27 March 2012

Pets are Family too!

My cat, Twix, has a fascination with my walk-in bedroom closet.  She meows to get inside it just about every time we're changing and has on occasion gotten locked inside the closet because we didn't know she was in there and shut the door.
My great uncle Bill hugging the family dog, early 1900s

In researching family trees, pets are often overlooked.  But talking about them can bring the best memories to light.   My dad has said he's never liked cats, but yet we had a cat when I was a baby, proof below, and another when I was growing up in Southern California.

Tigger, my dad, and baby me
When I was a baby, my parents also owned a Labrador dog named Lucas that guarded me and taught me how to walk.  He was a sweet dog but super protective of "his" baby.  He was killed when he was hit by a car.  A neighbor had let him out.

My maternal grandparents owned a dog by the name of Whiskey.  He was a terrier of some sort and a small dog, but I could remember him being mean, or maybe he was just annoyed by the little kids that bugged him (myself included).  He loved only my grandfather, and I know my parents have a picture of Whiskey sitting on Grandpop's lap.

My aunt, uncle, dad and PeeWee at Christmas in the 60s
My dad's family had a dog named PeeWee.  He was featured prominently in family pictures as another one of the kids and was well loved by my dad and his siblings. 

And again at Easter
My great-grandparents had a cocker-spaniel named Rusty that they loved to walk.  The dog was rusty colored and mean to some of the grandchildren that were almost always at the house, and actually snapped at one of my mother's cousins when she was a child.  He was stopped by a command from my great-grandfather.  That stories sparked a conversation that opened up a flood of memories about a generation that has been gone for over 50 years. 

A cousin's dogs in 1951
Pets are a large part of our lives in the present.  Why can't they also be a part of our past as well?  So often converations about pets are limited when interviewing people about their family history.  Sometimes a mentioned pet will bring a smile to someone's face and start an entire conversation of happy moments in a family members life.  Even thinking backon my own life, I find myself smiling over pets I have had:

Besides Lucas and Tigger the cat, there was Woo-Woo the white labrador that was a bit of a pet.  There was Grouchy, our lab-cocker mix that we had from the time I was five until well into high school who loved to eat crayons and tinsel and was anything but grouchy.  There was Charlie, the loveable mutt and the only dog to ever bite me, though he didn't mean to. (My brother, on the other hand, seems to have been a dog-bite magnet, having been bitten by at least three dogs in his childhood). There was Boo-Boo Kitty, the ferocious tom-cat who loved pick fights with possums and other cats as well as curl up in a lap and sleep.  There was Moses, the stray we had for a month before he passed away.  There was Tigger the orange tabby that my husband and I owned for a year before we had to give him away.  There was also the countless numbers of fish and bugs and other small creatures that my siblings and I owned growing up, including a salamander and a crawdad.

My two cats, Barbossa and Twix
There are also the present day animal family members.  There is Moose, my parents' lovable and old labrador-mastiff mix that enjoys a warm spot and getting all the attention he can and has been with my parents since I was a senior in high school.  And of course, there are my wonderful cats Twix and Barbossa who live with me now.  My sister also owns two crazy and loveable terrier dogs.  They are all members of my family, and offer as much love and affection as the human members do.

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