When I was growing up in Texas, my brother and I convinced my parents to get us a dog. We had a large yard, we were willing to share the pet responsibilities, so why not get a dog? My mother set her rules, the dog was only allowed in the kitchen and outside. The dog was not allowed in any other parts of the house. Period. And that is how an adorable beagle named, Patches, came into our lives.
Patches was the best dog ever – I mean ever. We chose a beagle because we were beloved “Peanuts” fan and we wanted a Snoopy of our own. Patches was sweet, gentle and loving. He hung out with me while I read my book, he loved to “chat” with the dogs next door, and he loved nachos. When the side gate was open, he’d bolt and run off. He was our dog and we loved him unconditionally.
The “Patches-stays-only-in-the-kitchen” rule held true for awhile. There were a few puppy moments where he found his way into the living room and he peed on my mother’s very blue and very expensive upholstered chair. Years later, whenever Patches felt the need, he returned to that chair and whizzed away. I suppose he liked the color blue.
For the most part, Patches sat just past the kitchen boundary, next to a Lazy-Boy where he was arm distance away from a delightful scratch by my dad’s dangling hand. This was the evening ritual while my father watched his evening tv after a long day at work. Patches eventually made it into the whole den, but that was the furthest he was allowed to roam inside of the house.
I remember numerous adventures with Patches. We added a black cat to our family, Meow-Meow. She was a giant-sized personality wrapped in a tiny black furry body. She hunted birds under the cover of the bushes until we had an Alfred Hitchcock moment where the birds teamed up. We would see 30 or more birds lined up on our roof, each taking turns as they swooped down on Meow-Meow for revenge. I’d run and scream and chase the birds away, but they would return when I wasn’t around. They never could catch her.
Meow-Meow would party every Halloween night and not return ’til the morning, stumbling in hung over with a hoarse meow. No matter how many times I tried to keep her in Halloween night, she’d always sneak out as trick-or-treaters arrived at our door! I wish I knew what she did on those nights.
We also had a second dog, an abandoned long haired German Shepard mix that followed my brother home when he went bike riding through a newly developed and empty neighborhood. No one claimed this pup or responded to our “found puppy” signs, so Floppy joined our family. Floppy was obviously an abused a pup, extremely skid dish and missing a few marbles. But, she was a real sweetie and a loyal companion and follower of Patches. Think of Odie, in “Garfield.” That was our Floppy. A bundle of fur, slobber and an always-wagging tail, eagerly waiting for us to play with her.
These were my pets growing up. And I remembered them fondly as I read Stephanie Weaver’s book, “Golden Angels.” In her book, Stephanie writes about how she longed for a dog all her life, about the loss of her darling golden retriever, Buddy Girl, and the arrival of her newest golden, Daisy May. Stephanie is my friend and fellow food blogger at Recipe Renovator. And I met Daisy when she was a pup, not too long away. She stole my heart away, too.
“Golden Angels” celebrates why we love our pets. The essays are beautifully written – I always envied Stephanie’s ability to eloquently weave her words, while I struggle so hard with random thoughts and feelings, often creating new grammar and spelling rules as I go along.
I won’t lie. The book will make you cry. It will tug at your heart strings. It will also make you laugh and smile. Buddy-Girl’s last day reminded me of my beloved pets’ last days. Patches grew old and collapsed in our backyard while I was away in college. Meow-Meow had a shorter life. She contracted feline leukemia, just months prior to the vaccine becoming available. I held her in my arms and stayed with during her last night, before my dad took her to the vet to be put down.
Floppy was the last. She stayed with parents when they moved to a smaller house. She grew old, grew slow and developed cataracts, but she still greeted us with her floppy tongue and happy tail. But alas, she too became sick and had to be put down.
I did have a pet as an adult, a cat name Tigger. Tigger was a lady and my companion during my single years. Poor Tigger became ignored as I popped out my babies. I didn’t notice she was ill until she, too, collapsed. I rushed her to the vet only to hear that her kidneys were failing – a common ailment for older cats.
Why do we continue to adopt pets when we know their time with us is finite? As Stephanie writes, “The day you bring home a dog, the clock starts. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you will bury that dog.” And yet we continue to adopt pets and where they bury themselves deep within our hearts.
“Golden Angels” reminds me of this need to give love and receive love. I read the book in it’s entirety in one afternoon. Stephanie includes a beautiful and poignant vegan/gluten-free recipe for each chapter, as well. It is a terrific book to share with someone who is mourning a pet, someone who wants to reminisce about childhood pet, or for any pet lover. It is currently available for the Kindle, through Amazon. It will be widely available (on iTunes, Nook, Kobo) in mid-May. And now, 10% of all sales through May 31, 2013 will be donated to the San Diego Humane Society/SPCA. Stephanie will chose a different charity every month to donate to starting in June.
And you can get a FREE download from Amazon this Friday, March 22, 2013. Get it for yourself, or gift it to a grieving friend.