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Posted: September 17, 2013 6:41 p.m.

Pets make life a zoo — in a good way

My husband and I have been married for 48 years and during that span of time, we have had numerous pets. Most were the usual cats and dogs, but some were not.

We have had rabbits in the backyard. They were in raised pens and were quiet pets, but they attracted dogs. My husband or I would have to go out periodically and chase the dogs away. My children enjoyed playing with the rabbits, and my younger daughter had to get a tetanus shot after being bitten by one.

We have had chickens in the yard. Let me tell you, roosters do not just crow at dawn; they crow all the time and are a nuisance. Our rooster committed suicide by flying into the chicken wire and getting his neck caught.

Waste not, want not. My husband decided we should eat the rooster.

But an expert in the matter informed him that you could stew that bird for months and it still wouldn’t be fit to eat. With the loss of the rooster, my husband lost interest in the chickens. The eggs were nice for awhile.

At one point my husband had a mule in the backyard. Mules bray and make more noise than roosters. That pesky mule would wake me up way too early in the morning. He (or, I guess, it) didn’t last too long. Somebody needed some fields plowed.

My husband also went through a period of keeping pigs. Not at my house, thank goodness, but in a variety of places. I don’t remember ever slaughtering a pig and eating it. So I don’t really know his reason for raising them.

He gets very attached to his animals. They always have names. Even the pigs. Patty the pig sticks in my memory as his favorite.

We also had more than our fair share of dogs and cats. The dog that lasted the longest was Ginger, a German short-haired retriever. (I never saw her retrieve anything). She wasn’t too bright, if you ask me. The only thing she was good at was procreation. Her nickname was the harlot of Floyd Street.

Every time a batch of puppies was weaned and given homes, we would start to take her to the vet to end her child-bearing years, only to discover she had beaten us to the punch yet again. And I don’t think she ever had fewer than eight puppies at a time.

She usually raised her puppies in the basement. At one point when my children were probably in middle school, a puppy that had been given to a neighbor decided to come home to mama. In the middle of the night, the neighbor went to the back of our house and called into the basement the name he had given the puppy.

It woke my older daughter up and scared her to death. My husband went charging out of the house with a gun, and everyone ended up scared to death. The puppy was there and went home with its new owner.

The cat before the one I have now is probably the most memorable of our cats, not because he was so wonderful, but because he was so peculiar.

The outdoor cat that we had while the indoor cat was still alive has now become an indoor-outdoor cat. It took her no time at all to make the adjustment. Her name is Julianne. One of my granddaughters named her.

She likes to stay outside in the daytime. But she has her nighttime ritual. She comes in about 7:30 p.m. and eats, grooms and sleeps. If she doesn’t get the attention and petting she feels she is entitled to, she will nudge you and then complain in the loudest of cat howls. Of all the cats I have had, I think she yowls the loudest and most often. About 4 a.m., she has had enough. She wakes my husband up, and he lets her out on the porch and leaves the kitchen light on until he is sure she has eaten and gone outside. Then he locks the back door, turns off the light and goes back to bed.

You want to know why my pets are always weird. My husband pampers them.

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Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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