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Front Page » March 16, 2004 » Opinion » Harriet's World
Published 4,723 days ago

Harriet's World

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The other day we were talking about our childhood pets. I had a turtle that was sent to me in the mail. That is right. Back in the days of the dinosaurs, you could send a turtle in the mail. A little tiny turtle. A cousin sent him to me. I don't know if they can still do that now. I would venture to guess that you cannot.

I kept him in a shallow dish with a little rock for him to sit on and played with him. I had a goldfish I won at a church fishing pond. As usual, they didn't last long and we had the usual burial for them.

The turtle was buried in a matchbox and put in the backyard with a marker etc. Of course two days later I dug it up to see if it was a skeleton. It wasn't. Do you remember doing that? It must be something most children do because my son did the same thing with his fish. My fish was flushed down the toilet with full honors and a family funeral.

Then there was a dog called Sandy that I remember as a very young child, growing up with. We were inseparable. Before Sandy I believe there was Buck. We had a series of dogs. I remember one whose name was Fella. A cat called Old Tom. Old Tom lived outside. He wasn't allowed in the house. My mother didn't allow any animals in the house.

Old Tom use to jump up on the kitchen window at night while we were doing the dishes and meow and purr and walk back and forth on a very thin ledge to get my mother's attention.

She would then take the dinner scraps that she had saved for him and walk out on our uncovered, back porch and bang his dinner bowl and call him and he would come a running to eat. I think he was the best fed cat in town.

Cat food from the store had never crossed his lips. I don't even think you could buy cat food in the store back then. Gosh it was back in the l940s. Maybe you could but we never could afford it. Since we lived in Southern California and it wasn't all that cold in the winter, Old Tom would sleep in a bed of ivy that grew up the side of our house. I used to worry about him getting cold but my mother assured me that Old Tom was as warm as toast in that ivy. She said if he got cold he would go find a place to sleep in our garage. I guess she was right because we had him for a long, long time.

I remember when he stopped showing up at night when she banged on his bowl and called him. After about a week she told me that he had probably moved on. I believed her because I wanted to. However, I never could understand why any cat would want to move on to another location. Especially when he had it so good at our house.

Every once in awhile I would catch her standing on the back porch calling his name and leaving scraps for him. I suspect she missed him a lot more than she ever let any of us know. We did get another cat eventually. We called him Smokey. The last dog that my parents had was a dog I gave them called Spot. Spot was a medium sized dog and part Pungi. The rest of him was the usual Heinz 57 variety. I inherited Spot when I was married and we lived in an apartment building that didn't take animals.

My parents were never going to have another dog because at that time they were traveling back and forth from Utah to California all the time. They wintered in California and summered in Joe's Valley at our mountain home.

Well, I devised a plan and it worked. Since our place in California had finally gotten a fenced in yard, I ask my Dad if he would keep Spot just for a couple of weeks until I could find a place for him. I knew that it wouldn't take long for my Dad to take a shine to him. I was right. Two weeks stretched into a month and so on. Every once in awhile my Dad would ask, "You found a place for this dog of yours?" I would answer, "not yet."

Pretty soon Old Spot had found his home. He traveled in his very own made-to-order dog box in the back of my parents truck, to and from California for 10 years. It was called Spot's Pad. He wintered in California and summered in Utah.

During deer season in Joe's Valley, he wore a red scarf around his neck. He was fed by every person staying in the Reeder Creek subdivision. That's what we called it. Old Spot had his run. Every night he would make his rounds going from one cabin to another. He also carried notes back and forth from the neighbors to my parents. He knew who fed him steak and who gave him cookies. He never missed a night.

When my Dad left this earth, I inherited Old Spot. He slept on my son's bed. He couldn't hear very well. Every morning I would get up and go in and holler in Old Spot's ear to get up. I would yell at the top of my lungs and he would look up at me and stretch as if I had just whispered in his ear. I used to swear that I was going to put a mirror by his mouth to see if he was still breathing. I treated him with respect and dignity and he lived inside my house until he died of old age.

The children on the block loved him. When he died they planned a memorial for him.

Unbeknownst to me, they brought over stuffed animals. They made a marker from him and we even said a few words about him. About eight children attended and they even furnished refreshments of cookies and Kool-aid. Quoting from one of the children that spoke, "Old Spot was 'a good old dog.'" That he was.Well people, that's my world.

Until next time remember, "Cherish all your happy moments: they make a fine cushion for old age."

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March 16, 2004
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