Growing up in the 1950’s, our household pets consisted of school fair turtles, goldfish, and, to reward my older bro for being a good patient during a rough tonsillectomy, a bird. I recall one of the turtles crawling out from under the stove, covered in dust after disappearing for several months. I think it was trying to escape the chaos. There was no grieving when any of these animals died. Flushing a dead goldfish down the down was part of the cycle of life.
We kids often begged my parents for a dog, but Dad, raised on an Iowa farm in the early 1900’s, insisted that dogs belonged in the country, an opinion I have come to appreciate. To be honest, I probably would not have enjoyed a pet. My experience with dogs was generally limited to unleashed animals (legal at that time) chasing me on the way home from school or nipping at my ankles. Animals are interesting but always make me a little apprehensive. Even a kitten that my cousin and I shared for a few weeks scared me, ambushing us as we came around the corner of the house.
Mike was also raised sans animals and has had no inclination to have a pet. But YD adored animals and won the lottery when my older bro offered us their cat when they moved cross country. We knew Minette as a loving animal so agreed to take her and make her a house cat. She also won the lottery. Procured by my brother as a mouser, she came into our home a princess, tolerating the dresses YD forced her to wear and being quite happy to live forever indoors. She, of course, loved me and I loved her as well as I could. She truly was a lovely cat. Her death elicited anguish which I did not want to repeat with another animal.
C-boy often begged for a dog as well as a brother. No to both. Mike and I appreciate the responsibility exacted by a pet. I feel that any animal brought into a home deserves the best of care and love, and I wasn’t interested.
But C-boy flew the coop and in 2010 purchased a little pit bull which he named Jigga. I fell in love. It was the easy kind of love that I could send home. Even a year later, when C-boy and future P-DiL decided to move to Chicago leaving Jigga as a foster dog with ED, I could send her home.
But when ED and boys joined us in our shared house, Jigga came as part of the package. The fostering had become permanent adoption. Jigga is adored by Mowgli and tolerated by Blue Boy. Because I was home with Jigga most often initially, she loves me.
How do I really feel? If I have to have a dog, Jigga, is perfect. C-boy did a great job training her the first year. She is sweet, loving, protective, and doesn’t shed too much. She has learned to stay off the couch (okay, there are signs that she takes advantage when we are away). She is always happy to see me and has brought us a lot of laughs over the years. ED covers the expenses, and we share the care.
But I dread the day she dies. I don’t want to feel the grief for an animal as I did for Minette. I don’t want to have to comfort Mowgli as I had to comfort YD. I always thought that animals were just animals. But they aren’t, are they?