Well, for as long as I can remember I've always loved animals. I even love animals that no one else likes! I'm well-known for that. Yet, I tend to not like animals that everyone else likes. I don't know why half the time. Maybe because hearing about them, and seeing too many documentaries about them gets old after a while. But for as long as I can remember, I've always loved animals of one kind or another. I first became aware of this love for animals when I was in preschool. I think I was about 3 or 4 years old. The teacher brought in a little tiny toy poodle. That thing was soooooo little and sooooooooo CUTE!!!! And it had the cutest little smile on it's face when it looked at me. I don't remember much from when I was 3 years old, but that vision of that little tiny dog is so fresh in my memory, it feels like it just happened yesterday!
Amazingly enough that when I was that age, I remember I hated dogs! We had an Irish setter when I was that age and I absolutely could not stand that dog!!!! I hated to go out into our backyard because that's where we kept him. His name was Baron. Thankfully he didn't last long at our house. My ma was scared of him too. But that little toy poodle was nothing like an Irish setter!!! Toy poodles are little and cute. Irish setters are big and ugly! I still can't stand irish setters!! Though I like gordon setters. I would never want to have one though. The first pet our family had that I really enjoyed was an old cat named Pepper. I named him that. He just showed up on our patio one day and our family adopted him. I have a picture of me at 4 years old, on Christmas morning, holding that cat in my arms. He looks so huge too! I guess because I was a small child. I don't mean small in age, I was tiny at 4 years old!
I was a cat-lover for a lot of years after that. Ya know, I think all little girls are born cat-lovers?! I don't know why. May be their gentleness. Some of us outgrow that. I know I did! I liked cats up until I was about 5 years old. When I was 5, ma got a puppy once that changed my way of thinking. It was a skye terrier she named Sir Knight. I still remember the day she got him. Well, it was night. She was gone for hours, and I had no idea where she was. I knew at that time she'd been thinking about getting a puppy but I didn't think for one second that was where she was at. But sure enough, when she came home, there she was holding this little tiny black puppy with long hair covering his body. The first words out of my mouth was "Is he ours?" ma said "Yes. His name is Sir Knight." At exactly the same time, our close family friend also got her children a puppy and named it Fifi. Their's was a terrier-poodle cross and cute as heck!!! If I recall correctly, Fifi looked almost sheltie-like. Well, Sir Knight didn't last long at our place either. We only had him for 2 months. My ma was like that though! She wore out of pets too quickly and I always hated that about her!!! I would keep a dog forever and ever, if it was my own choice! But I was at the mercy of my parents, and ma would keep a pet for a few weeks, tire of it, and then give it away, and that caused a lot of stress on me as a child because we would get these pets, I'd get attached, and no sooner than I'd become attached that I would have to say goodbye!
The next pet we had was a cat named Midnight. Midnight and Pepper looked a lot alike, both were black and white domestic shorthairs. But Pepper was much bigger than Midnight. Well, I loved Midnight a lot! I remember we got her while we were living in Toutle, and when Mount St. Helens blew, Midnight had had kittens, and she and the kittens moved with us to California. I remember one of the kittens had deformed back legs, it was an unusual anomaly, and it actually healed it's self when the kitten got older. I remember that kitten went to a friend of some relatives we had living in California. This person actually named the cat "Retardo"!! UGH!!! She named the cat that because of it's deformed legs. I named that kitten "Ashley", because of Mount St. Helens. I would have felt a lot better if this friend had kept that name. Well, while we were there, I saw the kitten get older, and as I mentioned the leg problem she was born with actually healed it's self. Unfortunately that cat later died. It was killed by a dog. At that time, I was strongly into dogs, but because it was a kitten from my Midnight, who was also at this time gone, I felt especially bad by the loss of this cat.
Well, before Ashley (sorry, but I refuse to call that kitten "Retardo"!) was killed, we got another dog, her name was Dolly. She was a half collie and half St. bernard dog, and about 8 weeks old when we got her. I was so thrilled when we got Dolly, it was actually her that turned me into a dog-lover! I was about 8 years old when we got her. I never knew having a puppy was so much fun. My mind had become a lot less fuzzy, and frankly, my memories of Sir Knight had been wiped almost completely out. But not totally. But it was getting to know Dolly that made me a true dog-lover. And that love for dogs lasted for about the following 3 years. Well, Dolly had a problem. We had a houseguest at the time we got her. A woman named Pam, who was a friend of the family's. She had come to stay with us, and when she did, she spoiled Dolly. Dolly had actually gone from being a sweet, gentle puppy, to a monster! Pam came and stayed with us for about a month, then left. When she left, ma tried to get rid of Dolly by giving her to some other friends of the family. I was miserable when ma told me that she found another home for Dolly, and I began to weep. At exactly that moment, my pa called me on the phone. He knew I sounded sad and upset and asked me why I was crying. I told him it was because ma had gotten rid of Dolly, and I wanted her back. So pa said he was going to phone ma and talk her into bringing Dolly home. So we got off the phone, and I sat there in hopes pa would be able to convince ma to bring Dolly back. Well, he did, and ma brought Dolly home once again.
Well, once again, the plans were spoiled because Pam moved back in the house. This time, she stayed for about 2 months! I kept wondering if this odd woman, whom I didn't really know, had somewhere else she could go because every time she came over and stayed, Dolly would become loony! Well, this time when Pam moved out, ma said she was going to send Dolly to the pound once and for all. I begged her not to, but she didn't care. Pam had ruined Dolly's disposition. I was miserable again! I went to school hoping and praying that ma would reconsider. When I got home from school that day, it felt so strange not having Dolly jump up to greet me. I went to my room and cried my eyes out, for days!! So far, the only pet we ever had that has withstood the test of time was Midnight. We had her for a year. Most of our other pets were gone in only 4 months. That's about how long we had Dolly, and she was the longest-lasting next to Midnight.
