Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lucky Dog

Did you know that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory? I've never been sure I agreed, but last night something triggered my memories and made me have a powwow to explain to Sadie why she's one lucky dog.

I have had bad, bad luck with animal friends.

We had some stray cats adopt us when I was but a wee babe, and they were in and out of our lives. My first personal pet came in third grade living in Knoxville: An orange and white spotted fish named Bubbles. About 4 days after Bubbles came to join my happy little life, I decided he needed a friend. Immediately I found Tabasco, a much smaller but same-hued gilled pal. Tragedy struck two shorts days later, when having been sent to my room for lying to my parents I found Bubbles practicing a handstand on the top of his water. Bereft with grief, poor Tabasco followed suit the next day.

Nursing my own deep, dark depression Daddy and Little decided that I could have a beta fish (the unkillable creature... next to cockroaches, that is). Angel came to live with us, and I couldn't have been happier, although I was still cautious and built a wall between the two of us... afraid of being hurt by too much emotional attachment. Slowly we bonded, and Angel made the trek from Knoxville to Charlotte strapped in tight to our Ford Windstar. The trip was too much for the old girl, though, and six months after welcoming the stalwart beta, she left us to become a real angel in the giant fishbowl in the sky.

We decided it might be better to try something a little more resilient, so a furry creature was brought into the picture. My brother had a guinea pig named Critter, and I knew I needed one too. Santa heard my pleas and left Emmitt for me under the Christmas tree. I oohed and aahed. Then cried when he bit me and wouldn't let go of my finger. That was the beginning of our tumultuous relationship, and despite my offerings of alfalfa, carrots, corn, lettuce and other yummy treats, he never quite warmed up to me.

I always filled his habitat with delightfully smelling cedar shavings, which happened to be the HOA's mulch of choice this year. As I wheeled my CRV into its spot yesterday, my nose was accosted with the fresh scent of shaved cedar blanketing each flower bed. Memories of Emmitt's little blonde body (then his cold, stiff one that I touched post-mortem) flooded my mind. Poor Emmitt didn't last much longer than the sealife. About a year and a half later, he laid buried in a shoebox (Sketchers... It's the S) in my backyard.

I took a break from killing domestic animals until summer 2008 when Sadie came to join me in the Polka Dot Palace. She has endured weeks of abandonment in a field, lice, flea infestation, kennel cough, pneumonia, skin infections and several nights in the puppy hospital. As she sleeps here beside me tonight, I know I've found the perfect snuggle body. One I don't think even I can manage to take down. Lucky girl.


Southern Champagne Wishes said...

What a sweet story about Sadie! She's so lucky to have found you!

Rachel H. said...

So sweet! I love my dog too, and I love how he snuggles up next to me while we watch TV at night! :)

Erin said...

You're a great writer! I love this story!

sarah said...

It's so true about smells taking you back!

I think you just needed to find the right pet for you before it worked out!

Kell said...

my first fish committed suicide, too! i was so depressed that my mom had to come pick me up from school in the 1st grade because i told the nurse i was depressed!!!


Black Labs and Lilly said...

Sadie is a lucky, lucky girl! I can relate to the fish story, the hole in my heart has never quite healed since "Swimmy" passed away!

Piper Jacquelyn said...

Aw, I want a pet. I've had my fair share of betas & they always succumbed in a few weeks after purchase. I can't keep a plant alive, let alone an animal. Sadface! Maybe someday!

Heidi said...

And there is nothing better than coming home to your dogs jumping up and down and ready to cover your face in dog kisses! Love your blog btw.