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To All the Pets I've Loved Before

#petparent #doggobloggo

Since I referred to pets who shared our homes and hearts with us in past years, I wanted to take a moment to remember them and bring them to life here.  They were all very special to us and helped to shape our lives as devoted pet parents.

Kate & Allie

When I was a young, single 20-something working in Dallas, I lived alone and wanted to adopt a furry critter but my business travel schedule demanded a 'low maintenance pet'. So I got a kitten.  In fact, I got two kittens.  Someone told me that if you get two, they'll play with each other instead of the curtains.  So I did.  And then they both played with the curtains.  :)  Editorial note: Curtains are overrated.

Kate and Allie, named after a popular sitcom of the time, were the dynamic duo.  Allie grew to be a regal feline who sat tall and had elegant Siamese markings.  Kate was just the opposite - a tiny wisp of a tuxedo kitty who never weighed more than 7 pounds.  Their personalities were as different as their physiques.  Allie was elegant and understated.  Kate, despite her tiny stature, was the huntress.  Nothing was safe.  I never knew what 'gift' she was going to proudly bring to me.  One night, she brought home a rabbit (unharmed, and we let it go).  But I'm pretty sure that rabbit outweighed her.  She was fierce, and boy does that rabbit have a story to tell.  :)

Over the years, Kate and Allie navigated many things with us - home moves, a marriage (and living with a human who was allergic to them), long distance phone calls from their mom working in Australia, the addition of a dog, travel on an airplane and a move to another state.  In their 15 years, they saw a lot of action.  We lost them one at a time, Allie first and then little Kate.  I do miss them - outside of the cat hair, dander and scratched up furniture - but we lived our best lives together, and I have wonderful memories of the joy they added to our home.


Enter Tucker, a bouncy, huggable Australian Shepherd rescue who immediately stole my heart at the Adopt-A-Pet kiosk in the mall.  I wasn't looking to adopt a dog that day, but when I walked by Tucker's pen, he abruptly abandoned the person petting him and made a beeline for me.  That's when I knew he was going home with me.  I phoned up the hubs and said, 'Ummm, I found this dog, and he just picked ME...'.  And with that, Tucker rescued us both.

Having been assured by the adoption folks that Tucker was healthy, we immediately had him checked out with our vet and discovered that he actually had heart worms.  We knew we didn't have to keep him - he was 'returnable' due to the health issue.  But he was not returnable for our hearts, so we vowed to do what it took to help him get healthy.  And over time, healthy he became.

Tucker was a beautiful dog.  He had a thick, rusty brown coat and, appropriately, big warm puppy-dog eyes. And everything about him was happy.  He didn't walk; he pranced.  And as he pranced, his ears bounce bounce bounced like he was the lead pup in his own parade. He could hardly wait for us to finish the dinner dishes at night, because he knew his walk around the neighborhood was next on the agenda.  He would sit and stare at me as I put the last dish away, just waiting for the sign.  Every night, like clockwork, he was ready for his own parade.

Tucker navigated and survived lots of things with us, too.  He lived through accepting cats - he never barked once at Kate & Allie, not even the first day they met.  He moved several homes and road tripped across the country with us in an interstate move.  He learned to be a Florida dog, which meant putting up with transplanted NY cats, not nearly as hospitable as Texas cats.  He was just a good, good boy; one of the best, and we loved him well.  We lost him at what we think was about age 14, but we are left with memories full of joy when we think about our Tucker and what a good boy he was.


Towards the latter part of Tucker's life, we decided to add a new pup to the mix to help take the full sting out of the inevitable future loss of Tucker, who was getting up there in dog age. (I call this 'tag team pets'.) Enter Baci, a lively Shih-Tzu ball of fluff.  Yet another impulse pet adoption (I know, I're not supposed to do that, but do you sense a pattern here?)  One minute we're innocently having lunch.  The next minute, we're a Shihtzu's new humans.

Baci was our road warrior...or rather, air warrior.  He earned more airline mileage than most people. He flew with us back and forth about once a month between my job in NYC and my home in Florida.  And he was happy during every minute of it, gleefully happy.  At 14 pounds, he fit nicely in his carrier (which he loved) under the seat in front of us, so it was easy to take him along.  The biggest thing I learned from traveling with a pet? That EVERYONE should travel with a pet.  Why?  Because people talk to you.  Strangers who wouldn't normally give us the time of day would come up, want to pet him and then would voluntarily share a picture and stories of their own beloved pup.  It was a real bonding moment, and the world would be a much better place if everyone traveled with a dog.

Our only 'oops' moment on a plane with Baci was mid-flight between NYC and Florida, when we reached down to pet him in his carrier under the seat, and he was in HE'S NOT IN THERE....which also meant he was SOMEWHERE ELSE on the plane, cruising around under the seats. Imagine our panic. I had visions of the flight being diverted to Charlotte because a dog was loose on board! Happily, the person sitting in front of us was a dog person and recognized a sniffing pooch when he felt it, so Baci didn't get very far.  The row in front of us returned him, and all was well. Whew!

Like his older brother Tucker, Baci was also the best boy ever. He adapted well from his early years in Texas, to his later years splitting time between Florida and NYC.  I remember how worried we were that he would be confused in the City and would not know how to do his 'business' there, since no grass existed, and his choices were either sidewalk or sidewalk.  Happily, he had it figured out in the first 15 minutes - you just 'go' where the other dogs 'go'. Problem solved.  And with that, Baci added 'City Pup' to his dossier.  He blessed City Hall Park daily.

Baci never met a person he didn't smile at, nor a lizard he didn't want to chase.  He had the respect of the neighborhood squirrels, even though he could never catch one, even on his best day.  He was the happiest, funniest, fuzziest boy ever, and we loved him well.  Sadly, he suffered from Cushing's Disease in his last few years, and we had to say a heartbreaking goodbye at age 14.  But ohhhh...what a good boy.  That's him in the featured photo, smiling at us from under the airplane seat.  What a little traveler he was.  


And now there's Miss Mia, our ShihTzu 2.0 (also known as Princess Penelope von Poopington).  She's 2 years old now, a lively girl, pretty as a picture and as feisty as they come.  She tolerates me but LOVES her dad; it's not even close, and I'm the one who feeds her!  She's very different than her predecessor, but we also love her well.  We look forward to sharing the adventures of being Mia's humans as the evolves.

Thanks for putting up with my pet parent memories.  I'd love to hear about some of the pets you've loved before.  Drop me a note and tell me about them in the comments section.





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