A long history of pets coast to coast to coast
by, 01-29-12 at 03:01 pm (178 Views)
I have been ruminating this past month since I adopted my first cavy shortly after Christmas 2011. I have had or been around pets all my life my parents had a standard dachshund when I was born, I don't rember much about it till I was a little older probably because I was told the dog would snarl and snap when I was in my floor crawling stage. I was informed by my mother years later part of that was because I would trade my zwieback toast for her milkbones! Sometime around when I was 4 they breed her and she had a littlerI, I still remember wakeing up one morning to six whining puppies in the corner of the kitchen.
We had a pet store in town we used to go in around that time that had a myna bird that would greet everyone who came in the shop with a 'hello'! Of course every time we were nearby I would pester to go see it, even when the shop moved out to the highway I would pester for my parents to stop so I could go see it.
There was also a Buster Brown shoe store I loved going to not only for the free comic book but to marvel at what was in the shop, the owner had eclectic tastes for sure! Just inside the door was an umbrella stand but this one was different, way different than any I had ever seen, it was an actual elephant leg hollowed out! Before any one has a fit remember this was the late 1950's, standing a little further back along one wall was a taxidermied brown or black bear in a menacing standing position! What was he thinking for a kids shoe store? The store eventualy moved to a larger town and when my mom would go there for the department stores I still stopped in to see the elephant umbrella holder and bear, was a sad day when there was a fire and both were destroyed, the store reopened but sadly had lost its charm.
The J.J. Newberry 5 and dime store in town that had a small pet dept in the basement which I always went to first before looking for toys. They had some parakeets, I think hamsters and the obligatory goldfish and half dollar size turtles. One day my mom got a parakeet, unfourtunatly it was short lived I think the heat went out overnight and tweety was on the cage bottom next morning, seem to recall she had another for a short while before it met the same fate. We had already tired of goldfish and small turtles that never survied for long especialy the goldfish from the annual firemans fair that you won by tossing pingpong balls at the tiny bowls, those were already shell shocked from having thousands of pingpong balls bounce off the bowls. I think you got 3 or 5 balls for a dime and if it landed in the bowl you won a goldfish. And thinking back at the small turtles it is a wonder I never heard of anyone getting sick from them, they are no longer sold as they carry samonella! I should mention the 5 & 10 cent toys at the time were usualy made of tin from Japan, well specificaly recycled beer cans before they went to aluminium cans. they aparrently slit them open, flattened them screen printed the inside and stamped out the parts for toys so if it was something that opened up you could see the beer label on the inside! The consumer product safety people would have a field day with the sharp edges!
Somewhere about 1964 while we were on vacation in Virgina I came across a box turtle which ended up takeing a long trip in the trunk of my dads 54 Plymouth coupe. Once home it took up residence in the back yard in a fenced off area between the foundation and the rear porch steps, later that summer I found another while hiking around the nearby county park and it 'followed me home! Little did I know at that age I had actualy found the first ones mate! She was digging and laying eggs which the male promptly dug up again and ate. A trip to the library confirmed their sexes as the female had a taller rounder shell and the male was less crowned. When winter came they disappered to my dismay, but the next spring we noticed on warm days they came up for air and dug back in at night. There was one neighbor kid who kept coming around that summer and insisting I should give him one which I refused, one morning the female was missing. My mom called his mom but tthey denied knowing anything about the turtle, shortly after that I returned the remaining one to the county park.
Next up was a hampster, I think by that time either J.J. Newberry no longer carried pets or we decided they were not the healthy kind. So it was off to the pet shop that had moved out to the highway. I didn't mention it before but this place had the most ominous name for a pet store "Trails End"! So we picked one out, got a postage stamp sized cage with a wheel and clip on seed cup and water bottle. I think the whole transaction came to $4.95 including a box of Hartz Mountain Hamster Food. I am really amazed he lived till the ripe old age of about 4 years on bad diet and torn up strips of newspring for bedding. I would bring him to the breakfast table and let it eat coffee cake till it couldn't stuff any more in its cheek pouches! The boxed food was not much better, dried corn, millet was about it. But at the time that is what the pet store recomended for bedding and feed, suplemented with a bit of carrot and lettuce.
Somewhere during highschool I somehow got a horned toad, was not very exciting and the pet store once again gave bad advise on care and feeding, I think it lasted a couple years before one day it was not just being slow to move it had passed on overnight.
My parents had been dogless for some years when they discovered a person who breed miniture Daschund near we would camp on weekends in the summer. One Sunday we took a drive because they had called us anouncing they had a new litter just weaned. We came home with an adorable female pup. A couple years later it was playing with its favorite toy a pink pacifier squeek toy when it colided with the dining room table leg injuring its spine. Two thousand dollars later it came home with a cart and not any less paralized, mom used to do hydrotherapy in the bathtub daily, didn't do much for the dog but made mom feel better. Ultimately we had to have her put down as she had lost all blader control and had skin ulcers that were causing bleeding and a lot of discomfort.
Sometime shortly after highschool a friends dog had a litter and everytime I went there one puppy would single me out and come running, by the time they were weaned I had decided to adopt. The family kept one of the females and I took home one of the males. Those were crazy dogs a english pointer and german setter mix, running joke was they were like that because the mother had been on a chain that was fastened around a tree and there was a nearby lightning strike. I named mine Arlo after Arlo Guthry, theirs was named piggy because it ate like one. It had also found a very well worn brick had been rounded in a stream someplace and was one of her favorite 'toys' in addition piggy kept bringing stones out of the woods up to about size of a baseball which she would litter the lawn with requiring about an hour cleanup before they could mow the lawn! There was also a giant flat rock several hundred feet out in the woods she would spend hours digging at and whining at I suppose she wanted that one on the lawn too! On the occations I brought Arlo up with me they would run around and get into the tall field grass, you could see them moving around and every few yards one would jump up to see where it was headed. Their other favorite was to go splashing through the swampy muddy pond on the property which more than once earned Arlo a ride home in the trunk with the lip propped open a inch or so and then a hoseing off when I got home. Piggy passed before Arlo but when he did I went out to the woods and buried him under 'piggys' rock. When I moved to California I left him with my parents, the above happened when I returned 7-8 years later.
Continued in part 2