Ever since I was a kid, I have been a sucker for pets. Maybe because we lived in a rental property and couldn’t have animals, made me more acute to their absence. I remember bringing home a baby squirrel once. That lasted a good five minutes. I also used to go across the street and play with the neighbors dog. I remember once when she got sick, they came over and asked my mom if I could come over and try to get her to eat. She did.
When I married, I was fortunate to marry a woman who is as dippy about dogs and cats as I am, although she leans toward cats more then I do. Therefore, over the years, there has been a constant progression of furry kids sharing our home. Mostly, they are rescues or selected (us by them) from the local pound. We have however had two full blooded cocker spaniels that we bought from breeders. Today we have the two rescue dogs shown here. Scooter is our third cocker and Sophie, well, she is a terrier mix. Like most of our dogs, she is made up from spare parts.
Those of you out there who share our love of animals can appreciate the joy that they bring to a household. Each with their own personalities, tricks, and quirks. We had one dog that loved beer. When we lived in Houston we had a tree in the back yard that had a crook about five feet up and when I was mowing the yard, I would set a cold beer up there. Riley would just sit and stare at the can. He couldn’t reach it, but he knew it was there. When my brother in law stayed with us for a while, Riley would wait for him to come home from work, and they would lay on the den floor, watching TV, and share a beer. The good times.
But, as with all things loved, there is a time when you have to say goodbye. Sometimes they leave by themselves and sometimes you have to set them free. Each time your heart is torn from your chest and your world feels very empty. Favorite toys and blankets are collected up and discarded if you are strong enough to do it. They have so infiltrated your space that for quite a while you still expect to see them in their former haunts. Habits established over their lifetime die hard.
Somewhere during our journey, my wife found a catalog that sold Christmas ornaments that you can have monogrammed with a single name in glitter. She had the great idea of buying one for each of our pets, past and present, to remember them. So we did. Thirteen of them. Now, each year at Christmas time, when we unpack and set up the tree, among all the other ornaments we have collected through the years, our favorites are the colorful globes commemorating each one of “the kids”. As we hang them, all the memories and all the joy returns and the good times are relived. Stories oft told are retold again as we recall our time spent together. Somehow, at that time of year, when everyone wants to surround themselves with family, in a small way, we have been able to do just that. Once again, we are all together gathered around our family tree.