Thursday, November 6, 2008

Man's Best Friends

Some of the most enduring characters in fiction have been animals. One of the first books I remember reading as a young teenager was White Fang by Jack London. Animals, for whatever reason, engage our hearts.

When I was very young--maybe three or four--my father brought home a puppy. We named him Rover. I have no idea what kind of dog he was. He looked like a small version of Lassie. We had Rover until I was eleven. Rover had wandering paws. Intermittently, restlessness took over and he would wander off. Well of course after a while my brothers and I would hanker for a new dog. And dogs were plentiful back then so we inevitably ended up with a new pet. Within a few weeks, Rover would reappear. And within a few weeks after that, something would happen to the new dog! Perhaps it would run in front of a car. Or whatever. But Rover always ended up as the only dog. Looking back on it, that was just scary.

When my kids were in their early teens, we went through the hamster stage. One of the kids had a tiny gray teddy bear lady hamster named Whiskers. One day Whiskers was in an adventurous mood and jumped out of my daughters hands, landing on the floor with a thump. It was clear that her back was injured. In the weird way that these things happen, she became my hamster. Whiskers lived nearly four years. Yep. She was a very old lady hamster when she died. I reckon she lived so long because no one touched her except me. I could hold her in my hand while I watched TV. When she got tired, she curled up in my palm and took a nap.

When we lived in Texas, we had a parade of cats and dogs. One day my son came home with a tiny gray tiger kitten with no tail. He claimed that he found the kitten playing in the intersection on the next block over and fearing that a car would hit it, he picked it up and moved into someone's yard. Then when he walked home, the kitten followed him. Heh. We had Patti for seventeen years. She was a gentle loving cat. When we were transferred from Texas to New York, she also became an extraordinarily well traveled cat. The house hunk's company boarded her until we had a place to live. Then she was flown to New York. The house hunk collected her from the Newark Airport, and in succession, she rode on a train, a bus, and finally a car (two hours total!) to get to our new home. Most nights she slept on my pillow and kept my ears warm in the winter.

Animals of whatever species become part of our lives. On this sixth day of November let us be thankful for all the wondrous variety of animals God gave us... especially the ones who have served as members of our families past, present, and yes, in the future.



  1. Sandra Cox's YA books are a perfect example of excellent animal characters in fiction too.

  2. Hey I have an iguana who watches over my shoulder when I type. Not an animal person at all...

  3. Mmm. I have a little 2 lb yorkie who keeps me company every day and sleeps with me every night. She's just the sweetest thing. I have a cat as well, but she isn't affectionate the way Gypsy is. I think she believes her job is just to look beautiful.

  4. We have a male husky named Loki. Let me tell you, no dog was ever more appropriately named than him. He's mischief incarnate and all about Loki, Loki, Loki. We also have two cats, and we aren't allowed to even dare touching cats when he's around. He chases them down to punish them the minute we have our backs turn. It's funny how they try to make sure they're the only ones in your heart and life. I have to tell Loki all the time that he's the best, otherwise we'd have no cats at all, and well, we sort of like them too.

  5. I have three toy poodles (4,6,12 lbs) that run my home but allow me to live in it to serve them. Thank God for them - they love me even when I feel unlovable and they don't know what a bad day is. It's amazing what we can learn from their unconditional way of life.