Petable Pets

Are there any unusual pets you’ve had — or would like to have?

I loved the dogs I have had with all my heart, but I find it hard to live without cats.

Not unusual, although, some of them have been!

Over the course of my life my families have had a rat, a mouse, a hamster, several guinea pigs.  We’ve had aquarium fish, turtles and even a rescue snake, (little garden snake; I never wanted one, would never have one again.)

We had, throughout my life, assorted birds: parakeets, a Beebee parrot, a cockatiel, a canary, assorted finches and a Spice bird, (with the sweetest song that never goes above a whisper!)

As for anything out of the unusual, my mother fed and tamed squirrels; we fed tame raccoons.

In Idaho, I spoiled my neighbor’s cows by feeding them cornstalks; the donkey at the small, local zoo took a liking to me and I visited him regularly.
I thought I’d like a donkey after that. I visited someone here who said theirs was cantankerous. He was friendly with me. (Maybe donkeys would like to have me as a pet!) That never happened, and now won’t.

When I moved to Kentucky, the people next door to me let us ‘share’ their menagerie which over the years included turkeys, guinea fowl, assorted chickens and geese. They had a potbellied pig, miniature goats, (we witness the birth of tiny twin kids!), an iguana, (who allowed me to feed it when my neighbors were away; he didn’t say much), two ferrets, (both of whom were escape artists and would come to me when I called to them), and a lamb, which I bottle-fed and washed while my neighbors worked. Fun that I had, I would, however, not choose to keep any of them on my own.

The people behind us had horses which I always made friends with, (mostly via apples and carrots).

I can’t say that many unusual animals have appealed much to me. I have enjoyed watching the shenanigans of weasels, but they can be so fierce.

Otters seem terribly cute, but I would hate to confine one. They seem to have so much fun frolicking.

Beavers are also quite cute, but some fool took one home from a park in Colorado when we were there. The man  got into trouble when he had to call the authorities for help; the beaver had almost destroyed the entire bathroom the kidnapper had locked him into.

I’ve seen tame, de-scented skunks who behaved like cats, but why bother? There are plenty of cats that need homes.

If there was a way to guarantee the continual tameness of such a creature, I’d like a bear. I’d never torture one the way those who captured them in the past did to keep them in control. But I  think bears  are beautiful. I always made sure that I saw Smoky when I went to the National Zoo when I was a kid and I visited all of his neighbors. For whatever reason, most zoos no longer have bears. I miss seeing them. But do I think it’s a good idea to keep a bear? No, no, I don’t.

As much as I love cats, I would never even in my wildest dreams want to keep a Big Cat or a Wildcat. The feral cats and abused spitfires I have worked to tame have been  enough for me. I find that their individual personalities are often unusual enough, thank you very much!


Posted in big plans, decisions, Family, memories, pets, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, What if | 4 Comments

Unusual Pets I’ve Had

… or That I Thought I Wanted

By Jeff Salter

Difficult to know exactly where to start with this topic, so I’ll go ahead and shock everybody. When I was a teen, I thought I wanted a pet baby chimpanzee, because I perceived they were chick magnets. Before you jump to the obvious conclusion that it was too far-fetched, let me explain that my mom (before, during, and after my teen years) worked at the Delta Regional Primate Center (just outside Covington LA). Among her many assignments there was the care and feeding of brand new baby chimps… just arrived at the lab after the ordeal of their travel from overseas. So I actually did have some exposure to various primates, including chimps. Had I ever gone through with this plan, however, the chimp would’ve had to wear a diaper constantly, because they’re terribly messy with their natural functions. Also, my “fostering” of that baby would have ended after a few months, because chimps grow quickly, become quite adventurous, and are incredibly strong.


Rascal with Julie and Dave… 1986 or 1987.

I’ll jump ahead to the pet who was the highlight of our years as a young family in Bossier City LA — Rascal. Razz was both inside and outside dog and (literally) slept on top of his dog house in fair weather. In bad weather, we pulled the dog house up on the back porch and packed it with hay and it was toasty warm. Razz-a-ma-tazz – also known as Spazz – could do numerous tricks, including an assisted back flip. He also did several impressions, including “motorcycle dog” and “little old lady”. One of his specialties was when all four of us would huddle on our hands and knees in the narrow hallway and Rascal would run back and forth, leaping over our pile of bodies as though he were a canine Evel Kneival.

