October 09, 2005

A Regular Hag-agerie

As some have noticed, this post is later than usual (even for the Hag), and that stems from a writing block I’ve experienced in the past few days. I think I would prefer to have influenza; I swear. With fingers crossed, I’ll try now to get something into writing. {wishing myself luck}

I have often made comments or statements attesting to the fact that I love animals. I’ve never shared with readers, however, any information about the animals that I’ve called my own. I may as well start at the very beginning…

Peanuts was my first dog. My parents got her about the time I was born. I think they figured “in case the kid doesn’t pan out too well, we’ll have the dog.” She was a terrier mix; white with some black around one ear … from this photo it’s hard to tell, but she greatly resembled the RCA dog. I didn’t even know life without Peanuts until we had to put her to sleep at eighteen years old ~ she was my pal and I recall feeling quite detached when it was her time to go.

This dog loved to get out of the yard. All it took was for someone to forget and leave the gate unlatched … and we just knew Peanuts would be wandering the neighborhood. Running after her always proved to be an exercise in complete buffoonery. She’d sit calmly, waiting till you got about three feet from her, then bolt down the street again without even looking back! This could sometimes go on for an hour. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Peanuts, and it was often one of our friends who could finally grab hold and bring her back.

Toward her twilight years, she lost her hearing (for the most part) and part of her sight as well. Back then, you didn’t take a dog to the vet unless they seemed in pain or you had lots of money, which we did not. She never seemed in pain until the very end when she had grown an inoperable tumor in her belly. So, she went along without hearing or seeing very well ~ and my sister Lynn and I would laugh like hell when she’d suddenly walk into a wall or step in her own water bowl. We were kids ~ it was funny, and we’d always help her out in the long run.

During the Peanuts years, we also had a bunny. Frisky was the coolest rabbit! She was dark brown with a neatly placed wide, white stripe just around her neck; a small Dutch breed. We kept her in a large pen that my dad had built. She lived in the basement. It was cool in the summertime because it was underground, and toasty in winter from the warmth of the furnace; a perfect home for her. She got tons of attention from all of us, and I got the biggest kick out of holding half a carrot while she chomped on it, or putting on her leash and walking her around the neighborhood. She loved this activity! So did the neighbors. We would often bring her up into the house and let her run loose, as long as someone (me) was willing to follow her every move and scoop up the little round presents she left all about. She wasn’t supposed to live for more than four or five years, but she made it to eight ~ a very well cared for bunny.

Throughout my childhood years, there were also parakeets, frogs, dozens of turtles (still one of my favorite creatures on earth) that we won at church bazaars, and of course, the occasional lightening bug or grasshopper in a jar. Oh gosh yes, and of course, what house wouldn’t be complete without a goldfish? They never liked us very much though ~ to put it nicely, they didn’t “stay” long.

Sometime after Peanuts died, we got Delilah. She was a gem of a dog; a long-haired, purebred Saint Bernard. We had since moved into a small house and to stand at one end watching her barrel down the hallway at you was almost frightful! Glassware would rattle as she passed through the kitchen and dining room … and if you were clever, you’d brace yourself against a wall because Delilah was a massive creature who enjoyed giving dog-hugs. We were lucky that she didn’t drool as much as most Saint Bernards do.

The saddest thing I remember about Delilah was that she had a brother named Samson, who ended up being a gas station dog. Samson was killed when he laid sleeping beneath a hydraulic lift – unbeknownst to the mechanic on duty who released the thing lowering a car. By the time he realized Samson was there, it was too late – hydraulics are like that. It crushed his back, and he never made it to the animal hospital. Why did I throw this into my story? Because say what you will, but before we ever found out about Samson’s fate, we were all quite confused as to why Delilah lay moaning all afternoon; not eating nor greeting any of us at the door – she seemed to know, and I think that’s pretty amazing.

