Wednesday, April 27, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Pets

Alamo and Dobby 2011
My sisters and I had 3 pets when we were growing up.  We had a West-Highland White Terrier named Scottie; a male Cockatiel named Merlin (yes, after the wizard); and a black dwarf rabbit name Harry Houdini.  Each one of us had a pet to take care of.  My oldest sister cared for the bird.  My younger sister for the dog, and I cared for the rabbit.

A very hairy Scottie #2
Scottie – She was a sweet, wonderful little dog.  She grew up with us. She was actually Scottie #2.  The first Scottie died as a puppy before I was born.  I’m told by my father that she got sick and died, they replaced her with another Westie pup (Scottie #2) and she started showing the same symptoms (don’t remember what they were).  Rushed the doggie to the vet where they were given expensive pills for the dog.  The dog wasn’t getting better and they took her somewhere else where the vet told my parents that the pills were just calcium tablets and to just give the dog milk.  I don’t know what exactly was wrong that would cause this to be the cure, but I can speculate that perhaps the puppy mill that they got the dog from was taking them away from their mom too early.  Just a guess though.

Not sure if it's Scottie #1 or #2 with my older sister
So, Scottie #2 was a great dog to have.  She loved to give kisses and sit on laps.  She would walk around the house every night and check on the kids before she went to bed.  I knew this, not only because my father told us, but when I couldn’t sleep I could hear her walking through the house and come into my room.  Her dog tags would knock together and make a light tinkling sound.  She’d pause and then leave to check the next room.  Not a very intimidating guard dog, but you could tell that she loved us and protected us. 
Merlin the snugglie cockatiel

Merlin – I so want another cockatiel!  Do you know how you can buy a hand-fed cockatiel and they cuddle with you?  We didn’t buy him hand-fed, but he ended up acting in much the same way.  His cage hung from a chain on the ceiling and we’d open his door, he’d walk down to the end of it and just sing.  If you didn’t pay attention he’d squawk louder and louder until you’d pay attention to him.  He wanted you to scratch his little head.  If you ignored him for too long…maybe there was something interesting on TV, well, he’d fly over to the chair that you were on, land on the arm of the chair and start climbing up your arm until he got to your shoulder.  Those toenails!  He’d nibble your ear and play with your hair.  I never in my life thought a bird could be so cuddly.  Beautiful, yes, but not so affectionate!  A funny memory about Merlin was when we were sitting at the dining room table having dinner and he wanted our attention.  The living room where his cage was flowed right into the dining room and Merlin’s cage was open.  He flew over to the table and landed in the mashed potatoes.  Little bird footprints in the potatoes.  He was put back on his cage door and seemed very offended over the whole thing.  I think he saw the roast chicken…

Harry ready to jump out
Harry Houdini – My personal responsibility…we got him for Easter one year.  We got the cage at the pet shop that the clerk recommended and found out very quickly that this baby rabbit could squeeze between the bars and get out (thus the name Harry Houdini).  So some mesh wire was placed around his cage to keep him in…it helped with the cedar chips too!  We put a little litter box in there for him and he actually was litter trained after a while.  Too bad there wasn’t scoopable litter invented yet!  We’d open Harry’s cage lid and just leave it open sometimes.  He’d jump out whenever he wanted to explore.  I remember so many times that I’d be lying on the couch watching TV and the rabbit would hop over, jump up and then squeeze under my neck.  He’d just flatten himself out and fall asleep there.  It was funny to see him so stretched out when I’d sit up and he’d still be sleeping.  A cutie pie.   

Harry and me (What a perm!)
As with most rabbits, Harry ended up getting an infection.  He had pockets of puss that would develop under his skin and the vet had us drain them and give him antibiotics, but you can only delay the inevitable for so long and eventually it was his time to go.  I remember I was at home alone when his time came.  I picked him up and held him in my arms on his back like a baby…he liked that…he used to hold my finger between his paws and lick it when he was healthy…and he died.  I wouldn’t put him down.  My father was at the mall.  I had him paged and asked him to come home.  I was still holding Harry when he came home and took him from my arms and buried him in the backyard.

There were other animals that came into our house but didn’t stay forever.  My mom had a bird named Chickatico.  He was an albino cockatoo, I believe.  She thought that if she bought him a peg that he would just sit there…that didn’t work…he was a free bird and would climb up the radiator pipes up onto the ledge trim that separated our living room and dining room (and we had high ceilings!).  He couldn’t figure out how to get down.  We’d try to bring a broom handle or something for him to step on so he could get down, but he would have none of it and would just jump and SPLAT!  Hit the floor.  His wings were clipped so he wasn’t a flier.  We did think that he was just about the dumbest bird we’d ever seen, but maybe he just landed on his head one too many times.   

Chickatico the attack bird

We tried to teach him to let us scratch his head, and he would permit it from time to time.  We’d only do it through the bars and the trick was to get your finger away before he was done with the head-scratching because if you didn’t get your finger out in time there was blood drawn.  He wasn’t as delicate as Merlin.  Mom took  him with her when she left and eventually we stayed with my younger sister for awhile.  Eventually he was given to a home that was better able to take care of him.  I don’t think mom realized when she got him exactly how long cockatoos lived!  He’s probably still alive out there with his new family that, if I remember correctly, had several large birds.

We had a parakeet that I barely remember named Puffy.  My dad claims that every morning my mom would remove the cover to his cage and she would call him "Buzzard-beak".  Then one morning she removed the covered and he called her "buzzard-beak".  Don't know if I believe that.  I don't think parakeets are big talkers!


When I was a teenager and in college and lived with my mom, she had the sweetest little Yorkie named Sampson.  He was another snuggler and loved being held.  If you picked him up and held him on your lap he would stand up and put his little paws on your chest and then put his head on you sideways...doggie hugs! 

A sleeping Bandito
As an adult my hubby and I had some fish, but moving around with the military was not conducive to caring/transporting fish.  They were peaceful and we enjoyed them and hope to have more again someday.  We had a cat, Bandito, that was too friendly and trusting for his own good.  He fell asleep under the wheel of a car.  No more to be said about that.  We know have a very fat beagle, Alamo,  that’s 7 years old (and we very nearly lost last year due to pancreatic issues) and a new cat, Dobby (yes, named after the elf in Harry Potter), that’s about 3 years old.  My two boys are following in my footsteps taking care of their animals that love them very much.  The cycle continues…