Feb. 22 was National Love Your Pet Day, but I’m pretty sure none of us pet-lovers need a “day” for our special fur-babies.
When I was growing up, we always had pets, mainly dogs and cats. Occasionally, I had a goldfish. Usually, it was one I had won at the school fair and brought home in a little (sealed) plastic baggie.
The fish never lived more than a day or two until we realized the chlorine in our water was killing them. After that, I had better luck with them.
I always wanted a critter, such as a hamster or a guinea pig, but my dad said we could not have “rodents.”
My favorite childhood pet was my cat Spartacus. I had been begging for a kitten for years and on a cold winter night, when I was 5, I got my wish.
Having an unusual name myself, I was always looking for the perfect names for whatever I was naming. As I sat and held that tiny kitten, my oldest brother, Mike, who was watching the movie “Spartacus,” suggested the name. I loved it.
Spartacus, like his namesake, proved a mighty warrior. He was a huge cat, and his favorite pastime — besides chasing me around the house — was hunting squirrels, rabbits, mice, lizards and snakes.
He slept on my bed every night. But during the day, he stalked prey in the woods. I buried every one of those animals, even the lizards, in a little pet cemetery. I even made little crosses.
I was such an odd child, it’s a wonder my mother didn’t have me tested.
We had our old dog Jerry from the time I was about 2. She was a neighborhood stray. When our family moved, she jumped in our car and that was that.
Jerry was the sweetest and most loyal dog ever. Strays and rescues just seem to know you saved them.
When I met Paul and we began learning about each other, I was shocked to find out he had never owned a dog. He had been around his grandparent’s dogs, but never had one of his own.
So the Christmas we were engaged, to be married that spring, I surprised him with a black Labrador puppy — Wolfgang Amadeus.
It was the first time I saw tears in his eyes when he held that adorable puppy. Wolfie was the most hyperactive dog I have ever seen, even after we had him fixed.
Wolfie wanted to spend every minute of the day outdoors, running and jumping. He never tired. Sadly, his life was cut short by a heart attack at age 5.
After that, even though we had two young children and were expecting a third, we welcomed a sweet chocolate lab puppy named Hershey into our family.
Surely, there has never been a dog so patient and kind to children than sweet Hershey was.
Some of you may remember when my beloved poodle Chaucer passed away suddenly four years ago. I was devastated. I wrote about it in a column and heard from so many of you kindred pet lovers. Some of you shared stories of your precious pets and I cried reading all of them.
Many well-wishers also suggested I get another small dog. And I did. The 8-week old, 4-pound Morkie (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier), a rescue from Tennessee, was the cutest thing I had ever seen. We eagerly adopted her.
That was in 2011, and I am happy to report Indigo, or Indie is still the same, sweet, spoiled love of my life. We also still have our Labrador Jasmine.
Jazz just turned 10. It seems like only yesterday when I made Paul go with me to Calhoun to look at some yellow lab puppies, the whole time with him complaining that we didn’t need another big dog (we had only recently lost Hershey).
Of course, Paul took one look at that sweet puppy and that was all it took. Oh, to see the look on our children’s faces when they saw that puppy and learned it was theirs. Priceless.
Last August, we inherited our son’s dog when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Sierra is a black lab mix, rescued from the mountains of North Carolina. At 4, she is as active as she was as a puppy.
At first, I could tell she was depressed about her dad being gone, and Jazz was not very happy about the addition. Thank goodness everybody adapted.
After six months, Sierra fits right into our menagerie. I even think Jazz seems younger and more active than she used to. Indie, who acts like the princess of the house, thinks of Jazz and Sierra as “her dogs.”
One of her favorite things to do in the morning is to go feed them. We ask, “Do you want to go feed Jazz and Sierra?” And Indie excitedly barks and runs to where we keep their food and waits while we fill their bowls.
It is amazing how pets fill our lives with such joy. We are lucky to live in a community that does so much to support pet adoptions. Why not consider adopting a pet today? I guarantee you will not be sorry.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.