunter. Bubba would leave our home and be gone for days at a time, returning always with a dead bird or a dead mouse, and one time, a dead gopher.
Bubba begat Charky, a fluffy black with patches of white. Charky was the typical lay-around-and-do-absolutely nothing kind of feline. All I remember about Charky is that she slept and stretched.
At age forty or so, my wife and children wanted a cat. We were living in Cottage Country, a house on high in Regina Beach, a resort town situated along the southern shore of Last Mountain Lake. I was at a Reality Therapy workshop in Saskatoon and the presenter’s cat, by chance, had just produced a litter of kittens, and she offered me one of them. A month later, Tikky arrived, and her very first act was to pounce down into our heat register and hide for an hour or so. We all panicked for naught, for Tikky pranced out safe and sound.
Our yard at the beach was a forest, a hunting haven for Tikky. Tikky, like Lady and Bubba, was always hunting birds and mice. Alas, my boys were both allergic to Tikky. Baron sneezed and coughed and Trav’s skin would redden and bumple. We gave Tikky to our Christian neighbor who quickly re-named him in evangelical fashion, Samson.
Residing back to Regina, as the boys grew older they wanted a dog. Here was my deal. If we got a smaller pet, and if they looked after this smaller pet in every regard, we would, indeed, get a dog. We bought Chico at a pet shop. Chico was a budgie and I had read that budgies, being of the parrot family, could mimic all kinds of sounds, from ringing telephones to the voices of humans.
As the weeks rolled by, the boys grew less and less enamored with letting Chico go for his morning fly around the house, enamored less about cleaning Chico’s cage, and enamored less making sure Chico had fresh water and seed. Chico had become my responsibility.
And I took this responsibility seriously. I let him have his exercise fly; I cleaned his cage; I filled his bowls with fresh water and seeds; and … I taught him to talk!
Every morning I would say to Chico, before I left for work, Hello, my name is Chico, who are you? After this routine over a couple months we were stunned one evening to hear, Hello, my name is Chico, who are you, in MY VOICE!
And this line became Chico’s mantra.
A family we were close to, had their budgie die, and they really liked Chico. Sadly, the boys agreed to give him away. Whenever any of those receiving family members see me their greeting is always, Hello, my name is Chico, who are you.
My topic for this blog was confirmed by the only person who marched in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week.
A lady (noticeably chunky) and with a Chihuahua hands me a fin, whilst busking for my fifteen minutes on Broadway. She comments on my FREE COUNSELING sign on display in my guitar case and mentions that she wished she’d met me years ago because of the money she has spent on counseling and workshops and retreats over the years.
I used to weigh over 500 pounds, she said.
Really? I said.
From when I was 23 years up until three years ago. Now I’m 45. Even when I was 12 I used to go home for lunch, eat an extra-large pizza and drink 4 Big Gulps, followed by a plate of Kraft Dinner. Then after school I’d deliver papers and go to a friend’s house and tell her parents I didn’t eat yet that day (we were poor and everyone knew it) and they’d feed me supper. And then I’d go home and eat supper with my family!
It took me over twenty years to get back to less than 200 pounds. Because of my first husband I was emotionally stressed, sexually abused, and physically abused. He even physically abused our sons.
My oldest son was his, my youngest son was not. My husband had an affair and then so did I. But he doesn’t know this.
Now I’m married to his used-to-be best friend. My sons are 21 and 23 and each weigh 140 pounds. I’ve had a Learner’s license all my life and with my husband’s and sons’ support I am going to have my Driver’s license this spring.
I’m writing a book that I hope will be out in five years. The title is going to be Life Challenges and I’m hoping I can help others and that they will be inspired.
And then she scooped up her Chihuahua, leeming (from The Meaning of Liff) and giving him hugs and kisses saying over and over again, Oh Beano Beano Beano, I love you love you love you!
PETS WILL CONTINUALLY ENTER AND EXIT THE LIVES OF HUMANS -- THIS IS THE MAX FACTOR.