During those years when we still had two kids at home, we also had ducklings, kittens, a cat that got pregnant, a little dog named Rags (or maybe Rugs), more ducks, rabbits, and (of course), Julie’s dog Sugar (who growled at anyone entering Julie’s room).

When I was young

When I was a kid living at home, our long time pet was Spottie, a fox terrier who was more like another sibling than a dog. She also went by the names Paahoo, Paahooweehaawoo, and Puppy Sue. Her main “trick” (if you could call it that) was that when we arrived home from being somewhere, Spottie would drag her tummy in the warm grass and we would all cheer her on as if she were performing a feat of canine gymnastics. “Do puddy” we would exclaim… and Spottie would drag her tummy all over the back yard. She lived a good long life (of a dozen years or more) and died in the sun as she napped.

During our year in Iowa, my sister adopted a dog which had been somewhat neglected (at least in terms of affection) by the neighbors. Once those neighbors figured out their dog was actually living at our house, they formally transferred ownership (and the responsibility for feeding). I forget her original name, but Becky re-named her Jennie. My brother, however, referred to the dog as Bennie. He would croon to her, “Bennie is so ugly… ugly, ugly, little Bennie” and the little dog would wag and smile and just luxuriate in all the attention. [No, the words did not bother Bennie/Jennie… because my brother’s tone was so soothing.] At some point in this period, I acquired a stray kitten initially given to my sister when she was briefly in the hospital. But Thomas later adopted our Dad as his primary human.

During those kid years, I also had a pet snake, a few goldfish, and a white rabbit — though not all at the same time. Along the way, I raised about half a dozen baby chicks into adults… and bred several generations of hamsters.

A bit older

When I was no longer a kid, but still linked to the home place in Covington LA, we had several other dogs about. One was a real character named Spock (first known as Ace and later as Spock-a-doodle)… another was a true water dog named Bangus (also known as Bangoose and Bangus McGregor). Somewhere in there was my sister’s Basset Hound named Nabby (whom my Dad nick-named Nabigail Van Buren).

More current pets

In the late fall of 2001, my wife acquired a male kitten from a Bossier City pound. Its original purpose was to keep the mouse population under control at her place of work. However, that cat, originally named C.I.P. (later changed to SIP, then Sipper or Sipcat… and finally King Sipper) soon became too friendly with the other employees. After jumping up on someone’s desk a few too many times, Sipper was banished from that workplace and came to live with us at home. He lived a long life, attaining over 16.5 years, and died about ten days ago (after a long struggle with his thyroid).

Belle was the little terrier with the bat-wing ears — that Denise bought for $10 from the Wal-Mart parking lot soon after her arrival in Somerset (mid 2006). Belle must have been part gazelle, the way she leapt through the tall hay in the meadows. She would catch mice, moles, and other little critters and toss them in the air (and catch them in her mouth). Before we had a pet door installed, Belle would be out in the front porch leaping up and down high enough that I could see her over the half door. Then I’d let her back inside — it was her form of ringing a doorbell, I guess. Belle came to an untimely end at about age seven after an attack by another dog.

Sipper and Belle were contemporaries and had a truce, more-or-less. While Belle was still living, our family was joined by another rescue dog, Bojangles. The two of them would play a seemingly endless game of chase while out-of-doors. Once inside, however, they napped together peacefully. Bo is now getting on in years, the gray fur on his face showing more and more gray. But he can still run on those short little legs.


What about YOU? What pets have you had? Have there been any that you thought you really wanted… but haven’t gotten (yet)?

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Unconditional Love

I’ve had pets ever since I was a little girl. In fact I remember my first pet, a little black and white spotted terrier that in my part of the South we called a fiest. Her name was Peanut and she’s the dog in the picture with the little girl. Of course the little girl is me. I remember what a good mama that dog was. She had a little of puppies that died, and she took our cat’s kittens away and tried to raise them herself.


One of my favorite pets was a little Siamese cat called Spooky because we got her at Halloween. She was more like a dog than you’d believe. She loved playing fetch with a small ball. One night I woke in the night to the sound of someone in the bathroom. My husband was still in bed so I went in there to see who it was, and I saw Spooky using the toilet. No one had taught her to do this. It was just something she did.

