Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dad, can we keep him??

My husband often tells of the pets he had as a boy, and let me tell you, he had some pets. In addition to the typical ones, he and his brother would make pets of whatever they found when they went camping. At one time, they had a rabbit, three chipmunks, and a turtle all in the same cage at home. In the morning, they'd go to feed them, and the rabbit would be sitting on top of the turtle, with the chipmunks nestled on top of it, tucked into its fur. (I know, it seems unbelievable, but I did confirm these stories with his mom and dad.) His dad always encouraged the boys to have pets; he felt it taught them responsibility. That was the argument he gave his wife when intervening on the boys' behalf. (After a while, she knew that protesting was futile.)

And then there was the pet squirrel. As Mark tells it, he was 16, driving home from his job as a lifeguard when he saw a baby squirrel in the middle of the road. "I got out of my truck and walked up to him, and he ran straight up my leg and all the way up to my shoulder. So I took him home." The squirrel was christened, "Igor," fed with an eyedropper, and soon became very attached to Mark. After school, he would take Igor with him on his bike back to the school. Kids liked Igor because, if kids were standing close, he'd jump from shoulder to shoulder. At home, Mark and his brother would give Igor nuts, and he'd bury them in Mark's mom's shag carpeting.

There is a "famous" story of how one night after dinner, the 4444 family was sitting around the table. Igor was hopping from shoulder to shoulder, stealing the show, when the telephone rang, startling the little guy so much that he leaped up into the air and (I'm not kidding here) landed in the bowl of spaghetti sauce. The story doesn't end there; for he then leaped onto Mark's white painter-pants and launched himself onto the bottom of his mom's white sheer curtains, running all the way to the top. Need I paint a picture? Mark grabbed him and held him under the kitchen faucett to rinse him off and found that Igor liked it. After that, Mark says, they gave him showers all the time, because he really loved it. Even Mark's mom smiles about this story, but I'm sure she didn't smile that night.

I've got a photo for you here of Mark and his brother Bob with their pet raccoon, Critter and rabbit, Pinky. There are stories about Critter, too, like how he loved to get into the fridge and steal eggs when they let him inside. Even though they were normally pretty clean pets (Mark kept them bathed and healthy), his mom could never appreciate having a squirel or racoon in the house. I can't imagine why....


  1. I can relate to Mr 4444! I've had a Prairie Dog, Pot Bellied Pig, a few dozen species of reptiles, assorted birds, and of course the ever present cats and dogs throughout the years.

    As of late, we have toned down quite a bit, and now have only 1 Bearded Dragon, 2 dogs, and 3 cats (along w/ 6 baby kitties presently).

    I am a sucker when it comes to animals. Often I like them more than people. Not sure what that says about me as a human in general, but I'll admit it anyway!


  2. We had cats growing up and that was fine because there's nothing worse, IMO, than dog crap. At least cats bury it.

    Before we got married, my hubby, who always had reptiles, decided to return to his roots and bought two Viet Namese box turtles, two water dragons, and a North American box turtle..... who were all housed in my apartment. It was fine until the N.A. box turtle caught a cold and I spent $120.00 getting him checked by a vet; then their crickets, one of their food sources, would escape and chirp all night throughout the place (I could never find them). Finally, every time I cleaned the water for the turtles, they'd immediately climb back in and crap their brains out.

    I made him get rid of them.

    He tried to get my younger son into leopard geckos -- which my son actually enjoyed until we couldn't find homes for all the offspring that began to populate his room.


  3. We have birds that came to us from people who didn't want them anymore. They chatter around and let everyone know that they are still alive and doing well.

    I don't have a pet squirrel, but one of my neighbors has one living in his attic. The squirrel came into my yard one day, so I hung an ear of corn on the fence as a tribute to stay away. It's worked so far, but when Spring comes, should we worry about babies and then a new family looking for a fresh attic in which to live?

  4. We were talking about adoption tonight with friends we had over for dinner. She said she didn't understand why anyone would think you could love an adopted baby any less than one you gave birth to. Mr. 4444 said, "Right. Some people love their dogs more than anything, and they didn't give birth to THEM. Think it was the Corona responsible for this gem of wisdom? I don't; I think some people actually do love their pets as much as a person (or more!)

    MM-Baby geckos?? Awwwww; I'll bet they were adorable. You might have had a tv commercial star in one of those batches of babies!

    Careful, Skeeter; your plan could backfire!

  5. Cute!

    But I wouldn't have a raccoon for a pet! :-)

  6. I'm an animal lover right along with you...


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