For almost our entire married life, Larry and I have had pets. We both grew up with pets, but not house pets. During our childhoods, animals lived in the yard. However, research says that owning pets is good for us. It lowers blood pressure and prevents depression. Animals are great companions and love us no matter what we do. We’ve certainly reaped the benefits of all the good animals we’ve owned, or maybe I should say of all the animals that have owned us. There have been a few drawbacks over the years.
Our first house pet was Henrietta, named after Mr. Rogers’ cat on television. Our oldest child, Calvin, was about 5 at the time, and he would sneak up at night and let her into the house and into his bed. I knew what he was doing, but saw little harm in it. Our baby Jakey was about 6 weeks old. One night Henrietta jumped up on our bed and meowed loudly enough to awaken Larry. He sat up spitting and sputtering.
“How did that cat get in the house? I’ll put her out,” he said, lunging for the black cat.
She stayed just out of his grasp and ran back to the boys’ room. There she jumped up into the baby’s crib, and we discovered that the baby had a fever of 105. We took him to the emergency room, and Henrietta moved in. She could now come in whenever she chose. Calvin was ecstatic.
One December Santa brought the boys puppies for Christmas. When it was time to return to school after the holidays, my mother agreed to keep the boys and the puppies. The first day back, I had carried the boys inside and gone back for the puppies. The rain gushed from the sky that cold January morning. I had a puppy under each arm when I stepped in a hole and fell. I discovered how very difficult it is to get up while holding on to wriggling puppies, even without the sprained ankle I’d incurred in the hole.
It was my beautiful black lab Maggie that snatched me down at the track and broke my arm. She saw a child getting out of a car and we suspect she thought it was Stuart, my grandson and her best play buddy. When she took off to greet him, she jerked me down onto the pavement.
And Kermit and Bentley, pony-sized themselves, were horsing around in the yard when they ran into me and knocked me down. When I heard the crack and felt the pain in my leg, I knew: my first broken leg.
Currently, I’m recovering from quite a fall I took about a week ago. This time I have Charlie to thank. Early Friday morning he and I were outside for a morning stroll when a huge dog appeared at the edge of the yard. Charlie lunged to chase the interloper away from his territory and his favorite person. A black lab of 65 lbs, Charlie’s quite strong. I fell, hitting my cheek bone on the bumper of Larry’s truck and my shoulder on something—I have no idea what--the ground maybe. I won’t describe the getting-up process. It’s far too painful, but Charlie was licking me in the face during the whole process. So now I sit/lie here recuperating slowly. I take long naps and watch too much television, since my fractured cheek bone still aches and the broken shoulder prevents any semblance of comfort day or night. I am an invalid. It could have been worse, of course, but I am a terrible patient.
I do not blame my dogs for any of my accidents. They are, after all, just dogs. I’m supposed to be the adult in charge. They’ve provided me with love for many years of my life and continue to do so. Maybe I’ve learned with this accident to be more careful.
In the meantime, Calvin, Josh, and Stuart are planning Thanksgiving Dinner. I will serve only in an advisory capacity this year for the first time. And I’m expecting a representative from my insurance company to appear on my door step to tell me about the “No Pet” clause that’s now been added to my policy.