I think my all time favorite pet was a white dog called Rascal. Rascal was as smart as a whip. He knew how to open the door, and if it caught it just right with his paw, he could do it. He ran faster than any dog we’d ever had, and could jump almost as high as my head. He died eighteen months ago when he jumped out of the car and hit his head on the pavement.

So have I ever had an exotic pet? No, I haven’t, and I don’t have much desire to do so. Dogs and cats offer such love and devotion that I’ve never even been tempted to look at other creatures. I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that said, ‘What did we do to deserve dogs?’ What indeed. As long as my dog and cat love me as they do, I won’t be looking at any other animal.


Posted in pets, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Wooly, The Prickly, The Creepy, and The Snuggly

This week we’re talking about unusual pets. I’ve certainly had my share. For as long as I can remember animals have been a large part of my life. Growing up we always had cats and dogs. My first unusual pet was a lamb. My grandparents had a farm. On that farm they had sheep. We were at the farm quite often as my dad helped grandpa with the farming. Every year there was always one lamb that would be abandoned by its mother for one reason or another. My grandma would then bottle feed these lambs. One year there were three lambs that needed cared for. Grandma and Grandpa allowed me to have the one that Grandma had named Homer. I fed Homer from a glass Pepsi bottle that Grandma had attached a nipple to. Grandpa built a little pen by the apple trees for the three lambs. When they no longer needed milk Grandpa turned them out to the pasture with all the other sheep. Homer never forgot me. I was out in that pasture with him every time I went to see my grandparents. As soon as I went through the gate and called for him, Homer would run toward me, bleating. I would rub his head and then the two of us would walk through the pasture, down to the creek or up to my tree. Should I climb the tree he would wait for me at the bottom. He was my baby, I adored him!



Then my sister bought herself a hedgehog. She named him Willie. I loved going into my sister’s room to feed Willie. He was adorable and so soft! Well as long as you pet him the proper way. If you stroked him with the quills he was the softest creature, however if you accidentally pet him against the quills you got pricked! His belly was so soft and he enjoyed laying on his back and allowing you to rub his belly. Willie only lived a few years which is typical for an African pigmy hedgehog. We didn’t know that at the time.




My ex-husband bought a tarantula on a whim. He didn’t think I would like him at all. While I never named the spider I did care for it. I wouldn’t let him out of the cage but I did make sure to feed him. The spider scared my children and my ex would take him out of the cage to hold it while the kids hid behind me. He ended up taking it to his parents house to keep there one of the many times he moved out. The spider didn’t last long in their care, nobody would feed him. I cried for him. I told them that if they didn’t want him I would care for him but I guess they didn’t want me to have him at all.



The last unusual pet I had was a ferret. I was given him on Valentine’s Day. He was a lovey little thing who I called Valentine. He loved his baths! I would take him to the bathroom sink where he would splash for a bit before I would use the baby shampoo on him. After his baths he would curl up on my lap for a nap. Occasionally he would try to nap on my shoulder so he could snuggle into my hair. He didn’t care for my kids who were a little too rough for him (they were two and four at the time). But when he was placed in a hamster ball he would chase them around the living room, causing them to squeal in delight. Valentine was my sweetheart. We didn’t know that it was illegal to own a ferret inside city limits so Valentine was taken away from us. Jess still talks about him. Someday we plan to move to the country and hope to find another ferret as lovey as Valentine was.


Have you had any unusual pets? If not is there one that you have always wanted?

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Pets, or Pests?

Group of pets sitting in front of white background

Image from Deposit Photos

This week’s topic is about pets, and whether or not we’ve had or wanted unusual pets. There have been a few animals in my life, but none that I would consider unusual. I definitely don’t want any pets, either common or unusual. I am not comfortable around any type of living, breathing thing that’s not human. I don’t like to touch them, and will do almost anything to avoid having them touch me.

When I was quite young, we got a puppy. We named him Chipper. I have no idea what breed of dog he was, but he had floppy ears. We put him in a box with towels and a blanket, and Dad put a clock next to the box to make him think his mama was nearby. The next day my youngest brother broke out in hives, and it was determined he was allergic to dogs. The puppy went back to its previous owners.

