Critters & Me

I have loved animals all of my life. I realized early that their love is unconditional. Animals do not judge. They accept you; they do not ask for explanation. They never expect more than you can give, appreciating what you are able to offer. 

Throughout my life, I have been able to share with several kinds of critters. Pets were my best friends, as a kid. I moved often, attending eleven schools. Critters can be counted on when no one else is available.

My earliest pets were turtles. There were many of the small water turtles. They lived in plastic bowls, with the little island that had the plastic palm tree. I had quite an extensive turtle cemetery, out behind the house. Each grave was marked with a rock and a prayer. After awhile, there were so many rocks that even I couldn’t remember which were actual graves!

I gave up on them when we adopted Snoopy the painted turtle. She came from family friends who caught her while fishing in a local river. She was blind in one eye, but I thought she was beautiful. I guess it was obvious that I wanted a dog when I named her Snoopy. Bashful was a rescued tortoise that we later acquired. Someone had painted her shell.

There was also a succession of box turtles: Nagi, Nova, Belle, Ivy, and Studs. Each had their own personality and set of traits. They came from abusive or neglectful homes. We took in snakes, lizards, and other reptiles and amphibians, too. While turtles and reptiles seem low maintenance, they are living creatures with specific needs. Temperature, clean water and proper diets are critical with all living things.

We have cared for hundreds of tropical and native fish. Bill is the fish expert, and I learned much through him. We have cared for both small, fragile tropical fish, and huge predator types. Each one of them taught us something, as well.

Many rodents came in and out of my childhood. Snowball was my albino hamster, who did not like to be awakened. Perdita was the guinea pig rescue. A family in our apartment building did not want her. She was very noisy and loved to eat! Stanley the gerbil turned out to be Taffy, and not a Stanley, at all. Her cage-mate was Oliver, who was a male gerbil. I rescued Roscoe the mouse, from a date with a snake. There were pet rats, too. Much later, there were dormice. They all had reasonably short lives, but left a lifetime impression on me.

I have had the blessing of knowing birds, too. There was Rosalee Dove, and Dale Birdheart, both of which were wild doves. There was Jo-Jo the baby starling, and Virgil Vulture, who was not really a vulture. God sent them all to be cared for, when they could not do it for themselves. We gave them what they needed, and received love in return.

There have been the occasional really “wild” animal, like Rasputin the skunk, and the families of raccoons and opossums. I have also been blessed by unique pets, such as John Henry the squirrel monkey, who rode on the backs of puppies, as if in a circus show. When he came to us, he had been neglected. His collar was embedded in his neck. With proper medical care, he turned out just fine. He was very entertaining, if a bit ornery.

I have loved some special rabbits, too. Razzle-Dazzle, Buck, Rusty, and Cotton were rabbits I cared for as a child. They lived in a long wooden, sectioned coop out back, behind the house. I was very devoted to them. I have raised many wild bunnies, with an eyedropper, love and patience. These, however, I release back to the wild. They are God’s animals, not mine. They are shared with me for only a short time, because they need me.

I have had the fortunate experience of being a veterinary technician. I then operated my own pet-sitting/pet care business. I have always shared my home with numerous cats and dogs throughout my life, and will continue to do so. Rescue has been a very important part of that. I cannot say they were mine, or I was theirs. They remain with me always. I love animals for the lessons and love that they give. 

I am sure there will be more animals in my life, as I leave my heart open for them. I believe that God loves animals, because He makes so many of them, and so many kinds, as well. I am thankful to have known the ones He has shared with me, and I look forward to knowing and loving many more. I believe I am a better person for having them in my life.

31 thoughts on “Critters & Me

  1. Animals are the best and I couldn't live without them. They are my best friends. You sure have had a bunch of them yourself. Love the story about the turtles. Have a super day.


  2. I too had turtles. It seemed when was growing up we all had turtles in little bowls.

    I never got into hamsters though. But we have always had cats and dogs and I love love love birds!

    Thanks for stopping over. It was great to hear from you!

    Happy Monday!


  3. You have been given a special gift to have so much unconditional love for animals. I didn't know that you were a veterinary technician. It suite you so well.

    I've rescued birds and small animals and then let them go too.
    We found a painted turtle in the middle of a busy highway and stopped to pick it up and then brought it to our Provincial animal park to be taken care of by people who were able to care for it and had the great outdoor fenced in so thousand people could also enjoy seeing it it it's natural habitat.

    I was repaid back by getting a car load of kids free entry to the park for the whole day to see all the animals in their natural habitat although areas were all fenced in. They all had access to fresh water, trees in a natural environment. The kids loved it.


  4. What a great name for a pet – – Rasputin. Of course I'm sure that's your literary bent speaking. I, too, moved many times as a child and you're right…pets were my cross-over friend too. What a blessing!


  5. What a great name for a pet – – Rasputin. I'm sure that's your literary bent speaking. I, too, moved a lot as a child and pets were the connection between old and new homes and friends. What a blessing.


  6. My parents hate animals, so we never had any growing up. My family and I got our dog a year ago. I never thought I would care for an animal until she came along. It's like I heard on TV recently….pets are like cell phones. Once you get one, you can't remember your life without it.


  7. I bonded with critters as early as I can recall. Living in apts in Chicago, dogs & cats weren't allowed. When we moved to Texas, I got my 1st dog at ten…that was it! A cat followed shortly thereafter.


  8. Thank you so much for this post. I have always loved animals probably from birth. I was ridiculed for it in my family my whole life and it still goes on. I would love to take care of every single four legged person I could. If I had lots of money, a huge sum of it would go to animals.


  9. Amen, Roe. I am totally with you. The rescue we do is on our own, strays we find, or of word of mouth. Strays find us. We lost our old coydog last year, at 17. She was a rescue from Arizona, word of mouth. There have been many. I love them all.


  10. You touched many hearts with this post. I question the heart of anyone who doesn't love animals, though I think it has more to do with lack of experience. You and I parallel in our loving of animals and having had almost every kind as a pet at sometime in our lives. I had rats, mice, chickens, ducks,birds of many kinds(both wild and domesticated), even a rescued Screech Owl until his wing healed and we released him, frogs, toads, cats and dogs, of course. My mother had a knack for caring for injured animals so we learned to love them and care for them through her. AS you know, I still spend time with the rescued Raptors and, of course, have a house full of cats and a dog. What would life be without these wonderous friends … I can't imagine. Thank you Annie, for reminding us of how blessed we are …

    Andrea @ From The Sol


  11. Yes, I didn't include my snapping turtle, love birds, canaries, finches, frogs, toads, crabs, crawdads…but they will all be in my book. Definitely blessed by each and every one. They make everything better, including me.


  12. I grew up in a dog home. When I first moved out on my own, I lived in rentals that didn't allow dogs. My boyfriend (now husband) helped me research the best kind of pet for someone who could frequently move and decided on a guinea pig. I fell in love with mine, went onto eventually adopt two more, and also wrote stories about them.

    Along the way, a stray cat also came into my life. I call her my “angel” cat, because she showed up when I first started working with behavior students. I'd come home to cry and there she would be in my yard. Now she lives indoors with my husband and I. We have no idea of her age, except she's lived me with me seven years.

    My third guinea pig died in my arms this morning and will my last at least for a time. Through my three guinea pigs, I rediscovered my childhood joy of writing. For that gifts and their love, I'll ever be in debt.


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