Monday, June 6, 2011

Unconditional Friendship is a Lick Away

This post is dedicated to those who have loved and lost a furry friend. They may be four-legged and lick themselves – but they are still some of our truest friends.
My dear stepbrother and sister-in-law, S&S, lost a beloved pet last week. Sweet Zachary had lived a good life and was the sole survivor of a houseful of pets.  A little boy cried for him – old enough to understand what was happening and too young to fully intellectualize it. A wee girl took a more mature outlook and deemed him to be in Heaven.

This just makes my heart ache.  We are a family of animal lovers. We’ve had dogs, cats, a bird, hamsters, turtles, and fish.  We’ve had purebreds and mutts. Give us an animal (except reptiles) and we will love it.
Puck was the first long-time family pet I truly remember. He was a Welsh Corgi and probably my first Big Susan. He was loyal and quite handsome – despite having only one ear that stayed up.  He had brown soulful eyes that wrapped Nannie around his paw. She felt his nose in the morning and if it was warm, she made him a soft scrambled egg and kept ice in his water bowl.  D and I fought about who would walk him – good grief that dog stopped to pee on every blade of grass.  Puck lived 16 years and I wept when I came home and saw his water bowl gone.  I irrationally blamed my stepfather but know he was just the brave soul that had the heart to do what truly needed to be done.  Puck took all my teenage angst and heartache with him – bless his furry little heart.

Licorice was my cat. She was evil but I saw her flaws as quirks. My mother and stepfather just saw her as a giant pain in the ass. She was once found on the counter - on a chocolate cake. Another time, she sampled a large package of hot Italian sausage then she pushed it onto the floor where it was happily finished by Puck.  Oh, it wasn’t pretty. He had to stay outside for three days after my mother stepped and slid in, uh, the leftovers.  Despite being a troublemaker, she was a dear confidante. She listened to me cry over every little thing, cuddled with me when I didn’t want to be alone and was always so happy to see me.

My siblings are also all animal lovers.  Newman, Phoebe, Jessie and Rubi have all been a part of my sister D’s family.  A motley crew if ever there was one and you couldn’t find a more loyal or lovable bunch.  Yitzee and Grey – precursors to the current Margo and Max – lived with my sister S.  Her preference is for the feline kind and she’s had as sweet, needy and neurotic a bunch as possible.  Puck II lived with my brother R. He was another corgi with a big heart who relished the beach life and belly rubs. My siblings would never call their pets anything less than family – and friend.

Beau saw T through the toughest of times. There was no more loyal friend and devoted follower.  He had his own fan club, staying with friends in the big house when T traveled. He was a pampered pooch with his own screened in dog porch with a large comfy chair that he conned from T, a Coach collar and run of the house.  Sometimes, when things fall apart, one person gets the prize. T got Beau and both were the big winners. There was never a more devoted dog – or human.  His loss was heartbreaking.  And though Grace has since joined T in her adventures, there is always a warm spot for dear Beau.

M speaks lovingly of John Doe, a pooch long gone, though her home is currently ruled by Roxy.  Roxy is an escape artist who likes to slink between the vertical blinds – in the middle of the night.  Leaving the house requires quick feet and a squirt bottle but M wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chelsea and Maddy rule my roost. Chelsea is a Maine Coon cat with strong opinions and no problem making them known.  She has curled up on me when I am sad, licked tears away from my face and my daughter’s and kept our feet warm.  She is the first pet my daughter remembers. She likes the shower, the toilet and rolling in dirt.  She brought me a lizard last week.  Maddy, our most recent family member is a poodle-terrier mix with a sad past that she is working to overcome.  When excited, she can scarcely contain herself.  She can jump up to my arms (unlike the cat), eats dirt and poop and has thankfully grown a full coat of fur. Almost.  Her under bite gives her a perpetual smile. Shy around most men, it was big news when sniffed and licked my brother’s toe last weekend. Both greet us at the door each time we come in (even from the mailbox) with wagging tails and joyful noise. They complete our family and make our house a home

There are so many more pets I could name that have a place in my heart.  Hollywood, Lucy, Charlie Brown, Casey, and Kramer.  Gretchen, Daisy, Brandy and Samantha. The list goes on. And of course, Zachary…and his sweet playmates who went before him Tara, Max and Alex.

When I say that friends make our life richer – I mean both human and four-legged friends.  They stand by our side through thick and thin, make us laugh, love us unconditionally and lick our faces.  They may also pee on the floor and eat poop.  I’m just not telling who does what.

Since drafting this, I learned that another friend, S, lost her pooch Stanley. A hell of man-dog with a heart of gold.  I know S will miss him deeply and life just won’t be the same without him around. Woof woof old boy.

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