Years later, when I met my second husband, we decided to adopt one of the pups born to his brother’s pair of miniature beagles. We chose the runt … a female with near perfect markings. I’m not one to follow the stats on whether beagles are supposed to be smart or stupid dogs, but I can assure you that Tamara was quite bright. She had developed epilepsy and had to take dilantin most of her life, but she was just a barrel of fun to have around. After husband and I parted ways, she came to live with me.

I was quite proud of myself when I was able to train her to stand at full attention (beagle attention, that is; tail pointed and front paw lifted slightly – snout reaching forward) whenever this man with a red hat walked by the apartment building. She never liked the guy’s scent for some reason and used to growl and bark long before he would even come into sight. But I taught her “RED HAT, TAM! RED HAT!” and she’d stand and point at full attention… as though she was stalking him for the kill. This was so comical because she was a small shit of a dog and yet she thought she could take on the world.

I also trained her to get all riled up if someone came to the door, unexpectedly. She would always bark to a knock at the door, but I got a kick out of saying, “KILL, Tam, KILL! Show ‘em whatcha got!” and she’d go nuts and attack her chew toy like it was a rabid mouse. Have I ever mentioned that I hate the “pop in?” If you come to my house unannounced, you just never know what’s in store.

Tamara Melissa Taylor was her full name. The Tamara part I pulled out of my ass, but the Melissa was for Melissa Manchester and the Taylor was for James Taylor. Music was huge in my life back then. Her alternate name (why the AKC used to ask for this, I will never know) was Tamara Messina Mitchell. There’s a prize waiting for anyone who can guess who those two names were taken from.

Anyway, Tam got special treatment at all times. She was my child before my child; my parenting practice-run. I even put her on a plane and flew her out to Las Vegas (because while planning my cross country trip, I wasn’t keen on cleaning doggie vomit throughout the entire drive). She liked it out there, except for her first jaunt in the desert when she nosed into a yucca and got nailed by a scorpion. That wasn’t fun. Her nose looked cartoon-ish for three days, but a trip to the vet and a shot in the hiney and she was good to go again.

I hated myself for a long time for putting her to sleep, but she lived to thirteen which wasn’t such an awful life-span for a miniature beagle with epilepsy. She ended up with some sort of colon issue, and stomach cancer. It wasn’t pretty. She had been a truly faithful companion for me and I’ll forever miss her.

While I had Tamara, I acquired a snapping turtle and a box turtle. The snapping turtle was named Basie because I got him a year after Count Basie died, and the box turtle was CT because I got him in Connecticut so you could say it applies to the postal abbreviation or simply, to “Connecticut Turtle.” They each required different care and it was a challenge – sometimes a smelly one at that, oh but I loved my turtles. I no longer have either. I also had a German shepherd named Sheba, but lost custody of her during a divorce. She was definitely a man’s dog.

And then there were cats.

Never in my life did I like cats. I just didn’t know how. To me, they were sneaky ~ devious ~ aloof; just too independent. But, as fate would have it, I moved into a house where the community didn’t allow dogs. My young daughter wanted a pet. She deserved a pet. I wanted her to learn a bit of responsibility, but also, I missed having an animal around.

I tried giving her a goldfish, but she couldn’t hug it. I even tried to convince her that all the birds at the feeders were her pets. That didn’t fly (nudge nudge, wink wink). So down to the Humane Society we went and one black and white cat was saved from certain death.
He wasn’t a little kitten, which was what we wanted … but he was still under a year old and quite a little rascal.

Gatito (left) Jazzman (right)

It took that little bastard only three days to turn me around. He had me at … (no, no … I will NOT say it. I hate that phrase). Let’s just say that the first time he reached out and swiped my ankle turning it into a bloody mass of tattered skin, I was in serious ‘like’.

Two more cats later, and I’m now hopeless for these stealthy creatures. Given the opportunity, I could easily become that cat lady we all hear about on the news. Thank God Ed stabilizes me. He, unlike me, knows right from very, very wrong. Oh he loves the cats ... the two that will go anywhere within three feet of him, that is. The other one got knocked in the head as a kitten and I’m afraid he sees me as his great protector … never allowing anyone else to cuddle him.

