I have always considered a home totally complete with pets. I grew up in a house with at one point, no lie, two dogs, two cats, a bird, and a fish. When I would describe it to people I would tell them I was living with the food chain. It was chaotic but very happy.
My first dog was a black lab named McDuff, we called him Duffy for short. He was my best friend and a saint in the dog community. Since I was so young I rely on the stories my family members have told me about my relationship with Duffy, but according to everyone he an I were thick as thieves. When I would get into trouble and end up in my room he would come with me so that I could tell him my side of things. My grandmother told me stories about how my parents could send the two of us outside to play and he would make sure I wouldn’t let me go out in the street. Once my sister was born he was a shoulder for me to lean on when I lost my only child spotlight. And when Duffy died, I was in third grade it was the same night Bill Clinton was elected to office in 1992, I was absolutely heartbroken. I felt like I had lost a brother and in some ways I had.
At this point and through most of McDuff’s life I also had a cat, which shortly after my sister was born became two cats They were Sheba, an all gray beautiful cat, and Roxanne, a feisty black cat with white paws. And while I really believe that they mostly tolerated each other I loved them. Sheba and I had a kind of rough start with all of her teeth and claws but Roxanne and I were cool because she had been de-clawed and liked to knead which made her excellent at shoulder massages. Sheba died, sadly, the summer before I started high school but she had given us at least 15 or 16 very good years so it was her time. My mom had to give Roxanne away because we were moving and Roxanne was terrified of car rides.
When McDuff died I really thought I wouldn’t love another dog again but then my aunt brought over a puppy she’d just adopted named McDougal and all that changed. McDougal (another black lab our family loves labs AND any name starting with “Mc”) was a fan of long walks and playing Frisbee, swimming (just like my sister and I who were champion athletes in the pool) and finding the sunny spots in the house. When my aunt got a divorce and had to move into a small apartment McDougal came to live with us because we had more space for him to be himself. My sister and I welcomed McDougal into our family with open arms and our house felt just that much warmer. McDougal was a constant for me, he moved up to Tennessee with us, he was there for me through many a heartbreak and triumph, he was Doo (as we called him for short). I remember when we first moved up to Tennessee and all of us went to Cades Cove one afternoon, we were walking along the trail and my mom pointed out a sign that said dogs weren’t allowed on the trail, at this point my dad just silently led McDougal off the trail and continued walking. I always said the he was the only man I’d ever need in my life and my sister said she wanted to take him to prom her senior year but he wasn’t into formal wear. He loved car rides and going to the beach when we lived down in Florida or going to the lake when we moved up to Tennessee.
I feel like I should explain to you that my mother always says “no more dogs,” or “this is our last dog,” but we all know it’s not. I’m telling you this now because she said that about McDougal and then we adopted Sassy. Sassy was actually our first dog who wasn’t a lab. She was a Brittany Spaniel who was rescued from an abusive situation. One week when my dad was out-of-town on business (as things like this tend to go) my mom brought Sassy home “just to stay with us for a few days,” while they found her a new home. Sassy was a skittish dog, she was very tentative around all of us especially McDougal. We adopted her by the end of the week. My dad came home and it was suddenly very evident that Sassy ha been abused my a man because she was absolutely terrified of my father or any man in general. That being said once they got to know each other Sassy, McDougal, and dad were inseparable. Hikes on Sundays, trips to the park, walks around the neighborhood, it was always the three of them.
A few years later as McDougal got on in age and I moved out of the house. A dog showed up at work one morning. He was huge and so sweet. I wanted to call him McLovin (not because of the movie “Superbad” but because he was so sweet and because of my family’s love for putting Mc in our dog’s names). My mom tried so hard to find him another home but he was so energetic that no one else could keep him very long. So into the Morgan house he came, and in true Morgan fashion he got a new name, McGreggor, yes my family doesn’t disappoint. McGreggor was the biggest dog I think my family had ever owned and yes for some people he was very intimidating but really he just wanted people to love on him. In fact you wouldn’t have to do anything he’d do all the work, if you put your hand off the edge of the couch he would just rub his head under it so you wouldn’t have to actually move your hand he was very considerate like that.
A few months after bringing McGreggor home, McDougal took a turn for the worse. By this point he was 16 years old and he’d lived a long life. McDougal passed away about 4 years ago this month. I was devastated because he and I had been so close. I felt horrible about it because I wasn’t there with him in his last days because I was having a personal crisis of my own and being very selfish. I remember going over to my parents’ house and laying with him on the floor, crying, and telling him how much I loved him and begging him to hang on for just a little bit longer because I needed him.
When McDougal passed it was just Sassy and McGreggor and once again my mom said “no more dogs”, and for a while she was able to keep that promise. McGreggor passed away very tragically after being hit by a car after jumping the gate at my parents’ house and Sassy died very old a very happy after a long life with my family being very well-loved.
In April of 2009 I while in the bliss of a new relationship adopted a puppy with my boyfriend. I being the book nerd I am named him Harper Scout Lee after the author and main character of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Scout, a lab/collie mix, became my world. We would go to the dog park, downtown, once I took him into work with me in my purse (he was very small at the time) because he wouldn’t stay in the car for me to go in by myself. But as puppies so often do he got bigger and my boyfriend and I had to move into a smaller apartment. It started out as only for a week but he ended up moving in with my parents who had been dog free for about a year. My dad, who really is a saint and a dog whisperer, was able to turn Scout, who was very rambunctious, into a well-behaved young gentleman. He can even shake now!!
This brings us up to today, I’m still living with the same boyfriend in the same tiny apartment but as I said before a home isn’t complete with out a furry child to call your own. Two summers ago I was house sitting for a friend whose son and daughter-in-law had just moved out leaving their cat behind. While I was staying at her house their cat just attached herself to me, she would run up to the kitchen door and jump up to the window attaching herself to the curtain when I would get there and she would snuggle right up next to me when I would go to bed at night. But she also had this feisty little streak and that’s where she earned her name Elizabeth Bennett (yes, I am a book nerd), or Lizzy for short. She does tend to have an attitude but really what cat doesn’t? But when she snuggles up next to me in bed at night it just feels like she needs me and that makes all the scratches and bites worth it.
So that’s it, something I feel very strongly about, a house is not a home without a furry baby or two. I’m sorry if I rambled, but really isn’t that the true test of something you feel strongly about?