Dogs are not our whole life,
but they make our lives whole.
How many adults and pets do you think could live in a 620-square foot, two-bedroom house? In the case of my family that would be two parents, four siblings, and a multitude of family and pets. But this story is about the pets. The first pet I can truly remember was a cat named Pursy or Percy. I can remember this cat bringing a mouse in from outdoors and placing in one of my sisters’ purses. It was an orange tabby cat and unfortunately met her demise on a summer evening about 1959 when struck by a car crossing the street. There were other cats and kittens that followed, but none of them I can remember their names.
|Pet Cat circa 1966|
We probably also had dogs when I was younger, but the first dog I can remember was a beagle, named Little Joe after Michael Landon’s character on the hit TV show Bonanza. I was about eight but I don’t think we had him very long. My sister and her husband got Little Joe's brother at the same time and named him Hoss--also from Bonanza. Now having beagles, I kind of understand. I also had a collie named Honey (Honey-Bun) and a cocker named Buffy. I don’t remember in which order we had them. The collie was our only outdoor dog and I remember taking her on long walks when I was around 12. I believe my parents then thought it was best if she lived on a farm and then she was gone. At the same time, we had the collie, we apparently had a pug-mixture dog, which I didn't remember at all until I found the following pictures and on the back, it states, "July Honey-bun (Collie) Susie (ugly).
|July Honey-bun and Susie|
|July 1968--Buffy on my dad's back|
|Cousin Terri with Buffy (in chair on top of dog house)|
Buffy the cocker spaniel was cream colored and could escape the fence and follow me around the neighborhood.
There was also a mixed-breed dog that belonged to my nephew, but I can’t remember his name, only that he was black and white.
|Debbie and her dog|
My mom then got herself a white toy poodle after getting rid of Honey, which she named Chrissy. This was to go with an all-white cat we had.
|Parents sleeping with White Cat and Chrissy, white toy poodle|
|Myself with Chrissy on my lap while reading|
She would later obtain a tiny male white poodle too. A short time later, shortly before my 14th birthday in 1968, my parents picked me up from an after-school activity and said we were going for a ride. We drove down to Indianola and went east on Highway 92 to a trailer and I was given a black toy poodle, which I named Bubbles. (Bubbles came about because my dad won a World Series pool and the money, or a portion of the money, went to buy me the dog. The 7th game of the 1968 World Series was on October 10 where the Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 at Busch Memorial Stadium.)
She was my confidant and companion, sleeping with me, going for car rides when I got my license, long walks and helping me through my teen years. I don’t know how I would have made it through my teen years without Bubbles. She was the best listener and loved going for walks or drives to get away from the house. Unfortunately, Bubbles was possessive of me and if I ignored her or went out for the evening, I later would usually find some clothing item chewed up. She did not like guys I dated (or married). When I married in 1973, we couldn’t have pets in our apartment so I left her with my parents. I visited her at least once a week, if not more when I went over to do our laundry. Then one day I arrived to find that mom had given her away, without even talking with me.
|(not my actual dog but this is what she looked like)|
In addition to cats and dogs, we almost always had parakeets. There is a funny story attached to the parakeets and one of the reasons I dubbed my mother a “witch.” I was home sick from school one day and mom was cleaning the living room, where the bird cage sat. She was disgusted with how much mess the bird could make and said to it, “I wish you would die.” Then she moved the cage to the back bedroom (mine), shut the door, and proceeded to clean the living room. I later went into the bedroom to lie down, and there was the bird lying on the floor of his cage dead.