Pictures trap moments of time on shiny pieces of paper that forever after echo as memories in your heart. Each one holds a story.
“Please can I keep her,” my youngest daughter Jenni cried, holding a ragged stray kitten. She always longed for a pet, but I had to say, “No,” because of my allergies. Truthfully!
Jenni, however, made up for her pet loss by acquiring an overabundance of stuffed creatures. Walruses, seals, elephants, giraffes, dogs, cats, bunnies, several bears and an assortment of endangered animals adorned her bed and every available bit of shelf space in her room.
Each time we went to the Mall she gazed longingly into the local pet palace and browsed among the cages while I kept a happy distance from the furry creatures and their offensive fur, hair and dander.
But when Jenni was nine, as a super surprise for Christmas, I bought her a pretty, blue parakeet complete with cage and accessories. I had been assured that feathers wouldn’t affect my eyes, nose and breathing apparatus as hair and fur did.
Jenni was so excited. “I’ll clean the cage, Mom, and put water and seed in the dishes every day. I promise!”
Of course, we all know who kept the cage clean but Petey was a cute, smart, non-allergenic pet and our pleasant life continued, almost pet-less. He became a member of the family with his cage door open most of the time so that he could visit at will. One of his favorite foods was peas, plain, cooked, then cooled, green peas. He’d stick his beak into the center and eat the soft middle, neatly dropping the hulls on the floor of his cage.
Then Jenni grew up a bit and enter the boyfriend who, without seeking parental permission, presented his little ladylove with a black Lab puppy! Now it was my turn to say, “Jen, you know we can’t have a dog.” But she argued that she would care for Tucker and I wouldn’t be bothered with his hair or dander because he was never going to come into the house. “I’ll keep him downstairs and I’ll clean the playroom. Promise.”
Now could a loving mother turn that offer down? Of course not. So Tucker moved into the basement and Jenni took over the responsibility of not only a dog but the housekeeping of the almost-finished playroom. Kind of.
I, however, retained the bird maintenance—a small chore I had to admit I loved because Petey, at the advent of clean brown paper on the bottom of his cage and fresh water and seeds in the plastic cups, was sent into a frenzy of happiness.
I had to admit that Tucker was an ideal pet and even though I had to go through the playroom to the laundry, I did so without any adverse reactions to the presence of yon dog. Once again peace and harmony reigned in our household.
That might have been the end of the story but there is more. Not long after Tucker joined the family, lo and behold, young ardent boyfriend arrived with another pet for his ladylove. This time it was a rabbit, named Bunny. How original.
“Are you out of your mind?” I cried. “The dog will eat the rabbit.”
“Not so,” the young romancer said, “I’ve brought a cage for the rabbit and we will paper train her to go in the cage.”
Huh, I thought, an unlikely event. A dog and a rabbit that have free run of the room? And a paper-trained rabbit? But, wonder of wonders, the rabbit was cage trained and Bunny and Tucker became fast friends. On occasion I would descend to the lower level of the house and watch in amazement as the rabbit and dog shared a water bowl or playfully romped around the perimeter of the cage—carefully cleaned daily by grateful daughter. I watched Jenni feed some homegrown clover or a stalk of celery to Bunny while holding Tucker in her lap.
Tucker was a typical puppy—robust in energy, cuddly when the occasion presented itself and slipping off to sleep when there wasn’t anyone, or a certain rabbit nearby, to wheedle into action.
Bunny was a funny animal; funny in the way she behaved. While maintaining her rabbit-aloofness, she was very un-rabbit-like at times. When we returned home after an outing, not only did Tucker run to meet us, circling our feet in enthusiastic welcome—so did Bunny. Perhaps she thought she, too, was a dog. But there were limits to her sharing what she considered her domain. If Tucker intruded, she quickly retreated to her cage and smugly pronounced her independence from the foolish frolics that Tucker tried to entice her to join. She had her dignity to protect.
One day I slipped downstairs to see what was happening—it was much too quiet. Mothers of teenager daughters worry about quiet. To my surprise I found Jenni and her boyfriend sitting on the couch watching television. But even more surprising was finding Tucker and Bunny lounging in a chair—together—watching television with them. Talk about strange bedfellows. It was a picture begging to be taken.