Looking back, I’m happy that my parents involved me with animals as young child. I’m not sure what I would have done with all that extra film if I didn’t have my animals. I think I could take the prize for boring animals pictures; dogs sleeping, cats staring, turtles … um, being turtley, and birds perching.

I do love having an animal in the house - and aside from doing the hokey pokey, I have a feeling that’s what it’s all about.


Blogger madcapmum said...

You're a serious animal lover! I have a book you might be interested in, by Rupert Sheldrake, and if I remember right, the title is "Dogs Who Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home." (It's close if it's not right on, and I know I've got the author's name right.) I thought of it because of your story about Samson and Delilah. I'm glad you're back at the keyboard!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Swifty said...

Hey, you can't go wrong talking about animals, especially pets. Personally, I'm very suspicious of anyone who's indifferent to, or dislikes animals. Good on you Carol.

You made me laugh, as usual. This time it was with, "In case the kid doesn't pan out too well, we'll have the dog". Hoot!

Getting back to your animals, that Beagle is the cutest, and is one of my favourite breeds. Many years ago, Janet and I went to get a dog from the local Dogs Home, and we found the saddest, most beautiful Beagle ever. I desperately wanted Janet to have him, but unfortunately, her heart was taken by another. I occasionally wonder how he fared. I hope he found a good home.

As ever, I laugh out loud at your local expressions. I gave a particularly loud guffaw to learn you "pull stuff out of your ass". For most other people, I would consider that to be an "Ewww" moment, but in your case, it's fine. Perfectly acceptable.

One last thing, over here in the UK I believe it's the Hokey Cokey where you "shake it all about". I'm not so sure about the Hokey Pokey.

A cool post, well written, but what else are we to expect!

Cheers dude.

10:32 AM  
Blogger psuche said...

When I was married we had a little Yorkshire Terrier. She was the cutest thing. Her name was Lexi (Alexis) and she used to get all rabit and protective when someone came to the door. It made me laugh what you wrote about Tam. Whenever someone came to the door I used to shout, "KILL, Lexi, Kill!". It was a riot.

She died a year ago from a common heart defect that Yorkshires get. It was very sad.

I really want to get another cat but I travel too much. Maybe when I move to another job I'll have another furry friend around.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I haven't read the book mentioned by Madcapmum but I read a really good one years ago by J Allen Boone...btw, look at the secret hiding is his name - ALLen boONE - His 4 star book, Kinship With all Life, is very worth the read. He writes about his dog Strongheart and their spiritual connection.
When we were kids we had a dog named Tina. We'd play hide + seek with her outside after supper and because no one wanted to be "it" we let her find us when we hid. Worked out good for all of us kids. Thanks for the memory.

11:52 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I'm trying to leave a comment but Eddy is going nuts trying to get my attention. He is being Flippy Kitty and rolling back and forth on the floor. He misses Keem (her real name is Kim, btw, I just like double ee's).

What a great post, Carol. I loved reading about your animals and Don is right, you can never go wrong when writing about pets. Most people love them.

12:30 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I love reading all about you, Carol, and this post is no exception. I also had animals throughout my life, starting at the age of 3, both dogs and cats. They are as much a part of our lives as our human relatives and sometimes more!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

Of course we're all going to be wanting to write posts on our history via animals now. I once wrote a history through all the couches I owned!
We're finally HOME...thanks for staying in touch. It was fun to be on the road and also hear from my blogging friends, which inspired me to keep posting about the trip. WHEW I'm so ready to be home now.
PS Our current dog is Jazzy

3:08 PM  
Blogger Wicked H said...

You put the left paw in, you put the right paw out and you shake it all about...

I may have to call you Haggie Doolittle from now on. Great story.

3:31 PM  
Blogger the Monk said...

Hey, great post...never had pets myself, but now i want one....guess i'll have to make do with my little sister for the time being ;)..

