When I was a very young child, I owned a dog. His name was Skippy, but I barely remember him.
I remember him as sort of a lanky creature, light-colored and spotted, but I could be wrong. To the best of my knowledge, Skippy never lived in our house but chose instead to hang out at my grandparents’ house, some four blocks away. So fond of Skippy was my grandfather, that he may have actually been Grandpa’s dog. Isn’t it pathetic that I don’t remember more? Especially since I consider myself a “dog person” (as opposed to a “cat person”).
On the other hand, I have many fond memories of Rusty, the family dog during my teenage years. And of Bud, the psychologically and physically fragile Shih Tzu half-breed that landed on our stoop, shivering and whimpering, in the midst of a nasty late-spring Midwest ice storm. My parents claim that the first story I wrote, way back in kindergarten or first grade, was titled “The Go-Away Dog.” (Skippy may have been the inspiration for that forgettable effort).
Through the years I’ve also been the tragically unsuccessful caretaker of fancy mice and goldfish, but dogs have long been the pet of choice in my immediately family. Both of my brothers have owned dogs, but I believe this particular branch of the family tree is dog-free these days.
Frankly, I’d never thought that cats measured up to dogs as family pets. Have you ever tried to teach a cat to roll over? Have you ever tried to teach a cat anything? My own children don’t share this view.
My oldest son, Aaron, and his wife, Eiko, share their Berkeley living space with two cats and my daughter, Meghan, recently added a Siamese cat to her household, which also includes a puppy. That’s my wife, Linda, playing with Meghan’s dog in the photo.
Regardless of the breed of pet, I believe they add richness to just about any family situation. Remember to include relationships to pets as you write your own memoirs or family histories.
Photo of Lucky Lehmer by lwlehmer.