Friday, February 28, 2014

More Pets

You have heard about some of the pets we owned. But there have been many others. I will tell you about some of the more unique.

My father was always looking for ways to make a bit of extra money. He decided to raise rabbits to sell their pelts. We made them into pets and that was the end of that venture.

But not to be outdone Daddy tried raising minks. Same thing. When I say pets I do not mean we held them and played with them. We simply named them and became so attached to them that we would not allow them to be killed for pelts.

We always raised chickens. I can honestly say I did not think of them as pets. Those nasty things thought my bare feet were a food source. Luckily it was my brothers' chore to take care of them.

Mom would kill and dress the chickens to sell them sometimes. I was designated to be her assistant. We plucked feathers and cleaned insides. The giblets were my job. I could clean a gizzard in no time at all without breaking the pouch that holds the grit that grinds their food for them. I now buy frozen chicken breasts so that I do not have to mess with those nasty things.

When I was younger we had a pet goat named Nanny. She was a pretty little thing and we loved her so. Then she had a kid that we creatively named Billy. We loved him just as much. These two we could pet and hug.

I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade at school. One day we came home and Nanny and Billy were both gone. Nanny had been given a new home, we were told. We had stew for supper that night. Of course we realized that Billy was main ingredient of the stew.

All of us sat at the table and cried. We would not eat our friend. We were finally excused. I still do not eat anything that I have been introduced to, especially a friend.

One time we were playing in the barn and found these cute little babies. They were pink and had no hair at all. They were about 1 1/2 inches long. We got a small box and put them in it. Then we took it into the house to show Mom.

Mom was not impressed at the baby mice we had found. She told us to take them back because they were too young to be away from their mother.

Of course we decided that we would take care of them in secret. Even as young as we were we knew the mother would probably have nothing to do with them because they would have our smell on them. And of course we were not equipped to care for them and they did not survive.

Daddy liked birds. He had so many parakeets and tried to teach them to talk. They never did.

Once he even bought a canary. It did not talk either. But he did occasionally let it fly loose in the house. Mom was not thrilled with this.

Then came the day that one of us kids held the door open too long while the bird was loose. Out it went. Mom would every once in a while see a flash of bright yellow fly past the window while she was doing dishes.

When we llived in Tennessee my husband bought a pig. His intention was to have some good pork to eat. He was truck driver and gone all week. The children and I were home with the pig all week.

We named her Hortense. She was a great pig. And I was happy to have her because there were poisonous snakes in the area and pigs are known to eat them. Of course she was our pet. There was no way anyone would feed her to us.

When we moved away our neighbor took her in. She loved her as much as we did and promised to keep her as a pet.

While we were living in one of the major cities of the United States we had some unusual pets. We had chickens and ducks. One of our favorites was Cooper.

Cooper was our goat. He was big and full of fire. In the beginning we kept him tethered in the back yard. But he kept butting into things and ruining them. So we put him into a fenced in area next to the house. He was a novelty in the city of course.

When we went to get him, a friend of my husband used his camper. His wife and I rode along to have a day out. Cooper was understandably nervous about being in this contraption with all these strange humans. Apparently when they get nervous, goats get gassy. I was so glad to get out of that camper when we got home!

We put an old cow bell on Cooper to keep track of him. It worked quite well.

The boys had a little league baseball game. When we returned home my husband was taking a nap. He was not much interested in sports. We did not see Cooper. I went in and asked him where the goat was. He rolled slowly off the bed and went to see what kind of ravings I was having.

Cooper was gone. We never found a trace of him. We lived close to the railroad tracks and often there were hobos who came past the house. There were also a lot of different people whose heritage ate goat. They often stopped to see if they could buy him. Or maybe he just got loose. Who knows?

My daughter was given a love bird by a man I was seeing. (Trying to make points with Mom, don't you know) She loved it. As time went on it even started to mimic sounds.

There was a bar on the corner and if the windows were open there were the normal sounds of people coming and going. Soon the bird was giving wolf whistles and saying a few things. I never could figure out why it did not say, "Damn dog!"

That was because Tilly was a puppy. She chewed things; my things. Never anyone else's things. After a trip I took she even chewed through my leather suitcase and chewed one shoe from each of two pair of dress shoes. Every time I came home it seemed like I was saying, "Damn dog." You would think the bird would have picked up on that. Dumb bird.

We had all those cats too. They were eying the bird. Birds hearts are delicate. One day we came home and the bird was in the bottom of the cage. The cage was off center. My belief is that the cats tried to get it and it had a heart attack.

Speaking of cats many of them were calico cats. Calico cats are always female. If you ever come across a male you can make yourself rich. But I digress.

The mother of about 5 kittens abandoned them. We bought bottles and special kitty formula for them but they did not eat well. One day we stopped at Taco Bell to get supper because we all worked that day.

The kittens were swarming around. I suggested that a little of the taco meat be out on something for them. They ate it right up. For a few weeks we had to pick up tacos every day so the kittens would eat.

My daughter loves any and all animals. Since she has had her own family she has owned birds, turtles, hermit crabs, dogs, gerbils, hamsters, and fish. She is still wanting to get a scorpion and a tarantula for a start.

The neighbor across the street from my brother-in-law had a skunk in her garage. How it got in there was a mystery. My husband and brother-in-law captured it to get it out of her garage. When they discovered that it had been "de-skunked" my husband decided to take it home. It was so soft. And the children loved it. It was gentle but I worried just the same about bites. i finally convinced him to find it a new home. By the way, "de-skunked" skunks retain a bit of their musky smell so things smelled for a bit after we had it.

One of the best stories did not involve me at all. My brother-in-law bought a horse. In the city. I have no idea what he intended to do with it. Eventually he tired of it and the expense involved with feeding it. Enter my by then ex-husband.

He took the horse to his house. Again I have no idea what he intended to do with it. But he lived along side of the freeway.

One day on the local news there was my husband's horse wandering around on the freeway. I think animal control officers (dog catchers) finally picked it up.

Again these are just a few of the animals we have had over the years. And me not being an animal lover.


  1. Your family has certainly had its share of memorable pets, Emma. I just finished reading this post and the previous one and was amazed not only at the number of pets, but especially the variety. Growing up, I can recall a couple of dogs and a stray cat. In adult years, I have only had 3 cats at various times.
    You said you didn't like pets, but that doesn't seem true after reading your posts. Do you have any pets now?

    1. There is a wonderfully funny dog that lives in my house right now.