There are no pets that live at my address. We’ve never had one and probably never will. Are we hypocrites because my husband and I both had several adored pets when we were kids but didn’t let our kids have any? Probably, but show me a parent who isn’t.
The last dog that I lived with was my favorite. Admit it, you can pick a favorite pet, right?
Your memories aren’t of the stinky, stainy accidents on new carpet, or their inability to swim or even float although they were chosen specifically because they were small enough to live on a boat with their family. Nope, your memories are a softly lit, blissful montage complete with soundtrack. For me, that pet was Toto (I didn’t name her, OK?) She was a Cairn terrier (of course, she was) and smart as all get out.
Toto came to live with us after years of me greeting my father by asking for a dog.
“Hi, Dad, did you bring me a puppy?”
“Hi Daddy, where’s my dog?”
“Daaad, I neeed a dog...oh, hi.”
When I was 13, my grandfather came for a visit with a smiling, fully-grown dog in his back seat: Toto.
I won’t bore you with the details of my Toto montage, but I will admit that the soundtrack is “Seasons in the Sun.” Toto died six years later during my first year of college. Mom planted a dogwood tree over Toto’s backyard grave insisting that there was no irony involved.
(Sure Mom. Sure.)
When Brian and I married, having a pet never came up in conversation — kids, yes, pets, no. I’m allergic to cats, so they were out but any pet simply didn’t fit into our lives. We fought about a lot of things, but having a dog wasn’t one of them.
By the time the kids were old enough to want a pet, we lived in a brand-new house and…no way, we agreed. As the house and the kids got older, getting a pet seemed more doable to me, but not to my husband. “No livestock,” he said.
Even when one kid brought home a betta fish, and took exceptionally good care of him, it was still a “no” from us.
Until two kids were away at college, one in middle-school all day and it was just me, working from home. I started to covet a pet hedgehog or dog.
Skipper was a scrappy, terrier looking mutt who I first noticed on our town police Facebook page with a caption, “Do you know this dog?”
I knew Skipper’s eyes; knew his smile. I knew how he would feel when I pet him and looking at his picture, I felt like I knew his soul.
I stalked the local rescue shelter page and when he came up for adoption I took a screenshot and sent it to my husband.
A lot of my friends thought I should adopt him, that Brian would fall in love once Skipper was in the house. It had worked for them. But we’ve been married for almost 27 years, I knew my results would vary, and scheming like that isn’t in my DNA, anyway.
See, I’m not the only one who lives in this house. If I was as anti-something as much as Brian is anti-pet, I would want him to respect that.
I also respected Skipper enough to not want him in a house where he wasn’t 100 percent welcomed.
Skipper was adopted within a week — and not by me. I was a little heartbroken, but mostly overjoyed that his new family had found him. After that my puppy love was over, but Skipper will always be my favorite dog who had only lived in my heart.
Susan Vollenweider is a Kansas City based writer and podcaster. To listen to either the women’s history or history-based media recap podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.