As a girl, I was an animal lover. And still am. My parents gave me a fish tank, my first foray into the kingdom of animal ownership. In no time, I begged for a hamster. Later, a gerbil. And a German shepherd. And a cat. My parents indulged me, but they must have enjoyed the menagerie because they purchased singing canaries and a huge birdcage for nightingales and finches for themselves. Did I mention my parakeet and guinea pig?
Unfortunately cats made me sneeze. Not that my allergy stopped me from wading out into a busy five-way intersection to rescue a gray kitten. I also took in several canine strays, including a humongous Doberman pincher that bonded to me quickly and defended me fiercely when on leash. I finally brought the dog to a kennel to be boarded until its ski-bum owner showed up. The Doberman was wearing ID so I called and located the young man, who lived in another state. He’d lost the dog in a parking lot, then had gone skiing on Mount Baker for the day, anyway!
Once, I stopped on the freeway to save a wandering Boxer, a well-trained pooch and a treat to look after. I don’t recommend stopping on the freeway, a perilous and foolish stunt.
Basically, I’m a dog lover. Large or small. Although I’ve been bitten by a few, including my own, I don’t harbor what my dear friend Earlene Luke calls “gut-fear.”
In my early twenties, as soon as I rented a house, I bought a Borzoi, also known as a Russian wolfhound. What fun I had with my beautiful Stella, soon to become an American/Canadian champion. Borzois are sight hounds, relying on their vision to target their prey. Unlike horses and most dogs, they use a double-suspension gallop. They can run 30 miles-per-hour, no sweat, and have been clocked up to fifty, meaning they can catch practically any animal they pursue. But in the house she was calm, peaceful and loving. I’ve owned three adult borzois at a time and could walk them on leash together, thanks to obedience training.
I highly recommend obedience school, where I met respected judge and handler, Earlene Luke, famous for her role as the judge in the hilarious movie Best in Show. She instructed the actors how to handle the dogs, as she’d taught me.
Most dogs want to please, but can easily train their owners into putting up with bad behavior. Having your dog come when called is the most important command, but the hardest to teach, one the pooch won’t obey until it follows all other commands. More Earlene Luke wisdom.
I later switched to smaller breeds more suitable for city life: a Cairn terrier and then a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Both were American/Canadian champions, and dearly beloved pets. When asked, I can’t pick my favorite because I loved each dog so much. Sigh.
When I was in grade school, my mother took my sister and me to horseback riding lessons (English saddle) and I went to summer camp where I was assigned to ride a Tennessee Walker, a rescue-horse that needed a petite rider. Later, horseback riding was my sport in college. Fortunately I already knew how to ride, because the instructor had us jumping small hurdles the first lesson. On my bucket list is to drive an Amish horse and buggy.
Are you a dog person or do you adore cats? Felines love me. A friend told me her shy cat that had never come to a stranger, sashayed right over to me. My friend said I have good cat etiquette. I’ve called myself a cat magnet, because when walking they cross the street to greet me.
Have you owned a favorite pet? Are you a cat person or a dog fancier? Would you consider driving a horse and buggy?
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