Pets

Hi Max, Lucy, Thatcher – this is how I greet a few of my neighbors. Not the people – their dogs! I must admit, for the most part, I remember the dog’s name and not their human owners. It’s not done on purpose. It’s just the wagging tails and excited jumps give me more warm and fuzzies than a one-word ‘hello’ or nod of the head.

Over the years, I’ve had a number of dogs – big and small. They’ve slept in my bed, shared my food and even took the blame for something I did. Not that they could defend themselves, but they took it on the whiskers and still loved me even after they were banished to the basement, and denied a special treat. I enjoyed the companionship, the unconditional love, and the occasional saving me from eating something I didn’t like. I did, however, and still do, stop at ‘face licks’. It isn’t anything personal against my doggie friends, it was something I learned from Sister Who-Knows-All-Things in first grade at St. Edmonds. In a discussion about hygiene, she warned us to never, never allow an animal to lick your face because you’ll get the ‘rot’. I took her warning seriously and have never gotten the ‘rot’, so I guess she was right.

As with everything in life, certain people, events, and situations are memorable. Of all my pets, including the four dogs, three cats, four hamsters, a rat and two gerbils, Sheba, a Scottish terrier, was the most unique. Small, compact with black curly fur, she came to live with us when my Uncle Anthony retired from the Air Force in Utah, where Sheba was raised. She was lovable, cuddly, and loved airplanes. Forget chasing cars, buses, mailmen, or other dogs. Nothing got her more excited than the sound of a jet engine. It would wake her from a dead sleep faster than the smell of her favorite food. This caused problems. You see, we lived 3 miles from the Philadelphia Airport – under a flight path with arrivals and departures between midnight and 4am. At the first roar of the engine, Sheba would tear through the house, hyperventilating while barking at the ceiling waking both our household and the neighbors on either side of our row home. Dad tried putting her in her doggie cage with a blanket over it however that only muffled her yaps. No amount of doggie training, treats or threats broke this habit. And then one day she just stopped. No more chasing, barking and running into walls in her pursuit of catching a 747. Why? No one could explain it. Perhaps she finally realized she wasn’t ever going to catch one.

Sheba was a loving pet, a trusted companion and I cried the day I brought her to the vet for her final flight home. Pets are miracle workers. They fill our hearts, make us smile, reduce stress, and force us to exercise. Their love comes with no strings and has no boundaries. Maybe this is why I remember their names.

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