I Love my Pets
My heart goes out to a New Jersey mother. She saved up all year long. The goal was a special Christmas surprise for her twins. She went to the shelter in Eatontown, NJ to buy her girls a dog, only to find out the dog had been snatched. Gone. Vanished. Thank God with plenty of media coverage, the Grinch who took the dog returned it. The smiles on the two little girls faces are priceless. That family can count on years of happiness with their pet. You see I am a pet parent to a dog named “Dolche” and a cat named “Beyonce.”
As child I had a German shepherd named “Lassie.” Back then everyone was naming their dog Lassie based on the television series. I do not remember much of Lassie other than a picture of Lassie licking me which made me very happy, and I’m smiling in the photo. My wife can recall having two pets. A collie named “Terry” whom she grew up with. Terry in fact was older then some of my mother in-law’s children. Also, she had a cat named “Kitty Boo.” When they both passed away from old age my mother in-law cried and grieved as though she had lost a child.
My children, Courtney and Dominic Jr. often wanted a pet growing up but my wife always said No. She knew that with my line of work and the children being young that she would be the dog’s provider. With a long commute every day and raising two children she let us settle on two turtles. “Lucy” and “Ricky.” Lucy, believe it or not is still with me, twenty plus years later. Ricky rest his soul died when my daughter Courtney had the assignment to clean out the turtle tank. Having too much ammonia residue in the tank afterwards, Ricky succumbed. As a result of the female turtle surviving, my wife often teased me “who is the better of the sexes.” Noting that “women outlive men.”
Dolche, my dog and Beyonce, my cat appeared in my life approximately eight years ago. Making a visit to my daughter’s Riverdale apartment who happened to be in Graduate School at the time, I noticed when I knocked on the door I heard a bark. My daughter is also a TV Journalist. At that time, she was obtaining her Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from the City University of New York. That bark I heard happened to be the cutest thing and changed my life. A white Maltese puppy who looked at me with dreamy eyes. As I sat and talked with Courtney with the dog on my lap I immediately said
“your mother is going to have a fit. How are you going to take care of a dog when you’re in school and doing an internship?”
At that very moment of the conversation, a light bulb went off in my daughter’s head. I could see her contemplating what she did. Courtney had been doing a story on an animal rescue shelter, and acted on impulse. It was love on first sight when Courtney spotted Dolche. Dolche was on the schedule to be put to sleep. His previous owners returned him to the shelter. They couldn’t handle Dolche’s health which required costly visits to the vet and special food.
When was Courtney going to tell her parents that she had brought home a dog? How as she supposed to take care of him especially since Dolche was a “special needs” pet?
We are the parents of a special needs child. Going to doctors and distributing medications are a challenge. Like some animals Dolche suffered from separation anxiety and allergies which affected his skin. I knew with Courtney’s schedule and lack of funds to treat Dolche he was better off with me. Without telling my wife I brought Dolche home one evening. I promised Courtney I would bring him back in a couple of days. I took Dolche up to the bedroom where I knew Marilyn would be reading or watching the news and placed Dolche in her lap. Through her eyes I could see she was in love and the next thing I knew Dolche would have a place in her heart and in my bed. From that moment he came into our lives it was a trial and error with his health. At one point we had decided that maybe we could not let him suffer, but I would have taken my dog across the country for treatment if necessary. He is part of our family. We gave it one more shot with a vet who was skilled in treating various ailments. The vet brought our Dolche back to life. It was a very costly diet that consisted of only eating meat, and required prescriptions and allergy medication. Dolche is still with us and often time I find myself taking a back seat with the bond he and my wife Marilyn have.
Beyonce came to us two years after Dolche arrived as we closed out Labor Day one year in the back yard. Once darkness approached we left the young folks to stay up and socialize. Recalling the story, the young people said they heard a kitten meow. They followed the kitten and put milk out for her. The next morning she was still there hiding behind a bush and it was raining hard. We put more milk out as we tried to catch her and bring her into the house. She threw up the milk and I found myself going to the pet store buying cat litter, toys and treats. It was Marilyn who asked whether the kitten could have milk because she kept throwing it up. The clerk suggested that she needed formula that had to be mixed and given in a bottle. Each morning Marilyn was in the kitchen mixing formula for the cat and also feeding Dolche. This would be before anyone woke up. My turn with the pets came later in the day. Beyonce would sit on my lap and Dolche would be at my feet as I contemplated the news stories I had to cover for the next day. Oh, by the way Beyonce is not female. He is a male. Not knowing how to determine the kitten’s sex, my sister Malika insisted that it was a girl. My sister said we should name “her” Beyonce. Our cat is blonde and white with an eye color that changes throughout the day. However, when taken to the vet for her initial shots the cat was deemed a male. I decided to leave her name the way it was because he was accustomed to it. His new name that my grandson has given him is “Meow”. The cat answers to both.
