Since Rgal and her family lost their pet rat Punzie, I started thinking of all the pets my sister and I grew up with. One of the best things about our parents was their love of animals and willingness to put up with all the creatures my sister and I dragged home. Anyway, I've found that people have great pet stories and are often at their best when they talk about them. This might belong on the "Brain Teasers from Your Field Thread," but I know that author Amy Hempel (short story collections <em>Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Annimal Kingdom</em>; novel <em>Tumblehome</em>) would not write in her first writing class unless she could write about animals. One of my favorite dog stories is Hempel's "Nashville Gone to Ashes" from <em>Reasons to Live</em>. So this thread is for anyone to share their stories about their pets.
Here's my start-off story, in honor of Punzie (sorry, it turned out longer than I'd intended):
We started off with rabbits by falling in love with one at the Arizona State Fair. She was a black and white saddleback and we named her Sally. I must have been about 8 and my sister about 4. Since we had no plans of buying a rabbit, we had nothing ready for Sally when we got home. Our dad set about building a temporary cage, and my sister and I were to watch Sally in her carrier in the house. Of course we wanted to hold and pet Sally, so against our father's orders we took her out of the carrier. If you've ever been an 8-year-old who has never held a rabbit, especially a scared one, you know how fast they can squirm out of your hands. Next thing we knew, Sally was off and running, darting in a state of panic around the house while my sister and I made things ever so much calmer by chasing her and screaming. Our parents of course heard the screaming and we all ran in just after Sally had made it to the back bedroom. The next screaming I heard I will never forget. The back bedroom had a floor length mirror and what we heard before we got in there was BAM! EEEEEEE! BAM! EEEEEEEE! over and over. What we saw in the bedroom was Sally jumping head first at full force into the base of the mirror. Her reflection must have seemed like another rabbit and the mirror an entrance to another room. That's what the BAM! sound was, and watching Sally use all her little might to try to get into that "other" room felt as awful as the sound. The EEEEEEE! was Sally screaming. Who knew rabbits screamed? There would be one long high pitched, ear-breaking sound--it seemed to last for minutes but it only could have been seconds--then Sally would take a breath, jump BAM! into the mirror, and then out would come another EEEEEE! Again my sister and I made things ever so much better by screaming, "Dad, help her! Make her stop!" Our dad moved in slowly toward Sally and picked her up by the scruff of her neck. I will always have the image of my father holding Sally in what seemed like a cruel way, Sally and my dad face to face, while Sally continued screaming EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Slowly our dad moved Sally to his arms and held her on her back, cradling her like a baby. He stroked her chest and belly and gradually Sally's screams lessened until she stopped. It was one of the many occasions I remember when our dad seemed like he could fix anything.
Our dad built a hutch for Sally and my sister and I were supposed to be on dooty scooper duty, but Dad filled in for us more times than he should have. The next year at the fair, we got another rabbit, a tan saddleback and named her Goldie. The people at the fair assured us that both Sally and Goldie were females, but just to be safe, Dad built a separate hutch. Around that time, a neighbor had an old rabbit that he could no longer care for, so we took her in one large white Mrs. Bunny. We had all three rabbits checked by the local pet food supplier and he assured us that all three rabbits were female, so we loosened up on the restrictions (you can see where this is going:lol: ). Our dad lined the fence with chicken wire and we would let Sally, Goldie, and Mrs. Bunny run around the back yard while my sister and my two cousins chased them. How we must have tortured those poor things!
We also had dogs at the time named Cookie and Lady (Lady was one of Cookie's puppies). Cookie and Lady's roles in all this were (a) to be jealous of the bunnies, and (b) to round them up when it was time to get them back in the cages. Cookie and Lady were thoroughbred mutts and how they decided to take on the job of rounding up the rabbits we'll never know. But after a couple of times of our entire family running around like fools for an hour trying to get the rabbits, apparently Cookie and Lady became embarrassed for us and took over. One day while my family and I were running around in vain, Cookie and Lady just took off and faster than rabbits can breed, the dogs had Sally, Goldie, and Mrs. Bunny herded into a corner. Cookie and Lady cut and ran in tandem as if they had been born to do it, and they never barked or growled once. But they did seem awfully proud of themselves for doing what the stupid humans obviously couldn't.
