We had a Beagle for a short time while I was young. It was only for a short time because he never, never stopped barking and we were in the middle of town and neighbors were complaining. So we had to give him away to one of the local farmers where he wouldn't get the pound called on him. Even though we hadn't had him long, it broke my heart and my brother's, and we both turned our attention to the cats we had instead. Cats are quiet. They keep the mice away. They didn't annoy the neighbors.
I had no intention of having a dog again. For years, I had goldfish (they're also quiet) and in times of stress I loved to sit in front of the tank and watch them. One had a crooked tail and he was my favorite. This fish would actually follow me If I walked past anywhere nearby. Fish don't like to be played with, though, as my three-year-old found out when he escaped my notice and pulled a couple out of the tank. Apparently when they stopped playing (moving) he stuck them under a pillow on the window seat. That was lovely to find. Still, I bought more and I've had them continuously until this last move. I've yet to set up my fish tank. But I will.
In the meantime, my daughter and husband talked me into getting a puppy. She wanted the companionship and he wanted one big enough to go running with and we ended up adopting one neighbors were trying to give away, a fuzzy precious little lab-chow mix. I picked him out of the three available. He attached immediately to my daughter. It's funny how they choose their main owner/pal. Never mind that my husband and I paid a big emergency vet visit fee about four days after we got him because he had heartworms. We saved him, though. The rest of the puppies and the mother were lost to them. Heartworm preventative is a staple at our house now.
He turned out to be the most charming dog, although he didn't like running far, being short and stocky and with tons of long golden hair that made him hot too fast. He moved with us several times and never had any trouble being wherever we were. He was quiet unless he felt a threat, walked nicely alongside us, traveled well, and gave the kids such a wonderful friend. Well, my son had to grow into liking him since he was little when we adopted DJ and the puppy liked to chase after and nip at his ankles!
After this last move, which is our last move after 20 military years, we were finally able to get DJ a friend, adopting a twelve week old yellow lab to keep him amused when we weren't with him. We have the big fenced yard with nice shelter and Roxie drove him crazy, I think, following him around and jumping at him. But he clearly enjoyed her company, watching whenever she was out playing in the yard and he was sitting keeping reign. He was purely in charge and she accepted that. It turns out we named her aptly since she loves to play fetch but she won't fetch sticks. She fetches only rocks.
We lost our DJ in November due to liver failure. He was nearly ten years old which was too soon but I suppose the heartworms may have weakened him. It was crushing to my daughter who was so thoroughly attached to him. It was hard on all of us. Including Roxie.
Miss Roxie went to full-time whining and looking so lost that I knew we had to remedy that even if it was a bit too soon for my daughter to want to think about getting another dog. DJ was hers. Roxie is very much my son's since she attached to him. I told her this one would be mine, not a replacement, but a friend for Roxie.
So we went and saved this little pure black 18 month old lab mix who had been rescued from being starved to the extent he'd lost most of his hair. He was about to be put down because no one wanted him. I can't imagine why. We think he's part terrier although it's a guess, and he is the sweetest thing. I named him Axel after the band that we played as our first wedding dance, Axe. Since we've had him, he's gained weight to the healthy limit, he's happy to let Roxie be in charge, and although he's wary, was terrified of the snowball fight over the winter and cringes if you pick up a stick to throw it, he's so loving and gentle. He even wraps around your legs if you're standing and cuddles as close as he can to being in your lap if you're sitting, rather like a cat! Of course, he has his annoying moments, such as barking at birds and bunnies and the neighbor he knows well and anything else that moves (other than his family) and usually at 3:00 in the morning. But he's mine. And I can't imagine having not wanted a dog, although my brother stays faithful to cats and ferrets. Ferrets? I don't get it, but I don't need to get it as long as he does.
There are a myriad of other animals in my world. Just now, I saw three deer running in the yard across the road and I know they do it often (part of what sets my dogs barking, I'm sure, although they can't get to them). I'm constantly telling the dogs to stop barking at the bunnies that are always flitting about my front yard. The bunnies don't seem to pay much attention to them. And my bird feeders just outside my den attract several species: cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, goldfinches, grosbeaks, red-headed woodpeckers, and others I can't name. There's also my beloved hummingbirds that like to buzz my head when I'm gardening, and the chipmunks I now have hiding under my hostas. Make the environment favorable to little creatures, and they will come.
I like blue jays, although they're raucous and rather aggressive, and have a short story series loosely related to them. Axel stars in my newest short story, a little romantic comedy inspired by a Classic Romance Revival list conversation and a contest prompt. It's listed here as a free read if you'd like to check it out: Beagle and Sneakers. His name has been changed slightly and it's purely fictional but based on my adoptee.
My next novel features a rescued dog and the effect she has on a girl who was also rescued. It's funny how these things work out. I wrote the part of the dog before we adopted Axel, naming her after a friend's beloved and recently lost dog, but the situation turned out to be similar.
I'm enjoying this animal theme week and hope all of you readers are, also. There's something about people who love and care for animals. I think it adds an extra, rounded dimension to them. How about you? Do you enjoy reading animals in fiction? Does it make you appreciate the characters who take care of them more than you would otherwise?
Thank you for reading. You can find me at my website: http://www.lkhunsaker.com and read more of my ramblings on my blog: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com . Of course, I'll also be here from time to time.