Pets in the Past

I thought long and hard about doing this page. I had pets, as a child, as most of you did. And the majority of those pets were selected and cared for by my parents. Aside from vague memories of having enjoyed their presence, they had no lasting effect on my life. Oh, but then came my babies....

Yuck it up, you human-child people. Just a cat and a dog, right? What was your address again?

Before I hunt down the scoffers, let me tell you a little about my cat and my dog. We'll start with the cat.

My parents, for reasons known only to themselves, decided to move from Springfield, Missouri to a farm, during the summer of 1976. Talk about culture shock. I lost my friends, what I thought at the time was any chance for a social life, and in return I gained... pigs. Okay, only three pigs, but even one pig was way too many for this girl! Pigs, chickens, horses, the whole "Green Acres" thing. Are you sensing my level of enthusiasm for this project?

Made it through the first year of high school in the podunk little town nearest the farm. My junior year, and instead of hanging out with my friends or possibly learning something, I was dodging rednecks and observing in horror as the science teacher dissected a sheep. Which took a week and a half, during which time several other classes had to use his classroom.... I was utterly disgusted.

Late summer before the start of my senior year, I got a frantic phone call from the science teacher's wife. One of their barn cats had had kittens. Her husband intended to drown them, to use for his fall biology class. Don't even say it. The thought of slicing open a frog is hideous enough! He'd agreed to let the kittens go to anyone who wanted them, so she was calling every student she could think of.

I went to see the kittens. Most of them were the typical cutesy little hairballs, squeaking for attention, etc. A little yellow-and-white one had backed into the corner of the box, hissing at any hand that approached. I liked the colors, though, much better than its dark sibs. As I reached for it, Mrs. Franklin said, "No, not that one, she's terrible."

I picked her up. She bit the hell out of me. I thought, what a little bitch! It was a match made in heaven. Being in the early stages of my life-long Egyptian Phase, I named her "Hatshepsut."

Jump ahead some three years. An acquaintance had a long-haired chihuahua. Being an irresponsible person, this individual hadn't troubled to get the dog spayed. She got knocked up by a never-identified dude-dog. The puppies were still two weeks from the estimated delivery date when the vet had to do a c-section--the chihuahua's feet could no longer touch the ground at the same time.

At this point in my narrative, of course, some of you might assume I'm going to go off on a "spay or neuter your pets" tirade. Sorry to disappoint you. That's for another page.

Anyway, back to the puppies. The irresponsible person decided to sell the puppies to a real sleazeball who trained dogs for dogfighting. I couldn't stand it. Little blobs that could fit in my cupped hands, going to a dogfighter? I took the runt. Couldn't get the little geeb to eat, though. A friend, a true friend, offered some of her mother's matzoh ball soup (which, I must admit, she despised, but still, she did offer it). He drank some of the broth. We decided to try mushing up one of the matzoh balls, to give him a little substance in his microscopic belly. It worked. By the next day, he was eating dry puppy food soaked in the soup, and by the next week, he was eating the puppy food by itself. Now for a name. "Broth?" I beg your pardon. "Tiny Blob?" Oh, I think not. "Matzoh Ball?" Peculiar, but it definitely had possibilities....

Hatsh and Matzoh had zillions of adventures, some cool, some scary as hell. They even moved to Nashville, Tennessee with me when I did my graduate work. Whether that counts as "cool," or falls into the "scary as hell" category, I shall leave up to you. Eventually, we all ended up back on my parents' farm. They're still there. I suggest you skip to the photos, if you don't like unhappy endings.

Still here? I figured you might be. Now, every thinking person understands that a living creature has an allotted span among the rest of us, then dies. I understood it. I just ignored it. Then one sunny Saturday afternoon in 1996, my brother's big outside dog died. Very painful, I thought that Saturday night. Then Sunday morning came.

Matzoh had a stroke. (By the way, have you any idea how difficult it is to type, when you cannot see the keyboard?) Try getting a vet at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday, in the country. It took him three hours to die. He was sixteen and a half years old. We buried him down by the pond. I thought I just might die too.

Fast-forward to October. Another Saturday, this time in the morning. Hatsh went into kidney failure. My mother drove me to the vet. We buried Hatsh next to her brother, down by the pond. She was nineteen years old. Something inside me did die.

My husband couldn't cope with my grief (and his own, I think), and declared no more pets. I knew that approach would never work for me, but I also knew I didn't want another cat or dog. I searched in net for pages and listservs about pets, hoping something would spark for me. That's how I found the hoppiest place on the Internet, Petbunny. The good people and terrific lagomorphs of Petbunny may have saved my sanity, I kid you not.

Still haven't managed to convince my husband to let me have a rabbit. But if you want to learn how I circumvented the "no pets" policy, head to Current Pets. Out of courtesy to anyone who might find reptiles squicky, I'll mention that I now have snakes and a chameleon.

By now, I'm sure you're either desperate to see my furbabies, or yawning as you hope this won't turn into one of those thousand-photos-in-the-wallet things. I had two options: give Hatsh and Matzoh their own, extensive pages, or select one representative photo each. Three guesses, and the first two don't count. Scanning just the two photos was incredibly painful for me. I don't believe I'll attempt anything more.

Here's Hatshepsut, aka The Peach Girl (for her love of canned peaches), Peasle (since she would do anything for green peas), Meeeezle (rhymes with Peasle, see?), Cootie Girl (don't really recall; probably something weird, though).... The list goes on. Anyway, this picture is her. "Get the hell away from me, don't even think of touching me, oh, you think I'm kidding?" Like I said, match made in heaven.

And here's Matzoh, my little hunny-bunny. The Mush Man. "Hey, how ya doin'? Are you looking at me yet? Please? Hey, come here, you look warm."

Well, there you have it. Whatever "it" is. Want to share your own pet story with me? I'm up for it. Just email me at

Last updated: 24 August 2003. Copyright 1999-2009.

You're Matzoh's visitor number . I think we're all aware that Hatsh wouldn't have given a damn....