We then got a parakeet, and we named it Suzy. After a few years we found out Suzy was male, but by that time the name had stuck. Suzy spent most of his time in the cage, because my mom and I didn’t like him. I hated it when it was turn to feed him because it meant I had to put my hand inside the cage. I usually bribed one of my brothers to do it for me.

After Suzy died, we went to goldfish. We had a gold one and a black one. They didn’t last long, so Dad had to keep replacing one or the other. I could handle that, because when feeding them, I didn’t have to touch them at all. My youngest brother had a large aquarium with lots of interesting looking fish, and he knew better than to ask me to take care of them.

About five years after we married, my husband came home with a pair of lovebirds. I made him promise he would NOT expect me to feed or care for these feathered creatures. We discovered that if we covered up the cage, we could trick them into thinking it was night time and they would quiet down to sleep, so I made a cage cover. Our birds spent a lot of time sleeping. Eventually, hubby got tired of the noise and they were sent to a new home.

When our youngest daughters were in elementary school, they decided they wanted a dog. The idea did not appeal to me, but I was outvoted and we got a Bichon Frise we named Demi. Demi was not bright. She never understood my aversion to her and kept trying to get into everything I did, so I spent more time away from home. We suspect her eyesight wasn’t all that good, either, because she’d only chase rabbits, squirrels, and balls for a few seconds, and then she’d lose them. But my daughters loved her, and mourned her when she died of old age.

We have managed to stay pet-less for the last fifteen years. Then a few years ago our youngest daughter adopted an extremely calm, well-trained West Highland Terrier, named Snowball, and we dog-sit when she travels on business. For some reason, I don’t mind him as much as I did Demi. He knows I’m not all that fond of him, and he gives me my space. In exchange, I take him for walks, which means I have to touch his fur in order to get the leash on his collar. I still cringe when I do that, but he doesn’t fight me so it doesn’t take long.

None of these animals are unusual, I guess. In my mind, they’re not normal because they’re not human. I’m thankful that my hubby and kids didn’t insist on adopting anything exotic, large, noisy, or dangerous!


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A Library By Any Other Name…

What is a ‘library’?
My grandson asked me to read a YA book, the first of a series. It started out not much to my taste, (unlike so many other he has chosen), but it picked up to be interesting after a while. However, this nearly made me put the book down: The author didn’t know the definition of a ‘library’.

In a nutshell, the story is about a young woman in a medieval-esque world. She was within a castle under coercion. She asked for a tour, a rouse to go looking for a means of escape, when she saw large doors and asked the guard showing her around what they lead to. “The library”, came the answer, and when he opened the doors, she was astounded at the immensity of it, the off-shooting halls and the amount of volumes within them. She asked about taking books with her, but the guard told her that it was forbidden. That night, she wrote to the crown prince, (with whom she has had dealings) and remonstrated with him by saying that the ‘library’ was not a library at all, but only a collection of books to be read by the king and other occupants of the castle.

Gosh, you’d think an AUTHOR would know that that is exactly what a ‘library’ is: a collection of works, usually of books.

It was perhaps not a ‘lending’ library, but such an entity is relatively new. Actually, the idea is only a couple of hundred years old.

There have been collections of ‘books’ as long as there has been anything remotely considered the written word; in a nutshell, they have been LIBRARIES. Most were royal libraries, as people who could scribe at all were few and far between, and writing more than likely started as ways to keep records. There was also the question of media, (clay tablets, chiseled stone, animal skin, papyrus, rice paper, wood paper, etc.), none of which was easily obtained and was always expensive.

Soon, stories and ideas were put down and the wealthy wanted to have their own collections of ‘books’. Actual schools, academies and universities began and all needed collections of writings, (‘books’), and all of those became libraries. These were not usually opened to the general public, even if the public in general could read, which was almost never the case. And certainly, few of the tablets, scrolls, books, etc., could ever be taken from the libraries, even by students. I can guarantee you that no one had a card that allowed them to take scrolls from the great library at Alexandria, one of the Eight Wonders of the Ancient World. (Although, with enough money and influence, you could have scrolls copied for you to own.)

I remember having to do my own version of pictures from the text of my history books when I was in grade school. Only a few stick in my mind. The first was of Chinese scholars hiding scrolls under the floorboards before the soldiers, who were closing in, arrived. It seems the emperor at the time ordered all written record of earlier times to be destroyed, so that all history would then begin with him. I had to choose that one; the idea of the destruction of so much history  and the bravery of the scholars struck me deeply.

