Pets are good. Everyone should have one.
My mother was not a pet person. She would eye a creature, giving it one courtesy pat on the top of its head. After that, she'd quickly find a faucet in which to wash her hands. She was never known to bury her face into the fluffy fur of a puppy. She handled our various pets as one would handle a stinky, wet dishrag; with only two fingers and a wrinkled nose.
Our pet career began with Mitzi. She was a black and white mongrel, given to us by a woman my father knew, because she was a patient at the hospital. She had terminal cancer, and felt she was near the end...she wanted her pet to have a good home. Mitzi couldn't have been more loved...or should I say, 'over-loved'. There were times she was probably quite smothered by Lauren and I...we were fierce pet-huggers.... we loved those critters so much, we'd practically gag them.
I'll never forget the time Mitzi was riding in the car with us, and Father decided to go through the automatic carwash. This terrified our dog. She was medium-sized, but somehow she fit herself UNDERNEATH the front driver's seat; she was that scared. Even at age four or so, I remember thinking that it was not very cool to subject a dog to such excitement. Poor Mitzi probably thought that her world was coming to an end. I whined right along with her.
Not long afterwards; the former owner of Mitzi decided that she was getting better after all (she wasn't), and took Mitzi back. I don't know what became of her after that. Lauren and I were heartbroken; how could that lady give us a dog, and then not give us a dog? It seemed so wrong. But in hindsight; I'm glad Mitzi went back to her...she'd had one too many carwashes with us. Who knew what else awaited her, if she'd stuck around...perhaps the drive in movie, or a trip to the laundromat?
Next was "Chuckie", the orange cat. I loved Chuckie. The neighbors did not. Chuckie was a real ladies' man-cat, I later learned. He died of a bullet wound... from one of the neighbors, I suppose. So much for Chuckie.
A little while later, a flaming-red furred dog (I'm not kidding) made his way into our yard, and into our hearts. We searched for his owner, but to no avail. After two weeks, it was decided that we would keep him. When it came time to name the dog, Lauren and I kept forgetting that he was a 'he'. I was still in my "Princess" stage, where I thought the most wonderful names in the world were "Cinderella", "Snow White", and "Sleeping Beauty". Lauren and I decided that the dog's name would henceforth be...."Beauty".
'Beauty' was the butt of many a neighborhood joke. Imagine my father trying to control his dog, putting both hands up to his mouth and hollering, "BEAUTY! GET BACK HERE!" and still trying desperately to maintain his masculinity.... Or, my mother, calling the dog in her opera-like, extended soprano, "Beau........tyyyyyyyy!" (The neighbor boys really got a kick out of imitating this; and, to their credit, were actually quite good at it). The boys also liked to put a hand to their face and say, in a love-sick tone, "Ohhhhh.....Beautyyyyyyy!"
It all would've been very funny if it wouldn't have been OUR dog. Perhaps we should have had a bit more parental guidance in the choosing of his name, back in the earlier years. "Beau" might have been a far better choice....or, "Red", due to his color.
It almost seemed that Beauty knew he was a bit of an oddball....he exhibited rather strange behaviors...kind of a weird dog, he was.
I figured that dogs die and we could put the whole Beauty thing behind us, rest his soul. But he didn't. Not for a long time. Oh, no...Beauty stayed around for fifteen years....clear throughout my junior high, high school, and some of my college years. Most of the townspeople knew all about Beauty...he was somewhat legendary. Quite the lover-boy, too, as the stories go. Through the years, every now and then, we'd see a flaming orange-red colored younger dog, and we'd...wonder...
Beauty was followed by Cinnamon, a Maltese-Poodle mix that nervously wet herself if you so much as looked at her, and Snookums...a strange combination of dogdome that no one could quite figure out; and to add to the mystery that was Snookums, was the fact that she....smiled. Just like I'd smile at you, lips thinning, teeth showing, eyes squinching....it was downright eerie...They say that the pets often imitate the masters...and admittedly, our family was a unique lot...it was no wonder that our pets throughout the years have been just as unique.
Years later, after I married and had our first child, TJ, I peeked outside in the yard and saw my son swinging what appeared to be a bread bag around his head, like one would a lasso. Stepping outside, I saw that there was something inside of the bread bag....one of four-year-old TJ's stuffed animals, perhaps. But alas, that was no stuffed animal...it was the black kitten we'd just adopted, named 'Lucky'....bet he wasn't feeling so lucky at that precise moment. Of course I put a stop to it, and the feline wobbled away, out of TJ's evil grasp.
I shook my head to myself....we'd gotten the wrong name for our pet, once again....