Monday, September 15, 2014

The Pets I Loved - Book of Me

about 1953
My first one-on-one experience with animals was probably when I was about three and my parents took us to see newly-born Boxer puppies.  Not long after that a little female came to live with us.  My parents, or perhaps my brother or sister, gave her the name Lady. 

I don't remember much of her puppyhood but she grew to be a good friend and companion by the time she reached adulthood.  My father carefully trained her to know the perimeter of our yard, where to "do her business," to walk gently on a leash, and to obey some basic commands.

Our neighborhood was relatively small and there was little traffic on the side streets.  Lady was given free rein to move about our unfenced yard as she pleased.  My parents let her out in the morning while they ate breakfast and when she was ready to come back in she barked at the door.  On rainy or snowy days my mom insisted that she sit on a rug or newspaper just inside the back door until her feet were dry.

Occasionally Lady came back inside after breakfast with breath smelling as if she'd been eating garlic.  Mom didn't cook with garlic and Lady had no access to local garbage cans, most of which had secured lids.  No one could figure out where she might have eaten garlic.  A few weeks later my father was talking to one of our relatives who lived near the opposite end of our street.  He told my dad that he sure enjoyed Lady's morning visits.  He invited her in and she was a very well-behaved visitor.  Of course my father was surprised because he hadn't realized Lady had wandered from the yard.  Further discussion revealed that Lady stopped by the homes of several other families each morning, too, and Dad discovered that last night's dinner at these different homes was incentive for her morning excursions. 

Lady was a gentle dog but she was also a good watch dog.  I remember once being in the back yard with my mom while she was hanging laundry.  There were two lines of sheets blocking the view to the driveway and front yard plus another line or two of clothes waving in the wind.  Suddenly Lady barked and charged.  I was alarmed but my mom quickly went through the rows of sheets to find that a salesman had come into the yard unannounced.  Lady warned but did not bite.

about 1954
She had an easy-going, sweet temperament and was fun to play with.  We sometimes played tug with a rope, chased each other around the yard, or walked to the post office together.  She obviously liked to investigate, though I don't know what she was hoping to find in the clothespin basket, at right.

In later years we would sometimes find Lady lying in front of the back porch door with the cat curled up between her legs.  If we awoke her and called her attention to the situation, she would often act very embarrassed.

Lady lived to be about 18.  My father was particularly heartbroken at her loss but, of course, the rest of us had sorrowful hearts, too. 

There were also a series of cats in our family, some of which I dressed in doll clothes and pushed around in a baby buggy.  How my 4- or 5-year-old self managed to put clothes on a cat I'll never know.  Maybe they were just passive cats.

Put, 1967
The cat I most remember is Put.  My brother-in-law worked at a farm and offered to catch one of the farm kittens for me.  At the barn doors I watched the kittens for a few minutes.  All of them were wild and watchful, afraid of us.  When I saw the tiny, grey, wooly one I knew she (or he) was the one I wanted.  She was elusive and fast but my brother-in-law was persistent and faster.  When he finally handed her to me she announced, with a hiss and a scratch, that she wanted nothing to do with me.  I patiently taught her that she had no reason to fear me and that I would provide her with delicious food.  It didn't take long to tame her.  She became a sweet friend. 

There were other animals in my childhood -- cows on my uncle's farm; my grandmother's dogs; my cousin's bird; a friend's pony -- but none were as dear to me as Lady and Put.

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This is another post in The Book of Me series, created by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest.  (See list at


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. What a lovely post! I love the photo of Lady with the cat-- priceless!

    1. Thank you, Brenna. We were surprised when Lady stayed where she was long enough for us to get a camera and take a photo of her with the cat.

  2. What a funny little insight into Lady's life, to learn she made the rounds to all the neighbors' homes. She must have been a good dog to be so welcome. Put looks very much like Smokey, a neighbor's cat that liked our house better. Smokey adopted us but she left for good after our first baby came along.

    1. Hi, Wendy. Lady really was very well-mannered -- energetic outside but calm inside. I'm surprised Smokey didn't try to snuggle up to your baby. Cats usually like the warmth.

  3. Such fun memories of your sweet pets Nancy. If we had been neighbors, we could have dressed our cats together---I too dressed up my cats. I think I did it from the time they were very small kittens, so I think they just thought it came with the territory. Pets can teach us so much about love and loyalty.

    1. Oh, dear, Michelle -- those poor kitties if there had been two of us! My memory tells me that part of the joy of dolls and cats was changing their outfits on a too-frequent basis. The cats' clothes would have been in constant rotation. lol

  4. Ah, Nancy, you write so well. I really enjoyed this post.


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