I’ve always been quite the animal lover, a bit of a pet aficionado, if you will. I was lucky growing up that my parents always supported my sister’s and my love of furry, gilled, and scaled creatures.
The first pet that I (or technically my parents) had when I was a child was a Mutt named Mudd. I really don’t remember Mudd very well, but I have heard the story countless times of how Mudd bit me and they had to give her away. I never really held the fact that she bit me against her. The bone (haha) I had to pick with her is the fact that my “porn name” (first pet+childhood street’s name) was horrible, partly due to the fact that her name was “Mudd.”
Mudd Oakview, to be exact. Now that’s not very porny now is it?
But I digress. After Mudd, we had a Brittany Spaniel named Copper, who I loved dearly. She had a penchant for escaping our backyard and got ran over when I was still in Elementary school, and I was devastated.
After Copper passed away, my parents got another Brittany named Cedar, and I got a couple of my very own mice- Hershey and Snowflake. It was around this time that I began to spend many of my afternoons hanging out at the neighborhood pet store- chatting with the owner and gazing into cages as snakes swallowed mice whole and Guinea Pigs hid in giant plastic tubes. My best friend and I even formed our very own “Animal Club,” where we would read books about animals and discuss our favorite species. I know what your thinking. And yes, I have always been this cool.
My pet “collection” began to grow at a very rapid pace. We got a Red Spectacled Amazon Parrot, who loved Cheetos but was bald because another bird plucked all of his feathers out. We got an iguana named Spike, who enjoyed whipping his tail at me if I tried to hold him. We had a box turtle (Strawberry Shortcake) who either got ran over in my backyard or eaten by my dog, I can’t remember. We had an evil Sugar Glider named Sprite who would make this awful hissing sound every time I tried to get him out of his cage, and then he would proceed to fly on top of the curtain or to some other surface that I couldn’t reach where he would sit for days. On top of that, we had several frogs (I don’t remember their names,) a few other lizards, a couple parakeets (Blanco and Shreck,) a cockatiel, several hamsters that were all named Gizmo, a few fish tanks of fish both bought and caught with a sane at the farm. Eventually the 2 little mice procreated and so on, until we had at least 30. Needless to say, there were times when my room was quite smelly.
With each new addition, I would have a 3 month or so obsession over my new pet, until I set my sights on a new species and my attention would slowly wane.It wasn’t that I loved the pets any less, I just have always had a short attention span and I like to spread my love over a variety of different animals.
By the time I left for college, all of my pets with the exception of my sister’s beloved toy poodle with an under bite, BB, had either been given away, had died, or had been let go at my farm. I still remember the day that I looked around my room and noticed that my 30 mice and the many cages with plastic tubes connecting them were missing. I started crying and asked my dad what happened to them. He told me they had all died… which I believed for a few days until my sister told me that he had let them go at the farm. ***The same devastating thing happened with the rat that my parent’s inherited from me when I moved into a house with a bunch of cats, just a few months ago.
The first few years of college I was content with not owning an animal of my own. Most of my attention was spent on my new friends and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. There was no way I would have been able to remember to clean out a hamster cage or coddle a bird.
One day a friend of mine decided that she wanted a dog and recruited me to go with her to the local humane society to help her pick one out. A few of us crowded into her Jeep and got ready to talk her out of anything too crazy. It was my first time in a pound in many years, and I had no idea that it would hurt so bad to see so many dogs who needed homes. We walked down the caged hallways and I stopped at each cage to stick my fingers through and pet each puppy dog on the nose as I read to see how much time they had left before they would be put down.
I still remember the yelping. It was high pitched and painful. I looked around to see what kind of animal could be capable of making such a sound. I made my way down the row until I found her.
She was up on her short hind legs, and she was shaking… probably from the pain that her own screech caused her ears. She was skinny, and had a head that was much too large for her body. My friends all crowded around holding their ears, proclaiming that “that” was the ugliest dog they had ever seen.
As soon as we caught eyes I knew. It was an instant connection. I knew with certainty that there was no one else in the world who would want such a creature.
I asked permission to have a few moments with the Franken-puppy. The lady who worked at the pound seemed a little surprised, but she obliged. She told me that she was most likely a mix of Pit Bull and Dachshund, with perhaps a bit of Shar-pei. The weird little dog shook her butt violently as the lady put her on a leash and led her to the waiting area. After only a few minutes of holding the dog in my lap, I had made my decision. I told the lady that I needed to run out to my car to get my check book (yes check book) so that I could pay the $10.00 for the puppy. (What a bargain!!!)
As soon as I opened the door to go out to the parking lot, my new dog bolted and took off in a sprint across the field nearby. I took off after her, and yelled the first thing that came to mind: “STELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAA.”
And so my new Picasso puppy had a name.
The first few months with Stella were a disaster. I kept her a secret from my parents while I attempted to potty train her and keep her from eating too many containers of roach poison. Stella ate everything and anything plastic, much like her momma. (What? I like chewing on pens!) She wet the floor every five minutes, and wouldn’t stop with the screech-bark. We had a couple close-calls with a razor and a few dozen Christmas ornaments, and I spent at least 30 minutes everyday chasing her around the neighborhood.
Eventually, as Stella and I grew closer and my patience grew stronger, she started learning how to behave- and I learned how to deal with her. We grew inseparable. She was literally my best friend.
A couple years ago I moved into a place where I couldn’t bring a dog. I had to take her back to my parent’s house for the time-being. I know, you are probably all thinking I’m a horrible Dog-Mom, but I swear to you this isn’t the case. I miss my puppy dog every day. More than getting home-sick, I get Stella-sick.
Lately, more so than ever. I had been contemplating bringing her to live with me when I move in a couple weeks, but she has spent the last few months out at the farm with my dad and her new best friend Penny, and now I think she really loves being a farm dog. Plus I think my dad really needs her right now.
I’m starting to have that “need-to-have-a-pet-itch” again, but now I’m worried that there are no other animals that will fulfill that void besides my Stella-bear. Who else could make me smile with their short little legs? Their Danny Devito body? Their dramatic personality!? (Stella cries like a baby when she gets a sticker in her foot, but I don’t blame her!)
What should I do??? Maybe get a Ferritt? A guinea pig?? Another pound puppy?
I miss STELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
I think my dad and I are going to have to work out some sort of joint-custody arrangement.
Really my whole point is, there is a reason the Westminster dog show isn’t open to mixed-breeds… and that’s because Princess Stella Rosita Devito Tootsie Bertha Brown Jr. would win every year.
My boyfriend John Cusack would say the same, I’m sure.