3:39 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

What a pet history! They really are good training for parenting. We also had a psychic dog. When left with my grandparents while we went on vacation he would stay in one window looking out on the day we arrived home. He would only do it on arrival day and would take up his vigil at dawn and not move. We would still be 3 states and hundreds of miles away at that time.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Delightful trip through memories of your pets! Brings back fond memories of my dogs. I also thoroughly enjoyed the background of the names chosen for your pets. You already gave the music hint and I do not want a prize :(Kenny) Loggins and (Jim)Messina >>Loggins & Messina.. & Joni Mitchell. Love Joni: "Both Sides Now"- sigh.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

in case the kid doesn’t pan out too well, we’ll have the dog LOL!
Delilah looked beautiful.
I read a book about horses having 'the sixth sense' when I was a kid. Shaped my thinking.

I'm glad you got to keep the beagle. We had a runt female border collie. She was a beauty names 'Grub', because she always managed to get filthy.

4:58 AM  
Anonymous author by the brook said...

I had animals too... from the time I was born and can remember sights and smells... I have so many stories.. SIGH.. made me nostalgic.. :)

love cats and dogs.. now I have a pair of sparrows who have adopted me.. LOL..


6:50 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

Wow, what an interesting tale, ha ha. It made me think back on the pets that I've had. Your writing is always so good, so personal, I love it!

7:23 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I love walking down your memory lane...it's much like my own.

One of my favorite pet instances was when my dad had a lengthy conversation with our family mutt, Buster. He repeatedly said, "No...you can't take the slipper outside...that's an INSIDE TOY...AN INSIDE TOY!" I guess he thought Buster spoke English, so this method was a bit hilarious to the rest of us.

Your cat, Jazzman DOES look a lot like Kukka Maria!

8:55 AM  
Blogger Justine said...

I forgot to compliment the cats.
They'r georgeous!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

I noticed you had no snakes in the lineup. They're good for removing unwanted guests. I'm still partial to larg dogs, however. You can hug them and use them as a pillow when watching TV.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

Nice pet history. It's amazing what the phrase "I'm a dog person" says about someone. Cats too. I have one of each and (besides the occasional need to detach a "hanger" or dingleberry from Regis' ass-hair) they bring me much satisfaction.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous John said...

My guess is Loggins & Messina AND Joanie Mitchell. GREAT post! Your so much fun to read!

7:51 PM  
Blogger L said...

This is my favorite post EVER on your blog! Love the photos too! It sounds like you had some really great pets :)

9:43 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Wow what great parents you had,allowing all those animals to touch your life. I too had the obligitory goldfish, perhaps ours were related because mine didn't stay too long either! The photos are just wonderful and allow us into your life with animals :)

1:29 AM  
Blogger Carol (Smiles and Laughter) said...

Aww! Your story about your beagle made me miss mine. She died a year ago. My beagle was such a little rascal.

Your post has inspired me to write about my beagle on my blog. Thanks! I was in a serious writer's block phase.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous bekah said...

So where are the turtle pictures?

10:21 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

Ahhh! This is a great post. Made me think about all my past pets. I seriously love that beagle. He is uber cute.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Mike Rubin said...

You inspired me. I may just have to write a post about my pets.

I have had a few pets myself. My turtle was once electrocuted but he pulled through... it made for a good story.

I admire how you have built up such a huge reader base. My blog is fairly new. Any words of visdom for increasing my readership?

12:34 PM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Man, you got three great mammals. How lucky.

Poor little mammal got stuck by a scorpion? I'm glad she survived.

Nice to see you posting again, Your Royal Weariness.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Ash (Le Shark) said...

One time I tried to count up the number of pets I've had. I lost track around 100. This is what happens when you have bunnies, that have bunnies, that have bunnies. You can see how that goes. But, for the first time in seven years, I am now in a living situation where we have a pet in the apartment. And yes, it is, like my first pet ever, a bunny:-) I'm pretty pleased

1:43 PM  
Blogger NWJR said...

