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Having And Caring For A Pet
( Originally Published 1938 )
My memories are grouped not by the cities I've lived in, but by the lives of the dogs I've owned. With dog recollections come pictures of boulevards at dusk, mist-damp morning trails, pheasant marshes, and uproarious welcomes at my home door.
JACK was an eager, companionable Springer Spaniel. ZIPPER a Wirehaired Terrier-clown.
Mick OF BARRINGTON, my Labrador Retriever "black shadow" was a comfortable fellow, wise, steady, affectionate, with a mind that sparkled.
REDLANDS DEFIANCE, champion Sealyham Terrier who answers to the name of Simon, is such an alert, merry little terrier his gay spirit is infectious.
CARNFORTH TOBIAS, my big white Clumber Spaniel, is a friendly pal; always trying to please.
Underneath my love of dogs is a basic fondness for all pets. My favorites are everyday pets that make good home companions, because this type of small domestic creature can bring royal pleasure to millions of people who otherwise have too slight a contact with Nature-town and city dwellers.
Dogs, cats, canaries, and tropical fish adapt readily to home life. Their ownership, care, and training make ideal "live" and often lively hobbies. These pets can cost little or much, whatever the buyer wishes to spend.
Caged birds sing and fluff themselves contentedly in city sunshine. Fish are at home anywhere-in water. Dogs and cats don't need a farm life for health, and they're happy just with people-wherever they find them.
If it is your habit to say: "I'd like a pet as much as anyone, but not in town; when I have room I'll buy a dog," you are just talking yourself out of one of life's certain delights. You won't move to a farm! Wherever you live you have room for a pet-NOW.
Daily homecomings are exciting reunions when a dog waits for you. Your latchkey's scrape brings a rush of feet; a whirl of sniffing starts under the door; suddenly you are inside, in a gay hubbub of dog talk.
Owning pets has given me a close interest in the "why" of animal actions. I see a dog's habits and instincts-observe a cat's wise selfishness-watch the hard reality of life in a small aquarium-and before me spreads the entertaining story of the curious effects centuries of experience have had upon my pets.
I know now that Mick, my Labrador retriever, never forgot the location of the entrance to a room. To him it wasn't a doorway, but a retreat he might need.
Mick and I went to call on friends who had just moved to a newly decorated, rather tricky apartment. One of the features was an invisible living room door. It was knobless and made from paneling that matched the walls. After an hour I rose to leave. Certain that I couldn't find my way out unassisted, my friends waited for their usual stint of innocent amusement (some callers had ended by thumping the walls). But-Mick, looking bored, was standing by the correct panel-giving the show away. Good tracker!
Choose a pet thoughtfully. Select one that agrees with your temperament, interests, family, and home space. Then learn how to care for it, so that both you and your pet will be comfortable.
A live hobby gives snugness to a room-and to a life. Kitty naps, ever-changing fish float and dive, the canary answers the telephone's ring, a dog watches from a window seat.
I know a brisk, solid manufacturer who breeds Siamese cats as a hobby. I supposed he was interested from the viewpoint of an investment, and that he was making money with his cats. But when I asked him why he followed the hobby, I found I'd met another member of the pleasantest fraternity in the world: a pet lover. He said:
"Why, with cats, there's always someone home."