Memorial Day: Remembering the Pets That Enriched Our Lives

This Memorial Day I will not only think of our fallen heros but also others who have filled my life. I will take time to think about my dad and all of the life skills he showed me. I will remember warm, summer nights watching episodes of “Gunsmoke” with my grandparents. I will remember my father-in-law’s fantastic BBQ hamburgers. But I will also remember those pets that have enriched our lives over the last 44 years since our marriage in 1969.

Pets that have enriched our lives

Hamelot, the hamster, was our first fur child. It was a fast two years (the average lifespan). Next was Mohandis K. or Mo, for short. He was the highest energy miniature poodle around. He would fetch balls for hours, non-stop. After his pelvis was fractured by a car, fetching wasn’t quite the same but he still had his zest. Unfortunately, he was one of the first victims of parvovirus before the vaccine was available.

Damon, the too friendly Oakland Petting Zoo German Shepard watch dog, joined us when the zoo was sold. The zoo was broken into several times under his watch. Like Mo he loved to fetch and would bring a volley ball to the burglars so they could play with him as they looted the office trailer. Rusty, the red Dobie, was rescued off the Oakland streets and we had him only a short time before we found him a good home. About that time, Gata, our first cat wandered into our lives. I was very allergic to cats but living with this little Siamese was like getting allergy shots. I am still allergic to cats but not as severely as before. She was an early victim of feline leukemia.

I brought Isis, the ditzy black lab, home after she showed up on the loading dock of central services at the vet school, where I worked during the summer break from school. Damon tolerated her but her idea of fetch was to interfere with his quest for the Frisbee. I don’t think she ever returned one Frisbee. Damon loved to run, even near the end when his hip dysplasia became too severe that he could no longer walk. Isis spent her last years on a farm near Modesto. She never got smarter. My veterinary friend who provided her with a large farm that fit her energy level when I re-located for work said she had a habit of eating green walnut skins, which are poisonous. They didn’t seem to affect her.

Archie, or Archibald Magilicutty, was brought into my cat hospital with a fractured leg. He was a sweet stray being fed by four different neighborhood households. I fixed his leg and he became the hospital cat. He greeted everybody and enjoyed their laps. At night, alone in the hospital, he also enjoyed opening bags of cat food and helping himself. He grew to a ripe 30lbs. and eventually became a happy, fat diabetic. Unfortunately, intestinal cancer got the best of him. I buried him under a fern in our backyard that has become huge, just like Archie. In fact, I call the fern, Archie. Shadow our other cat that came with our rental house in Alta Loma was very much a loner. She hated Archie so much she wanted to be outside away from him. As a result, we lost her to coyotes.

And I will remember the other rescued kitties in our lives, Matilda, Sylvester and CK (short for Colin’s Kitty because he was found outside a hardware store when my son, Colin, and I were shopping). And who can forget Buddy, the clueless Yorkie found on a busy intersection in Alta Loma who had severe separation anxiety. Some the damage to the house has yet to be repaired. He lived to a ripe old age before we put him to sleep in a family ceremony in the backyard. He is buried near “Pockets”, Colin’s pet rat. I hope you also take time to honor the pets that have enriched your lives and hug and kiss or be kissed by the ones you still have.

“OK, Roxy, enough kisses today.”

~Dr Ken Tudor


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