World Animal Day: An homage to tolerant mothers

World Animal Day – now what does that have to do with writing? Well for me, a lot. 

I have a dog in my current book, who plays a major role. I probably will always stick an animal or two in my stories, just because I love them and like to humanize them (much to the dismay of vets I know – “they are not human!” Doesn’t mean they can’t have personalities, I think to myself.)

But how did I get this way?

One very, very tolerant mother. Let’s revisit my childhood, and all the animals that tromped in and out of our house:

Buffy: black poodle mix, first dog – the baby before my parents actual had babies. Took to us kindly, even though he knew he was being displaced. First pet to bury that I remember.

Hokey: mutt, best-dog-ever!  Formative years dog. Happiest when riding in the car, and would pull any any trick to get in.

Squeaky: first gerbil. Followed by two more.

Rat: red-eyed, white rat, class pet, found a home with us.

Leo: flop-eared black and white bunny, won at the local carnival (it was the 80’s – sorry PETA). He lived a glorious, non-carnie life.

Hermit crabs: at least five brought back from Florida over the years. Lost several in the house. Probably still live there, twenty years later.

Mouse: caught a mouse in the backyard. Thought it’d make a nice pet. Lasted a couple days before it escaped the cage. Lived in our house for several years, I imagine.

Bird: two parakeets.

Cats: Patches and Whiskers, both lived long lives, and had too many kittens to count. Patches was smart, and we all knew it. Whiskers got her name from burning off her whiskers when laying next to a heater. Not quite as smart as Patches.

Cubby: brown poodle mix. The dog that bookended kids in the household for my parents. Helped them through empty-nest syndrome. Kinda grumpy, but loyal to a fault.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the frogs, turtles, and snakes that made their way into and out of our house.

All of it was not only tolerated by my mom, but, kids being kids, she would step in and take care of all of them, when it just wasn’t convenient for us kids to do so. She not only loved animals too, but understood how valuable they can be to a child, and what they can teach. Responsibility, love, forgiveness, loyalty, death, and the gift of an unwavering best friend.

So to all the tolerant moms out there, and my own – I tip my hat to you.

Of course, I couldn’t write a post about animals without putting the other best-dog-ever! in it, Wiley. Here he is with his buddy in Florida (my parent’s dog), checking out the ladies at the beach. (Yes, they have bowties on. There is no shame in our family.)

~Two Wild and Crazy Guys~

All the best!
-K.J.



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