While writing my 12 days of pets series in December, I realized that I could (and should) also document the stories of my extended fur-family…a fur-filled family tree that, after noting everybody I could think of, is chock full of pets! 19+ other dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits who have each impacted my life in some way. Pretty awesome when I think about: I am 33 years old and have had that number of animals (and then some!) touch my life in a meaningful, lasting way. I am lucky. And thankful; thankful that my family members care about animals and continues to include other species in our family.
Partly because it’s fun to dig up old photos but mostly because I enjoy remembering and thinking about my fur-family, I plan to share stories of my non-human family members throughout 2013. It’s my way of celebrating and honoring my family tree which I believe is more than just names dangling from branches. I like to imagine my family tree as a tall, proud, beautifully full tree with tails and fuzzy ears, soft eyes, feathers, and paws of all sizes perched a midst the smiling faces of my favorite people. Close your eyes and think of your family this way. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face.
In addition to Chien, there were many other animals that filled my childhood with happiness. In my early years, there was Joshua, the Cockatiel, and Maggie, the bunny, each of whom came to us via a friend or co-worker of my mom and ended up staying for awhile. And, although he lived far away, my Uncle John had two big dogs and (what seemed like) lots of birds. I was quite young the first time we went California to visit him and can remember loving his dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Rottweiler, and being fascinated by the two birds I can remember: a Cockatoo and a Cockatiel. Also living in California, my Uncle Dan had a beautiful black cat named Taxi. And, my Aunt Patti had a dog…Bear, I think. Between our Michigan and California families, I feel like I grew up with a significant animal presence in my life. (Even more, I realize now, than I thought I did!)
My first encounter with a pet bird. I was four or five years old and we were visiting my Uncle John. Fascinated, I am pretty sure this Cockatiel was equally interested in the little person upon whom he was perched. When I look at this photo, I wish so much that I could go back and re-live that moment and feel the satisfaction of curiosity unanswered and pure innocence. Man, being a kid was awesome.
Several years later, Maggie came into our lives. I can remember my mom telling me that we were going to babysit a bunny for awhile and then Maggie arrived. She was soft and sweet and nervous as all get out. But, she let me pet her and hold her so I was happy. Maggie’s visit turned into months (years?) and then her mom collected her again. Clearly, as you can see, I loved having Maggie around.