Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Pets

We've been running a column series (for over two years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about pets. Pets are featured prominently in chick lit novels. Cannie Shapiro's dog from Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner definitely stands out in that category. And most recently, there's the pampered pooch in The Dachshund Wears Prada by Stefanie London. We've read many, many, many books that feature pets (dogs, cats, birds, turtles, etc.) in some way or another!

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Melissa Amster:

It's been a very rough and hectic week due to a death in the family (on my husband's side), so I am sharing and modifying part of an old post I wrote at my personal blog.

I want to briefly share my family's pet “history” from when I was growing up.

When I was a baby, my parents had a West Highland Terrier named Fluffy. She was very sweet and easygoing. She died when I was seven, on Christmas (not that I even celebrate it). My parents then tried to fill the void with other dogs, but their stays with us were short-lived for various reasons. 

After that, we got our first cat, T.J. (the name she came with at the shelter). I didn’t know what to make of her at first, but she was really sweet. She managed to gain a lot of weight and our visitor from England called her “massive.” Another friend called her a “Mama Pillow Kitty.” The following year after we got T.J., we saw a kitten that looked similar to her at the same shelter. We decided to adopt her too and named her Cassie (because of “A Chorus Line.”) She was very cute and sweet, but a nervous wreck. This was brought to light when we got a beagle named Buddy (the summer I turned twelve). Buddy was rather quirky, but we managed to keep him around for a long time. Despite the fact that he drove my mom up the wall, he was my faithful friend. I took him on walks all the time and loved playing with him. He did things to embarrass me in front of my friends, but that’s okay. It made for interesting conversations later. :) 

T.J. hanging out by the front door

Cassie by her favorite hiding spot

Anyway, Cassie would hide under my bed and Buddy knew she didn’t like him. He’d come in my room and howl at the bed. I think he needed a new distraction. In the spring of my freshman year of high school, we got Velvet, a black kitten. She was nice and extremely vocal at times. We had these four pets until I graduated high school. Then we got another cat (just because we were browsing at a shelter and he liked my dad) and named him Kitty (so original…not my idea). My grandpa thought we had too many pets at the time so we pretended that he was really Cassie. We couldn’t trick him though. Kitty was a match for Buddy. This little cat could intimidate him from eating his own food or keep him away from my parents’ room, just by blocking the entrance and hissing at him. In 1997, T.J. died from feline diabetes. The following fall, Cassie met T.J.’s same fate. Velvet died from a brain tumor in 2002 and Kitty died from diabetes at some point later on. (I think it was well after we had moved out east.)

My all-time favorite picture of Buddy
Kitty and Velvet getting some fresh air

In the meantime, I moved into a condo in 2000 and got two cats a week later. I had some allergy problems with Dixie (a tabby), which I ignored until my husband also developed allergic reactions to her. We found her a new home with some friends though. Winnie stuck around the summer of 2009, due to our older son’s allergies (which weren’t tested until spring of that year). We also found her a new home and I found out earlier this year that she passed away about six years ago. I'm glad to know that she had a loving home between ours and the time she passed away. We currently do not have any pets and I do miss having them in my life. Especially after seeing my parents and sister with their dogs.

Winnie (sometime around 2005?)

While it would be fun to get a dog again someday (I’d love another beagle), I don’t know if they’ll bother people (including our children) with allergies. We’ll enjoy everyone else's dogs in the meantime...

Sara Steven:

We always seem to have a zoo at my house. I’m not sure why or how. We’ll start out with the customary dog and cat. Then we’ll add red-clawed crabs and a snake. Mice. Guinea pigs. Random insects my children have found outside that they attempt to keep as pets. And always fish. 

I’m sure a big reason for our large animal roster is due to my own love for animals. I was raised to love and appreciate all pets; furry, scaly, slimy, or otherwise. That viewpoint has extended out to my children and my ever patient husband who continually tells me, “no more pets,” but we seem to end up with them anyway. I think he secretly enjoys them just as much as the rest of us do!

Here is our family pet roster:

Chance: This little boy, or big boy nowadays–he’s twenty pounds–was found abandoned on a farm out in Nebraska. A good friend of mine had asked that I keep an eye on him for her while she was out running errands, and when she showed up carrying a small shoe box with a tiny kitten inside of it, I was a goner. I knew he would be my cat. The eight years since have been a bit of a rollercoaster with Chance. He was diagnosed with FIV in his younger years, which means he has a compromised immune system and we have to be a bit more careful with him. Despite that, he’s been healthy and ornery, nicknamed “el gato diablo” by those who know him best. Thankfully he’s mellowed out a lot in his older years. 

Mojo: We found Mojo at a PetSmart adoption event. A local animal shelter had set up shop indoors, with cages housing dogs of various sizes and shapes, and Mojo was the only one who didn’t appear to be antsy or like he wanted to put on a show for anyone. Sure, we could have adopted the adorable little chihuahua who pranced and danced about on its tiny little paws, but I felt drawn to Mojo and his super calm and chill attitude. We weren’t entirely sure yet, though, so when we left PetSmart I said, “If he’s still around next weekend, we’re going to adopt him.” And sure enough, he was. He was four when we brought him home, and despite some comments from well-meaning friends who warned me that a shelter dog could spell trouble for our family and more importantly, the safety of our children, Mojo proved the naysayers wrong. He’s sweet and kind and has been the perfect addition. 

Peter: Peter Skinkledge is my oldest son’s blue-tongued skink. He was another pet store find, a rarity, all things considered. It’s not often you see blue-tongued skinks at pet stores. Despite his scaly reptilian appearance, he’s a very sweet creature who literally cuddles on my son! I enjoy talking to him and holding him, particularly when he burrows inside of the hood of my sweatshirt. 

Last but not least, are Lemon and Mist: My younger son developed a strong interest in birds, and wanted to adopt two. He even went so far as to create a slideshow presentation so we could see just how serious he was about the birds! They’ve been a lot of fun to have around and a great way for my eleven year-old to learn to take care of something other than himself. The birds enjoy chirping (a lot) and flying around when we open up the doors of the bird cage. Lemon is a lot more laid back, while Mist thinks she’s the one in charge. 

Do you have any pets? If so, tell us about them. If not, do you want a pet?

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

1 comment:

Russ Cover said...

Sara i read and loved your Stories of the Animals you have had. We are Glad Mojo is part of your lives too. We are a Animal Family. Also read your Friend Melissa Stories. Its amazing how Animals become impacted on our lives and affects you.