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Voice: Pet memories should be the best memories

May 03, 2001

The hardest part of growing old and having to move into a small apartment for me has been not having a retinue of pets.

My happiest memories are of my pets, my saddest are of their deaths.

When I was 4 years old someone gave me a puppy. I was in heaven! But my heaven quickly turned to hell when my father took the puppy away from me and left it to fend for itself. The horror of that abandonment of my little black-and-brown friend stays in my mind. I cannot bear to see an animal abandoned. And I never stopped loving Teddy and still grieve when I think of him.

There are too many sad stories to tell of pets deliberately stoned or killed. Slap-Happy, a huge gray dog, was poisoned by a neighbor who later accidentally poisoned his own dog by mistake. Princess Pat, a small white Spitz, was deliberately run over in her own yard by a motorcyclist who was later killed when he lost control of the motorcycle and ran into a store wall. Perti, a bow-legged Persian cat, was stolen by a man who offered me $50 for her — a fortune in the days of the Great Depression. I refused the $50. I would have refused $150,000, so he came back and cat-napped her, not caring that he was breaking a child's heart.


I've literally had hundreds of pets — white mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, baby chicks, baby pigs. I haven't space to tell you about all of them. So I'll only tell you about the rabbits.

I come from a family of workaholics, but in the years of the Great Depression there were few jobs to be had. My father, an old man when I was born, found it very difficult to find work. By the time I was 10 it was almost impossible.

A green grocer gave me the rabbits so he could have an excuse to give us vegetables — ostensibly to feed the rabbits, but actually to keep us from starving. We never had meat.

So I was happily surprised one day to have stewed meat with dumplings.

When I went out to feed my rabbits, they were gone. I was appalled when I learned that I had unwittingly eaten my pets. I upchucked every bite, dug their bones out of the garbage and gave them a Christian burial, and cried until I was sick. I still feel like a cannibal when I think of my pets being eaten.

A child does not forget. When you give it a pet, be sure that you will not create bad memories related to their pets.


El Centro

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