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Sat, Aug. 24

Middle-aged Musings: For the love of our pets

Robin Layton/The Daily Courier<br>Our pals Noori and Sissy

Robin Layton/The Daily Courier<br>Our pals Noori and Sissy

It occurred to me that I probably should've saved and printed my "first love" column for Valentine's Day. Oh well, I'm rarely that organized.

On the Courier's Facebook page I asked readers to post photos of their Valentines. Quite a few posted their adorable furry friends.

That got me thinking about my pets over the years. They were turtles, hamsters, cats and dogs. Oh, and a few goldfish.

I vaguely remember my turtle and his plastic terrarium. He was so tiny and interesting. Completely unsure what happened to him ... I think I was about 5 or 6. Then came my kitty, Sam. A Siamese grump who only liked his little girl, he let me dress him in doll clothes. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor, putting a green tutu on him. Funny the memories your brain retains.

My hamsters were Cupcake and Brownie. Cupcake was the girl, Brownie her beau. Brownie was an abusive jerk who kept Cupcake banned to one of the Habitrail's sky domes. Eventually, my mom intervened and rehomed Cupcake into her own place.

My love of hamsters didn't end when those two passed away. When my kids were around 6 or 7, we took them to the pet store. Josh picked out two mice, a black one named Speedy and a white one named Snowflake. Allura picked a teddy bear hamster and named him, oddly enough, Cupcake. Of course, I picked two hamsters out for myself. These guys sat on our couch and our laps and hung out with the family, munching lettuce and carrots. They were so cute.

I wasn't overly fond of my son's mice. They creeped me out. That was reinforced when we moved back to Maryland after living in California for a few years. Josh and I were in my Jetta, following the hubby and Allura in the big moving van. With us were the hamsters and the mice in the backseat.

Somewhere in Oklahoma, Josh shouts, "Mom! Speedy isn't in his cage - he escaped!" Flying 75 mph down a highway, tailing a moving van in a car full of rodents, that was the LAST thing I needed to hear. As I pulled over, I screamed in the two-way radio we were using, "We got a rat loose, pull over, pull over!" I saw the big van swing over to the roadside and my husband run back to the car.

When he saw us, he stood outside my door laughing so hard, he couldn't stand up straight. We didn't want to open the doors in case Speedy took off, so I had my feet up on the dashboard while Josh was diving under seats trying to find the miniature monster. He finally captured Sir Speedy and popped him back in the cage. I drove the rest of day with the feeling of tiny feet crawling all over me.

Ironically, I ended up being a caregiver to one of those rodents. The things we do for small, furry creatures ...

A couple years later, Snowflake the white mouse was the last one left of the California furry crew. She was kind of old in mouse years. Her fur started falling out and her skin was red and scaly. The vet gave me a cream and, yes, I would put a washcloth on my palm, sit her on it and rub the cream on her twice a day. She would let out a big sigh, totally relax and sleep deeply every time I did that. My husband still remembers me rubbing down the tiny lady. She passed away in her sleep during one of those times.

It's a dog's life

My husband's true, true love is his 15-year-old Australian Cattle dog Sissy. I'm aware of my place in our home. It's him, her, me and then the cat. When Sissy was a puppy, Chuck would pretend to be hurt every time I touched him, making Sissy come to his rescue. It still works now - he just has to yell louder when I touch him since she's a bit deaf. Sigh.

One of my friends recently summed up love and pets beautifully. His two dogs were crawling all over him, obviously infatuated with their owner. He looked at me and said, "I'll never find a woman who will love me this way, will I?"

Until next time,


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