Friday, April 5, 2013

110 toes–pets

This little family that Dave and I have (the 71toes one) hasn’t had much luck with pets. 

I mean, we’ve had a couple.  But they just haven’t stuck around long. 

Our first real pet was Gabby the hamster who sadly passed away the second day she came to live with us after an unfortunate encounter with Max’s friend’s foot (more about that and the funeral here). 

Yeah, that was sad.

We replaced her with Lily-the-Gabby-look-alike but sadly she somehow bit the dust too (here).

We were very tempted to take this stray dog home with us from a trip to Mexico once:2008-10-17Rocky Point0272I know that sounds crazy-nutty but it was honestly the nicest dog on the planet and we still think about it.

We’ve had random stray cats have babies in our back yard:2008-03-22 Eriksons 0322

And lots of goldfish have come and gone over the years (funny one here). 

We’ve had plenty of begging for a dog of our own:2010-03-1866(to see those heartfelt reasons Elle wrote up so eloquently a few years back click here)

But since even after that we still don’t have a dog, maybe we just need to face the fact that we just aren’t really pet people. 

Which is interesting coming from Dave and my families who always seemed to have pets. 

I don’t know a whole bunch about the pets Dave grew up with but boy, we had some wing-dinger pets in our family.  From beloved dogs like Barney who was gone before I could even remember him:2009-07-18 untitled 35260(That’s my sister Saren with him.)

I think this is Barney with us when we were little:2013-04-05 misc 72549

To this cat who I’m pretty sure was named “Meow-Meow” who seems to always be in front and center of baby pictures.2013-04-05 misc 72546

See what I mean?2013-04-05 misc 72547I really think my parents were just so laid back they just rolled with whatever pets came their way.

We had so many pets I don’t even remember why or how or who in the beginning.

I think this dog was named “Nutch” and we had him when we lived in England:2013-04-05 misc 72551I know, great positioning going on there, right?

I vaguely remember one of our dogs having puppies at our neighbor’s house in Virginia and boy how we loved those puppies:kids and puppiesWe got to keep one of them and we adored it.  It accompanied us to the bus stop each morning.  One day as we sat at the bus stop it got run over by a car right in front of us.  We were devastated.  I remember turning around in slow motion and yelling and screaming with my brother and sister all the way back home to tell our parents.

We traveled around in a motor home one summer.  Our current dog at the time had puppies in the shower.  Crazy business I tell you.

I think at some point in the game, my parents made a contentious decision that it would be a good lesson in responsibility to have us each have our own pet to take care of.

We had a whole slew of gerbils who belonged mostly to my brother.  He always named them things that described them like “Brownie” and “Blackie” and “Fasty." 

Another brother had a turtle who lived in one of the two sinks in the bathroom for years.  (And I really don’t think I’m exaggerating on that.)  It was just so darn easy to change that water that way.

One brother had a snake (a little one) who somehow escaped in our house and was never found again.  There was some kind of black stuff on one of our heat vents and in my mind I figured that mark was left by that snake slithering through there and that it must be living happily in our walls.

My older sister probably had the pet who was around the longest: a huge, fluffy cat named Geneva who was true to cat form and didn’t pay much attention to anybody except for Saren.  When that cat died we had the funeral at Bear Lake.  I remember it so incredibly well because of my sister Charity’s very serious and breathy rendition of “If I Knew Your Name, Would I See You in Heaven” where we all tried to be respectful while big tears plopped down her cheeks as she sang, but the gravity of her seriousness made it almost painful to stifle our laughs.

My little sister Saydi had a cat named Windy.  She died one summer at Bear Lake and is buried there as well.s_9acqy2vl30182

My littlest sister Charity had a cat named Lahaina who was completely crazy.  Maybe that one was the one she sang at the funeral for??

My dog, of course, was my very most favorite pet we ever had.

I remember vividly the week we got her.  Mr. Waldhouse, the 4th grade teacher at Indian Hills Elementary school asked all the 4th graders if they knew of a home for this dog he had found.  My sister Saren was in his class.  She came home and asked my parents if she could bring that dog home.  Being the pet lovers they were, they quickly agreed. 

So I have no idea how this dog became “mine.”  Maybe because Saren already had Geneva the cat.  But I remember proudly walking her home with Saren that first day she became ours.  I don’t remember how in the world we came up with her first name “Caine,” (certainly no relation to the Biblical Cain), but I sure remember deciding “White-Socks” would be her middle name.  I mean, her fur made it look like she was wearing white socks, you know, so how creative can you get on that one?  :)

She was such a great, loyal dog and she slept with me every night. 

