My Biggest Boy


A few years ago I would have fallen into the “cat person” category. My children would often remind me that if it hadn’t been for the fact that “Daddy” was allergic to them I would probably have ended up on the animal planet’s “Hoarders” series. The crazy cat lady, uh… yes, that would be me. As it is, with allergic husband and all – we have three.

Growing up with three brothers my family always had variety of species dwelling on the property: in garbage cans (hognose snakes – and boy, was mother shocked when she went to throw the trash in), in cans (toads for the hognose snakes to eat), in jars (lightning bugs don’t live long in jars – in case you wondered), in hutches (about 48 hamsters at a time), in the dog house (between 7 and 13 cats at a time – they took over the dog’s house), in the pond (goldfish until the catfish ate them, but that’s another post), in homemade cages (for the praying mantis or surviving caught mice), in aquariums (about 10 of them for the budding tropical fishery), and on the side porch(dogs – usually three at a time).

Don’t think I wasn’t in the middle of all of it. I handle snakes. Have a snake question? Ask me. Insects? Expert. I adore frogs – the cool green ones. Not so fond of toads. In my mind the jury is still out on whether those bumps give you warts. AND when you pick up a toad it PEES on you! And its pee probably gives you warts also.

I suppose you can tell I had a problem with warts as a kid.

I was always involved with the animals. We grew up out in the country. Apart from my brothers, I wasn’t allowed friends at my house so the animals were my companions. I would even sneak out at night to sleep in the dog house with the cats. Warm kittens curled up and purring on your chest – there’s nothing like it. Is that weird? Probably.

But dogs? Couldn’t stand them. My brothers loved them. My brothers smelled like the dogs, i.e. don’t like either of them. (Okay – for the record, I love my brothers now, but this was then and now is now.)

I grew up and discovered I liked boys. I even married one. Although he is allergic to cats and initially I gave up a cat to marry my husband. He has been suffering ever since because we have cats. Heh. Heh. Though it is my theory that if you live with an animal long enough you become immune to that animal. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Apparently the cat’s saliva is particular to the cat and humans can build up a resistance. This proves my husband’s undying love as he has put up with and grown immune to our many fuzzy felines for all these thirty years.

Baby number one was a boy. I don’t know why it is that there’s this floating cultural idea that boys need a dog but I believed that my son needed a dog. We went to the shelter and the first puppy I saw was too adorable to turn down. Part German Shepherd and part Lhasa-Apse (I don’t know how either), Grover looked like Benji, but turned out to be the dog from hell. He tore off the siding of the house, the tile from the bathroom floor, ate through a storm door, and made life-changing messes on the carpet. I had him very well-trained. Only he was so smart he would watch to see when I wasn’t looking.

We gave him to a good home.

Years later one of our beloved cats went missing. I visited all the pounds. No Ajax. But, I phoned my husband, “Hey! I found a chihuahua that looks just like the cat.” “NO DOGS!” said my husband. I went home and pouted and whined. Poor puppy. Poor, poor little puppy – in that cold, cruel pound. “OKAY!” said my husband. “BUT IT WILL BE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!”

Fourteen years later we had to put that precious pound puppy down and it was horrible. Yes, Skittles was the husband’s lap puppy for all those years.

Our wonderful Big Boy is a delight. All 80 pounds of him. Yes, the shelter people said he wouldn’t get any larger than 45 pounds. They lied! I could tell from his baby photos that his hooves declared him to be a future monster. We live in a big city. And he has a monster-dog bark.

I’m so glad we have him.

Last night was a little on the coolish side. Big Boy was shoved up against me in the bed, a snoring heater of a dog. Warm dogs smell like a combination of warm buttered popcorn and canned peas, have you ever noticed?

It’s the best scent in the world.

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