Another picture that I recreated (badly) was of a monk-scribe painstakingly copying a (literal) manuscript. [“manu”-by hand/“script”– written.] His years of work could not go unappreciated by me.

(The only other I remember copying was the Indians teaching the Pilgrims to fertilize their corn with fish, but I digress.)

Both the scrolls and the manuscripts were from LIBRARIES, but ones from which no one had means to borrow.

From the start, and to this day, there are private libraries. My books are my library, as are yours. There are buildings containing libraries which are not open to the public. Some are private, some for members only, some are for students of the universities, colleges, and the schools in which they are contained. Go ahead; try to walk into a public school and attempt to check a book out. You can’t do it. Libraries around the world may let you in to read, but you can’t remove the books from the building.  There are even such books in your local public library; you must know that reference books cannot be checked out.

Sometimes there are rare books that you can’t take from the shelves and you must have authority or permission even to see them within libraries,  libraries where you may usually borrow books. I have ‘borrowed’ books from a distant library only to have to read the book at the library I used for the loan. (This happened with book I had wanted to see for almost  two decades. The library said that they tried to call me when it was in; they didn’t or they didn’t leave a voicemail.I had just a couple of days to get there to see the book. I didn’t get my hands on it for long.)

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with inventing the lending library system. Technically, he didn’t. He got the idea form his travels into Scotland, where towns often either pooled their money for books, or individuals purchased them, and they were communally owned and read. They were passed around to whomever wanted to read them and apparently, most people did. It was very democratically done, with everyone from the blacksmith and his apprentice, to the lady of the manor and her maids, to the shop girls and the vicar, reading whatever came to town and discussing the work in passing with anyone they wished.

We can give Ben credit for making libraries a bigger and better idea in America, with books bought to be loaned.

A collections of book is, by definition, a library. Collections of music are ‘libraries’; collections of tapes, Blue Rays, DVDs are ‘libraries’, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone can walk into my house and take out any from mine.(However, you may come on over! Anyone willing to read through this is welcome to borrow anything from me!).

Why doesn’t the author know this? Why didn’t her editor change this? Why do they teach this misconception to their young readers?

It was a library; the protagonist had no grounds for the argument that it was not. Taking the prince to task over the ability to take books from the shelves to other parts of the castle was commendable.

She won.

Good for her!

Posted in America, authors, Books, dystopian worlds, favorites, libraries, novels, protagonists, reading, research, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Officer, May I Speak?

Rousted While (Mostly) Innocent

By Jeff Salter

            [Note: this incident actually happened – five years ago – and I recorded it at the time… so as to be completely accurate as to what occurred.]

The Safety Officer thoroughly eyeballed me, my truck, and presumably my Mom in the passenger seat… then drove his Patrol cruiser all the way around the parking lot and pulled in tightly behind me so I couldn’t flee the scene. I wondered if he intended to drag me away in handcuffs because I had squeezed the Charmin.

He asked if I had a handicapped sticker (since it was one of the 29% of my Kroger visits with my Mom that I actually found an empty handicapped slot to park in). I said yes we did [we hang it from the mirror] and started to explain that my Mom had already put the sticker away (in her carryall) while I was loading the groceries. But the Officer interrupted me and said, “You’re required by law to DISPLAY the sticker if you’re using the handicapped slots.”
So I started again to explain that we HAD displayed it while we were parked… but that my Mom quickly put it away while I dealt with the groceries. But he interrupted again with more bureaucratic-ese.
Then my Mom started in with her continual refrain, “I’m nearly 91 and I have old bones…”
That didn’t phase the Officer in the slightest. His retort: “I’m not far behind you, lady, and I have old bones too.”
He voiced a final reproach about keeping the sticker posted while using the slot, and then he trudged away to his cruiser.
While he was surely still in ear-shot of my Mom (who talks VERY LOUDLY since she’s nearly deaf), she waved the sticker in my face and said, “It’s a good thing he didn’t look very close at my sticker because you let it expire last month.”
I think I was the victim of ‘profiling’ today.

            What about you? Have you ever been interrupted repeatedly, to the point that you were not even allowed to explain?

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