That summer we went on vacation for two weeks and as usual my sister and I called our cousins to come over as soon as we got home, excited to show them all our vacation junk. But my sister and I were upstaged when our cousins, Kim and Brett came in holding a white baby bunny. "Where did you get that?!" I demanded to know (my damn cousins were upstaging me with my Disneykins!). "We found it in the street," Kim said, and of course we didn't believe her. We all went out in the street, which was empty as usual, and I proceeded to call my cousins liars. Then my sister cried out, "Look! There's a baby bunny in the street!" We spun around and saw a tiny bunny that was the spit and image of our rabbit Goldie. Before we could take in the sight, another baby bunny, this one a black and white saddleback like Sally came hopping out from what seemed like our side yard. We went running to pick up the bunnies and see where they were coming from when more baby bunnies seemed to appear on the street out of nowhere. I thought God had come down and seen fit to bless us with baby bunnies.
My sister, cousins, and I were simultaneously trying to collect the bunnies and call to our parents that there had been a miracle when we saw a fast dark thing race out and grab the Goldie baby bunny with monster-like teeth. The next thing any of us knew, the entire neighborhood had come out of their houses, neighbors who would later say they thought someone was being murdered from the screaming. The screaming was my sister, cousins, and me chasing the Siamese cat from down the street--the cat that had baby Goldie in its teeth. We must have scared the hell out of the poor dumb cat since we found it cowering in the front bushes of its house, baby bunny Goldie still in its mouth.
I don't remember how we got baby Goldie home. The next thing I remember is our mother in the utility room holding baby Goldie in a towel in her lap. You could see baby bunny Goldie's chest going up and down very fast. I wanted to stay but our mother said it was best to keep the room warm, dark, and quiet, so she asked me to turn out the light and wait outside.
In the meantime, our father had been searching the back yard for the source of the Baby Bunny Miracle. We had a little rowboat that was turned upside down just behind the fence to our side yard. Although our father had already looked there, my cousins and I went rooting around there again. Just as we were about to turn over the boat again--POP!--another baby bunny came out from underneath it and went running off. We got the boat upended but try as we might, we could not find a hole. Then another bunny seemed to burst whole out of the grass. We started moving things away from that part of the grass and finally saw what looked like a small gopher hole. How I had the nerve to do this I'll never know, but I put my hand down the hole. As soft as a rabbit's fur is, the bottom of the hole was incomparably softer.
I went running yelling for our dad, "We found the hole! We found the hole!" But instead of our dad being excited that we had found it, he told my sister and me to go to our room. I couldn't understand why our dad seemed mad that we had found the baby bunny hole. My sister and I sat on the bed, not saying anything but figuring we were in trouble somehow. My sister and I were still sharing a room then since my sister was too scared to sleep in the bedroom our grandmother had before she'd died a few months earlier. I was annoyed, of course, that I was still having to share the room with my 'fraidy cat baby sister. My sister said she could feel my grandmother in the room. I didn't even care that my grandmother was dead.
After a while our mother came in. I asked her, "Is the baby bunny okay?" Our mother shook her head no. I asked her, "Is it sick?" Our mother shook her head no. I tried to ask the next question but I remember getting all squishy faced the way kids do and hearing my 'fraidy cat baby sister say, "Did the baby bunny die?"
The next thing I remember is crying and screaming on the bed for what seemed like days. Our mother tried to be nice to me but I had decided it was her fault that the baby bunny died and her fault that the Siamese cat had taken the baby bunny and her fault that the baby bunny that got taken and died was the one that looked just like Goldie, who was my favorite. So I was mean to my mother every time she tried to be nice to me.
That night was the last night my sister and I shared a room. The next night I moved my toys and clothes into what had been my grandmother's room. I went to bed in my grandmother's bed that night and in the morning, I remember being sorry she was gone.