Well, after Dolly, we got a german shepherd-like dog that I named Nanu, after a favorite character in a movie, played by Jan-Michael Vincent. I had a major crush on him when I was 8 years old!!! We had Nanu for about 8 months, and he broke Dolly's record. Well, he had a crush on the neighborhood wanderer, named Sleepy. Sleepy was a GSD/collie cross, and well known and liked. But her owner let her wander around a lot, and Nanu used to play with her all the time, like she was his big sister or something. Well, one day after church I came home, and usually one of the first things I did was get my play clothes on and play with Nanu in the backyard. Well, I went into the back yard, only to discover that Nanu was not there. I asked my father where he was and he didn't know. He said the last time he saw Nanu was when he was playing with Sleepy. So I went to the home of the guy who owned Sleepy, and asked him if he'd seen Nanu. He responded in a rather funny way if I remember correctly. I knocked on his door, and he answered. I told him that my dog was missing and was last seen with his dog, and asked him if he had seen Nanu. He said "No. Goodbye." and slammed the door in my face. I thought that was odd, but didn't think much of it because I was always brought up to trust the words of an adult. Nowadays I look back and I say "I'd be willing to bet anything that guy had a hand in Nanu's disappearance!" I don't know what he did to Nanu! But if I could find him and somehow slip him a truth serum, I'd find out he had some hand in my dog's dematerialization. Nanu was GONE!! I looked in every conceivable place, called the pound, called as many vet offices I could, even asked everyone who had met Nanu. No one had seen him. I never saw any trace of him again. Although my sis Anna claims she saw him late one night roaming in front of the house. But I would think if it had been him, he would have come into the yard and got back in his dog house, which he loved!! Well, if Nanu was still alive and just found another home, I hope he spent his years in a happy place. And if Sleepy's owner did have a hand in Nanu disappearing, I hope karma comes back to bite him HARD!!!!
Well, I spent my younger years favoring dogs and cats as far as animals go. But then in 1985, that all changed. We had another dog, Andy, who was a papillon. Well, one day I was watching TV and ma came in and bent down to program the VCR to record something. While she was bent over, Andy reached up with his nose and began sniffing ma's butt! I never knew dogs even did that until I saw Andy doing it that second! From that moment on, I was disgusted by dogs! Even now, dogs still do things that disgust me. However, I wouldn't trade having these little dogs for nothing else in the world!! But dogs were no longer among my favorite animals. About this time I began turning my animal love to other domestic animals. Among them, cats, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, cattle. We also lived on a farm, so I got to know these animals as well. Well, the following year, 1986, that all changed. I saw Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the story of a mongoose, and I liked it. It kinda inspired me to learn more about these animals, just to see if they really are anything like the animal portrayed in the cartoon. The more I learned about mongooses, the more I loved them. The studying I did on mongooses also inspired a story by a friend, now deceased. It was the story titled "The Mischievous Mongoose", and yes in a way (indirectly) it was inspired by Rikki-Tikki. The book is on the UMG Productions site, check it out!!
Well, this interest in mongooses sort of inspired interests in other exotic animals as well. Besides mongooses, at the time I was studying about marsupials, especially kangaroos, raccoons, weasels, otters, and panthers. At that time, I especially learned to love panthers. Yes, you read right!! I said I LOVED panthers!!! You name it, any kind of panther. Lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, I loved them all!! I think actually cheetahs became my favorite. And that lasted for about a year and a half. Then again in 1987, that all changed. That year, I was staying home from school sick one day, and I watched a documentary about lemurs of Madagascar. Well, I gotta tell you, they changed my whole outlook on animals! I'd recently gone to a zoo, and I would eyeball the panthers, but nothing compared to watching these lemurs jumping around from one tree to another! They were so good at it, they made it look easy! But I know it's not. It was due to this that I saw panthers in a very different light!! What I used to think were big, beautiful, majestic animals I now saw as ugly, lazy, boring animals!! When I was at the zoo, I realized, all they do all day long is just lie there on their bellies and backs! No action, nothing. So obviously, the documentaries I used to see on television about panthers exaggerated their lifestyles! Watching lemurs rocketing through the trees became much more fun and interesting! Like watching a very well choreographed ballet! Only these were performed by animals. Lemurs to be exact. I never saw anything of that nature performed by any panther!! The closest was by leopards and even their movements cannot even come close to comparing to those of lemurs!!! Lemurs are obviously more graceful, more mobile, better-looking, and more interesting than the panther family. And I believe that even to this day, 23 years later! I loved lemurs, left panthers behind and haven't looked back since. The only panther I give any amiability to today is the snow leopard. And well, even I cannot deny a family group their ONE good-looking relative. Snow leopards are truly a diamond in the ruff!! Every family has one!
Well, that's the story of my ever-changing love for animals. Nowadays, the only animals I don't like are arachnids and panthers. Both for different reasons. People actually think I'm joking when I say I hate panthers, but I am not! I truly do not like them. I get asked why a lot, and while I think it's a stupid question, I answer it anyway. Because I just do!! That's MY choice. I should not have to explain it to anyone really. If a person hates me because I hate panthers, then they are pathetic!! But take me as I am, and you're awesome!!! :)