To All the Pets I’ve Loved Before

posted January 18th, 2017 by
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Nicole Castillo

Valentines Day is a little less than a month away and love is in the air.

As a writer, I like to tell and hear stories of love. The heart always makes for a wonderful tale. Right now I am reminiscing the furry kind of love. As a pet lover, coming from a family of pet lovers, many a paw has crossed my path, and left its imprint on my heart.To all the pets

There was Ginger, my first dog. She has a bouncy chow mix puppy handed to me through the door of an old two-story house in an old neighborhood in Waco, Texas. I was eleven and found the ad for free puppies in the Thrifty Nickel. It was night and my dad accompanied me to the doorstep of the dark house. No words were spoken. I rang the bell, a man came to the door and shoved this little ball of sandy fur into my arms. I turned to my dad, and he asked. “Do you want it?” I looked at the bright blue eyes and there was no thinking about it. I turned to thank the man at the door, but it was already closed. My mom got a black kitten that night from the basement of another strange house. She named him Ebony. And so began the chapter of Ginger and Ebony in my life.

We had had cats before, a large ginger cat deemed Curio slept under my crib when I was a baby, but I don’t remember him well. Ginger and Ebony were the animals of my childhood. I loved those rascals. Ginger was smart and protective. Ebony was calm and gentle. We traveled back and forth to Indiana a lot to see my moms’ family, and I crocheted them leashes and harnesses. People at rest areas and truck stops would watch the fluffy chow and pudgy black cat walk side by side around the parking lot. They were a fine team.

To all the petsWhen I was around 15, my dad brought home a black lab mix puppy. We named her Rachel and she was one of the most obedient dogs I have come across. Well, most obedient to my dad! I was in school and he was home and Rachel was in love with him! She would ignore me and listen only to him. We lived in tropical south Texas then, and had problems with rats out in the country. He would point to a box in the garage and tell her to “get it” and she would dive into the box, snatch the rat, and bring it to him. Crazy. She also loved jumping in and out of the driver side window of his pickup truck. I remember the day she leaped out at a busy four way stop turned around and leaped back in. I almost had a heart attack and my dad just laughed and laughed.

When my husband, Carlos, and I were newly married, we adopted a tiny golden retriever puppy and named her Zaboo. We loved her to pieces. She was a precious little soul. When she was young, she had a mean bout of Ehrlichia and almost passed away. We sat on the bed with her, crying over our sick pup. We feed her chicken and rice, gave her meds, and nursed her back to health on that bed. We read whole books to each other, chapter by chapter, with her in the middle of us. She got better and returned to the darling puppy she was, and we breathed a sigh of relief. Zaboo was our first fur baby together.

To all the petsCheyanne was our second dog together, and lo and behold, she is still with us, 16 years later. Cheyanne is a border collie mix. I adopted her from the Harlingen Humane Society in Harlingen, Texas. She was with a litter of shiny black lab pups. A feisty fluffy ball of fur. That night, we put her in a crate with blankets and toys and turned off the light. It was then that we learned this little creature’s cry sounded like a baby screaming. It was so disturbing! That is when I learned to put the puppy in a box by my side of the bed, and hang my hand over into the box so we all could sleep. Each puppy we’ve brought home after that has been raised the same way. Cheyanne is the most clever dog I have ever known. She was so very alert when she was young. Bright eyes, bushy tail, ears up. She has had many adventures. She’s swam in the ocean, sailed Lake Washington, trotted through Las Vegas, and herded children, puppies, and an ornery goat when we needed her to. She was with me the day I got the call my mother had passed away, and supplied us with comfort the months that followed. Now, she has arthritis, a heart murmur, and is going deaf, but she still brings us joy each day. She mumbles all the time. I think it is because she can’t hear herself anymore. It’s a bit annoying, but mostly funny. In her twilight years, she has taught us patience. To be still and pay attention. To treasure the moments with this little one who has seen us through many phases in life.

All of these are love stories. Some of these pets have passed on, but the memories are there, welling up inside with a bittersweetness. I wouldn’t trade any of the paw prints on my heart for anything. I will leave the tail of my two cats, Kitty and Tim, for next time.

These are not all the pets that have called me family. To go into the complete chronicles of all the animals I have adored would take much more than a blog. And I would need to add fish, chicken, and guinea pig chapters.

To all the petsAll animal people have their love stories and I would love to hear yours. I will be sharing your tales for the next few blogs before Valentine’s Day. Please share in the comments here, or this post on Facebook, or you may email me at [email protected].

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