Awwww....cute pets!

5:12 PM  
Blogger The Humanity Critic said...

great post, I truly love animals..

6:38 PM  
Blogger utenzi said...

He had you at meow, Carol. How adorable!

I love your line: “in case the kid doesn’t pan out too well, we’ll have the dog.” It reminds me a lot of Calvin & Hobbes. In one strip the husband reminds the wife that he wanted a beagle and she wanted a baby.

8:56 PM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

A regular soft touch you are...I have had a few of the breeds and types that you mention, even the fish...The worst was the Saint Bernard...It was a Tail that shook the dog..So dang affectionate. He would get so excited when I came home..I would see him at the end of the hallway preparing for his run and greet. He would build to take off speed and that all she wrote. I would be flat on my back trying to protect myself from his large tongue. In fact the last time I saw my eldest daughter PATCHES took her for a run..Thank God a neighbor saved the child. I now have a beagle who is happily sitting beside me passing gas. I've got to go outside for some air...Love ya kid! Great Story!!!
PS Hope you are surviving the rain..Remember you asked for it. I just put in the request for you.

9:20 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...


This is wonderful. You've made me think of all the different animals I've known in my life and while the list is not as long, I found remarkable similarities.

I do adore finding new posts from you. It always makes me smile and this one brought a bit of moisture to my eyes (we might call that "Chapped Eyes" at work) while remembering the precious ones. The story of Samson and Delilah was touching.

4:06 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

Hey Carol!

It is lovely to grow up in a home with pets, but sadly we aren't able to have any due to allergies. I miss having cats running mischief around the house. I prefer them to dogs who seem to always want to be in my lap or have my attention; far too needy. The cat is a far more agreeable roommate.

Tamara was adorable, I've never heard of miniature beagles before.

I also completely understand wishing for the flu versus having to write something, even though I'm a writer. Ack, it's awful! But you did a storming good job.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since we couldn't have dogs in my NYC apartment I had a guinea pig named Meatball who lived to be 7. I've been hooked on pigs since!

7:57 AM  
Blogger The Other Half said...

awwww...the wittle beagle is soooo cute!!! i have a beagle!!!

10:26 AM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...


12:01 PM  
Blogger sands of time said...

I love pets.I remember all mine.My grandparents ran the British Equivilant of the humane society and since i lived with them i got to spend all my time caring for them.

12:57 PM  
Blogger dulciana said...

We get so attached to our pets. We have a stray cat at our house that we've been feeding for months. I think it's about time we started calling him OUR cat.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

Digicams are the blessing of infatuated pet owners who can't stop taking photos of their pets. I know, I'm one too.

12:26 PM  
Blogger SquirrleyMojo said...

when faced with writer's block, why do writers turn to animals?

9:30 PM  
Blogger danny boy said...

This is officially, my "AWWWWW" post for the month. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Simply Coll said...

I loved this post. I too could easily be the neighbourhood cat lady (or dog lady). I can not imagine my life with out my animals. Thanks for a most enjoyable read.

And I, for one, would love to see all those pet pictures :-).

10:24 PM  
Blogger Spinning Girl said...

Let’s just say that the first time he reached out and swiped my ankle turning it into a bloody mass of tattered skin, I was in serious ‘like’. Brilliant!

I, too, loved a cat once.

All of these stories were a joy to read, with their bitterweet humor. Thanks for a great read!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Nonsensical_Flounderings said...

We too enjoy having an animal around the house. our newest member being Max a little black rabbit. He has his own little leash and carrier, spoilt brat.


7:57 PM  
Blogger Nonsensical_Flounderings said...

As a kid we always had dogs and along the way hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, tropical fish, birds, a pheasant, piranha fish and a pair of fox cubs.


7:58 PM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

I too love animals and am trying to convince RCS that what we REALLY NEED is a Bischon and another kitty...He's not having any of it. Wish me luck, I'm gonna keep trying! ;)

5:59 AM  
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