I don’t know how long we had her but it was a LONG time.

And then one day, she was just gone.  It’s still a mystery as to whether she got lost, got hit by a car, who knows.  But she left a giant hole in my kid-heart and I sure missed her. 

Some pets came and went.  But Able (the dog who came along after Caine and another dog named Essie who got hit by a car), stuck around for a long, long, long time.  She made it in pretty much every family picture: family…and was so soft and gentle that she became an immediate favorite with the grandkids who were around by then.  bear lake & oxnard 008

Hmmmm…maybe we need to re-think the pet thing in our 71 toes family…


  1. i sang for geneva. lahaina was just straight-up crazy. possessed. seriously, mentally ill from the trauma she experienced before we picked her up at the humane society.
    i mean really, "will it be the same, when i see {geneva} in heaven"??
    love you!

  2. Teaching responsibility at the expense of the animal isn't a positive.

  3. I loved reading your post because I have been thinking the same thing recently. I don't think I'm ready for a puppy yet (there's just something about barking dogs and sleeping babies or toddlers that doesn't mix well for me), but my boys would be over the moon about a hamster or guinea pig to call their own.... to break us in to the whole pet thing. :-)

  4. I fought off having a pet for years because I was too busy juggling babies to worry about another one. But when I started freaking out about my youngest going off to Kindergarten last year, my sweet husband encouraged me to get a puppy. I found a sweet little Pugga-Shihtzu and man oh man I would never go back! He's become such a wonderful part of our family!

    I vote you take the leap. :)

  5. I consider myself a pretty "laid-back" kinda mom, but when I hear these stories it inspires me to relax a little. Your mom is a saint! Turtles in the sink? My son would be in heaven!

  6. An indoor/outdoor Calico cat is the best pet. They play, they are lovey-dovey just enough not to bug you, they are independent enough to make them easy, and they have the funniest personalities when they get frisky. Leave the litterbox in the garage because they are smart enough to go to the door. Calico cats are the best!

  7. P.S. - Treat a Calico cat as part of the family, and they will stick around for years!

  8. We have cats and a dog. Biggest problem is we travel A LOT and the dog is such a headache when we can't take her to find someone to pet sit. Cats are easy just some extra food and water...DONE.
    It does teach my kiddos responsibility and how animals love you TRULY love you just because you are there. Wouldn't miss that experience for anything in the world.

    1. Just curious, if you left enough food & water for your cats while you're away - what happens if they eat & drink it all at once?

      I can imagine how hard it must be to find someone to look after your dog.

      Another thing I'm curious about - Do people in the US take their dogs for walks every day? It's just that when I was staying in Utah the people I stayed with never took their dogs out for walks on a lead & just let them run around & go to the loo in the garden.

    2. * I wasn't meaning you personally Mom of 6 about not walking your dog, I just mean in general.

  9. Oh man, this is fun to see! I just found a picture a minute ago while I was going through family history of Josh with Lahaina. I'll send it on, just for the record!

    Love having all this in one spot!

  10. Oh man this is cute!! I came from a family of 11 kids and this reminds me so much of the pets that came in and out of our house! i'm pretty sure our parents had the same idea about pet ownership and responsibility...What were they thinking!! I have 7 kiddos of my own and when the youngest was just one we bought the cutest little beagle you ever did see! She is almost 8 years old and I can't imagine our family without her. If you do dive into getting a pet, I have one little piece of advice... No matter what anyone tells you that pet will be yours. As hard as I try to give my kids the responsibility, it ultimately falls on me. If you think you're up for that then go for it!!!

  11. I think pets are great for kids! Not for the purpose of teaching responsibility, but for the purpose of teaching them how to love. Having pets is very emotionally healthy (and physically healthy too! Kids with pets tend to have less allergies and asthma). We have 3 small children and lots of pets. I love the dynamic in our household!

    With that said - if you are not a pet person, don't force yourself into it. Nothing is worse than people who get a pet only to give it away a few months later. It's a commitment for the lifetime of that animal. Period!

  12. Yes, do it! What a gift they are.

  13. Maybe the snake came from a chicken egg and lived in your pipes? Lucky that you never saw it again!

    I have a suggestion for another name: Something with Neverland, because you will always be a kid in your memories about your childhood.

  14. Kids get so much out of having a pet!

    You *can* use pets to teach responsibility while caring for the animal properly... as long as you (Mum)are the one taking the real responsibility and you keep a close eye on things / nag endlessly to make 100% sure that feeding and cleaning out actually happens.

