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.

Razz-kids

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.

Question:

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

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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15 Responses to Unusual Pets I’ve Had

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    You may not have had any unusual species for pets, but for the most part their names are unique. I’m curious to know what CIP stood for.
    Condolences on Sipper’s passing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      C.I.P. stood for customer installation protocol — I think. My wife did the coordination for “installs” of various types of equipment for a regional Pitney-Bowes outfit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jbrayweber says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of King Sipper’s passing. Losing a pet is so hard. A chimp? Really? So not a chick magnet. At least not for me. My aunt had a monkey (the type escapes me but it wasn’t a chimp) and it was mean!

    I’ve had an array of animals as pets all my life. As a kid, I had the normal cats and dogs (bulldog, Scottish terrier, Elkhound, a terrier mutt, a pit bull mix), but I also had snakes, a mouse, a rabbit that could do tricks, a very mean turkey, turtles, fish, and a horse. Yes, the horse was more like a pet and he lived to be 43 years old. We currently have 2 cats (Tinsel, a tabby, and Binx, a long-haired black) and 2 dogs (Gypsy, a shepherd mix, and Shiner, a blue healer). The one pet I had always wanted but never got was a ferret. Now, in my adulthood, I don’t want one. They’re destructive little creatures. I wouldn’t mind having a fox for a pet.

    Great topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Gosh, Jenn… you’ve certainly had a menagerie. I’ve often thought a fox or a coon would make a nice pet, but you’d have to raise them from almost newborn for them to be tame enough to suite me. Otherwise, they’re just wild animals waiting for the right moment to “turn” on you. LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’m so sorry you lost King Sipper. Like me, you’ve always had animals around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thank you. Yes, it was hard. Sipper disappeared for three full days and when we found him, at the edge of the woods, up on the hill — he was breathing, but hardly more. Also dehydrated. He’d had the thyroid issues for some time, and the new bloodwork showed irregular liver also. He got to spend one final weekend with us and died on Sun. morning, the 8th.

      Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am so sorry to hear about King Sipper. I loved seeing photos of him and hearing stories about him. He was certainly a beautiful cat.

    I always wanted a monkey. Did you get to see the baby chimps that your mom worked with or even help? That would have been so much fun.

    I once pet sat for several rabbits. The ones that I watched were not very pleasant but I don’t think the people who owned them ever took them out of their hutches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s supposed to say King Sipper, Also no idea why it posted my comment as Anonymous.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jeff Salter says:

        Thanks, Angie. And I just corrected the spelling.
        yes, we got to visit our Mom at the Primate center many times. We weren’t allowed to pet the critters, but we could watch her bottle feed and diaper them. Once, we did keep (at our house) a marmaset which was the private pet of one of Mom’s bosses. The boss went on vacation and didn’t trust anyone else to take care of it. Other than pooping in inopportune places and inopportune times, that creature was fun to be around. Pretty friendly after getting used to us.

        Like

  5. Very interesting read. My daughter would be thrilled if her mom worked at a primate center. She has a love for gorillas and hopes to work at a sanctuary someday. For now, we have 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 snake, 1 hamster, 1 tortoise, 4 aquarium fish, 12 pond koi and a red -eared slider. The only thing missing is the partridge in the pear tree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      That is quite a zoo you have there, Roxanne.
      By the way, any other folks reading this comment — Roxanne is my Guest Fox for next Thursday, so be sure to come back at least by then to see what she has to discuss with us!

      Like

  6. My dad worked on oil rigs in the lower regions of Louisiana and off-shore in the Gulf and brought home, at different times, a baby alligator and a raccoon! We would take the alligator out of our bathtub for swims in the ditch. After two weeks of my mother complaining about the alligator in her bathtub, my dad made arrangements for the alligator to move a friend’s turtle pond where it ate all the turtles and disappeared. The raccoon was destined for Kentucky after climbing into our attic and hiding from my dad. Fatty Raccoon rode in a box by my feet for the two day drive to Kentucky. We feed him raison bread and grapes. The raccoon would pick the raisons out of the bread and eat them first, and then ate the crust of the bread slice. He would shove the grapes back out of the top of the box. He wanted them peeled. So, we peeled the grapes and shoved them back to him. Then, he would devour them!

    Liked by 1 person

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