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PANDEMIC COMPANIONS

We’ve all heard the question:  If you were stuck on a deserted island, who or what would you like to have with you? I don’t think any of us ever imagined what March of 2020 would bring. And, quite frankly, some people may have wished they had someone or something different with them for all the hours of sheltering in place. In most cases, it takes a toll on a relationship to be together 24/7 for a few months.  


We have the perfect pet for sheltering in place. She is a fairly mild-mannered shih tzu, and she is content to be as active or inactive as we choose to be. Plus, she has just turned 13, so she is even more content to join us on the couch or recliner or pretty much anywhere for some rest and relaxation.


Have you thought about the best pet to join you in quarantine? Thinking back to my childhood, my parents’ preference was not to own a dog or cat. However, from my mother teaching kindergarten and our parents listening to complaints from my sister and me, they made sure we experienced a varied, and a bit unusual, sampling of pet ownership. We had our share of parakeets - while most didn’t last very long, our favorite was Jerry. He was tame and would sit on our fingers and roam the house - mostly on foot because he couldn’t fly for any distance.  One day while my mother was cooking, Jerry started to climb up the inside of her robe.  Her first thought was a mouse or a roach or something awful enough to make her scream loudly and throw the robe across the room with Jerry hanging on for dear life. From that point on, Jerry never crossed the threshold into the kitchen again. He would have certainly kept the family entertained during quarantine.  


Then, there was the horned toad my friend brought me from Texas.  I named her/him Gina Lollobrigida just because I liked the sound of that name.  I loved that little toad even though she/he had a face only a mother could love.  So, when our family took off for Canada, I insisted Gina come along, and that I would take care of her/him.  And I did.  I kept her/him in a little blue, plastic, box-style purse and fed it lettuce and flies and things.  When we crossed the border, Gina was perfectly hidden and quiet.  All the way to Canada and back and then we stopped to take a quick break close to home (back in the Georgia heat) and I left poor Gina in the car.  Sadly, she didn’t make it, even though they are equipped for a desert-type environment.  Maybe it was the humidity.  Seriously, though, I was brokenhearted and couldn’t be consoled for weeks because of the guilt and missing my little friend.  Probably not a good choice for a quarantine animal.


I mentioned that our mother taught kindergarten.  She made a point each year of getting a few baby chickens to help the class understand about caring for animals, and we were able to keep them at our house - another opportunity to experience pet ownership, a little dose at a time.  The problem was that most of these adorable baby chicks grew up to be roosters.  Then, they were harder to care for and the neighbors would complain about being woken up at the crack of dawn.  We were able to give them away to folks living on a farm most of the time - but, there was this special rooster that really stole our hearts.  I don’t know what made this one special - I think it was because he let me hold and pet him.  So, with another family vacation on the horizon, we brought our buddy rooster along to leave with my grandmother to take care of as we ventured north.  About halfway there, we stopped for a break at McDonald’s to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat.  Don’t get ahead of yourself...it was cool weather and we didn’t let our rooster suffer the same fate as the horned toad.  But, when we returned, a crowd had formed around the car peering through the windows as our rooster was perched on the seat crowing his little heart out.  We cried for days when we had to give that rooster away.  But, again, not a good quarantine choice.


By this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “it would’ve been easier to get a cat or dog!”  My parents surely considered that as well.  But I have interesting stories and experiences to share and I learned to love God’s creatures, big or small or with scary faces.  And we have definitely been blessed with this loving, adaptable, and devoted pal during the pandemic of 2020.




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