Often time my son and I find ourselves competing with the pets for food and companionship. The pets are always the first to be fed. Taken out doors and the litter box emptied and clean. They follow my wife around going from room to room. They give unconditional love. The pets receive unconditional love.
It is the contentment that I see in their faces as they nuzzle up to my chest or lay at my feet that they know they are loved. Hey they are often my best friends when my wife and I have a disagreement. Most times they take her side as Dolche barks at me to let me know that now I am in the dog house. Beyonce simply gives me that look that says” I’d rather hide underneath the couch.
By the way I almost forgot about “Tweety” and “Twink.” Two parakeets that started out as our pets as newlyweds. Marilyn screamed “ a bird and I actually have to stick my hands in there and clean the cage.”
Tweetybird became our beloved pet as much as any dog or cat would. Once Marilyn got used to him we would let him out the cage and he had access to the apartment. It was not always a happy home when you had to go around cleaning up bird poop. Tweety traveled back in forth to NY as we visited my mother in-law who was turning ill. On several occasions through sleet ,snow and rain our trusted tweety bird stood shoulder to shoulder as we braved the storm. One evening getting ready to leave to drive back upstate my mother in law said the weather was too bad and too cold for the bird. We left Tweety with her and he became her pet. He gave her a reason to get up every morning and feel productive as she aged and the cancer took hold of her body. Pets have a way of emotionally drawing their caretakers to them and providing their owners with emotional stability. Tweety lasted several years and when he became sick we all took him to the hospital. The vet said that he was old and outlived his life. Mrs. Stevens cried as I remember vividly her reaching into her purse for a handkerchief to wipe way her tears. She said do not bring her anymore pets. Of course one week later I went and purchased another parakeet. Twink came into all of our lives and while my mother in-law was stand offish for a while with the bird she welcomed him as Tweety was. Another life to take care of put a sparkle in my mother in-law eyes. She indeed had a twinkle in her eyes. When Twink died several years later he was placed in a shoe box, and I buried him in the park across the street so she could look out every day and see his grave.
Not living long enough to meet Dolche and Beyonce I have the funny feeling that both of them would have been raised in my mother in-law’s apartment and not in the Carter’s house.
My mother in-law had a love of life and a special bond with pets. She helped to instill within us what a pet parent is.
As the world continues to turn and we hear about tragedies every waking moment rest assure that when you finish a very long day that a furry friend will be waiting on the other side to welcome you and to let you know that there is love and kindness in the world. As Dolche and Beyonce begin to age I dread the day that they may not be with us. Dolche was hit by a car several years back and my daughter called me as I was having lunch with legendary former NYC Mayor Ed Koch. I had to calm her down on the phone. Fortunately Dolche was more in shock the vet said, than hurt. It left him somewhat traumatized because he refused to walk up the steps and had to be carried for a while. As he ages he can no longer jump up into the bed as he used to as a young pup. He has become more and more attached to my wife and growls and barks more often then he has in the past. I guess he has become a grumpy old man. Beyonce as she ages has a big belly and prefers to lay on the sofa than play with her numerous toys. They are territorial and fight all the time. Yet, they respect each other as loving brothers.
Dolche chases Beyonce around as the cat stands her ground by lifting a paw in a fighter’s stance. Leaving Beyonce with a scratch that often hurts. He runs away from her.
Pets are like humans. They have a shelf life as we all do. Over the years Dolche’s health has been challenging as he sits by my feet. There were nights when I would not let anyone see me cry about his health. There were times when family issues swallowed me up and he was there with those eyes telling me “daddy it is going to be okay.” Time does not stand still for anyone and I am just hoping that I have enough time left with my beloved pets. They have shown me what caring, compassion and unconditional love is all about. When humans have failed me, they have always been there for me and I thank them. Pets have taken over the internet. Ever notice all of the articles or videos about people’s pets. Pets are the new celebrities of our time. They are selfless and loyal to their owners and in return they only ask to be fed, cared for and loved. They are always a brighter moment in the day when a thundercloud gets into your way. I love my pets and they love me.
I am a proud Pet Parent!