    We had ratties and the kids and their friends all adored them, they are such lovely little characters! Also, very practically, they only live a couple of years so when your kids go to college (or you develop an allergy to them as 3 of our family did) it's not so much of a problem. When our last rattie died I said sorry, no more - it would have been much harder if we'd had a cat that lived 15 years.

    If you have allergies in the family I'd recommend petsitting an animal for a couple of weeks to see how you all hold up. It's not foolproof - for some odd reason 2 of our family developed an allergy after we'd had rats for a couple of years - but I've heard so many sad stories of people who've had to give a pet away after a few weeks because the kids became too ill.

  15. In the US if you have a house with a backyard or dog run most dogs use a little door to exit the house when needed or desired and come back in when they are done. Or the owner will let them into the yard and back in the house. If you live where there is no yard you walk them. Some people walk them with a yard, good exercise for both human and animal.

    Most get a pet sitter, friend or hired person when on vacation. Or put in an animal boarding place. Exactly how would the animal know to save food left meant to be left out for days? Who would eat food left out for days? Is it fair to the animal to be in a family with a lot of travel and boarding times?

  16. I definitely vote for a dog. But then I'm partial. Just get a dog and you'll love it!

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  18. Im so fascinated by your 110 toes family! Such unique character building opportunities.

  19. I have five little ones at home between 7 and 1...and we got a puppy this past February. The Lord had been giving me an answer to prayer for months that my kids needed a dog and i just wasn't ready to listen AND obey. It has been the BEST decision, and this is for two parents who do NOT love animals. Two of my kids are clearly "animal" people and that dog has fulfilled something for them emotionally i don't think i ever could!

  20. we have four children all under the age of seven. we just recently got a puppy. i have a couple of thoughts on the whole matter. 1) although we will not be getting rid of this dog i wish we would have waited until my kids were older. yes, it is my responsibility but if you have older kids that you can ask to walk, feed and pick up the dog messes then that will help overall. my kids are just too young right now. 2) perhaps think about getting an older dog that is already trained. 3) make sure you have talked this over with your husband many times-not the kids-because again this is you and your husbands responsibility not the kids-no matter how much thay say they want one.
    if i would have a chance to do it over i would say no to the dog. stand firm with your first thought/reaction. i feel like i gave in because i thought it would be wonderful for the kids. but again-it's not the kids's yours! if you don't love the dog and enjoy having a dog you will always resent the dog. just my advice but i'm being very honest. good luck!

  21. We are totally anti-pet. Not sure why because we both had them growing up. But our only daughter has been obsessed with them since the day she was born. She knew all the neighborhood dogs by name and house two days after we moved in. But we really can't do a dog. We've done fish and lizards and I've hated every second.

    Long story short. We surprised the kids with a white rabbit for Easter this year. My daughter (almost 7) broke down and started sobbing. She couldn't even walk over to see it she was so overcome with shock. She just kept repeating through her sobs "you said we could never have a pet". Parenting moment I will never, ever forget. My husband and I couldn't stop crying either. has been great. And I kind of love it. We went with a pure bred boy so he won't get big and has nice parents... and he lets my daughter hold him for hours at a time (just what she wanted). We went out of town for three days for spring break and just left him lots of water and food and we were good. That was my issue with a do you go out of town. He lives in my parents old rabbit hutch out on our covered basement patio and we let him run around out there a few times a day with kids supervising the rock stairs so he doesn't escape.

    So anyway......maybe a rabbit is the way to go. It worked for us.

  22. If you need to convince Dave, I have pictures of when we had the kids take off their blindfolds. Heart breaker. I don't think I have you invited to my blog anymore and couldn't find your email.... but I posted a few pictures on instagram (marciealcorn)

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  24. Adopt a mutt puppy from the shelter! Having a dog brings so much joy and love into your home. They are amazing animals who love unconditionally. We've had ours for 4 years and can't imagine life without her.

  25. The snake was mine and actually was found, by Mom, alive and well, coming out of the vent in her bathroom.

    You forgot about Brumby, the cockatiel that woke us up every morning that we named after the wild horses from "The Man From Snowy River," that Geneva killed while we were eating dinner one day.

    Man we had a lot of pets!

  26. One brother had a snake (a little one) who somehow escaped in our house and was never found again. There was some kind of black stuff on one of our heat vents and in my mind I figured that mark was left by that snake slithering through there and that it must be living happily in our walls.
    dog walking


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