June 18, 2019

Every Child Needs a Pet

“If you’re personally opposed to an animal inside your home, you probably have your reasons and there’s little anyone can say to change your mind.

But that doesn’t stop us zealots from trying.

As a child, I never knew life without a pet. With four older siblings, I was born into a family with a little beagle named Snoopy. At first, I wondered why Charles Schulz’s version slept on top of his doghouse while ours comfortably convalesced in the kitchen.

Our Snoopy was less flamboyant than the comic strip character. He didn’t wear a pilgrim hat on Thanksgiving or play on our backyard baseball team. Sweet and mellowed by age, she liked to sit under the kitchen table and stare out at the hustle and bustle of our seven-person family. Fifty years later, you can still see the evidence — small gnaw marks on the table legs and bench.

On a chilly October day when I was seven, I remember my oldest brother Jim scooping Snoopy up in his arms and announcing he was taking her to the vet. Nobody told me, and I’m glad they didn’t, but she was in the final hours of her life. When he returned empty-handed from Dr. Sussman’s office, tears were streaming down his face. He broke the sad news. I retreated to our side porch and cried along with my sister.”

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