This week’s topic is pets, and the sad truth is, at the moment, I don’t have any.
Growing up I had lots of pets, ranging from the exotic—lizards, snakes, tarantulas, parrots, etc., to the not-so-exotic, like—dogs, rabbits, turtles, and even a horse. But no cats, since my dad was allergic.
And even though you’re not supposed to play favorites, I still did. And I’m not ashamed to admit that Snoopy and Lucky were my chosen ones. Probably because I didn’t have to “share” them with my sisters since they were received as much hinted for birthday gifts, which clearly designated them as “mine.”
Snoopy came first. As a major fan of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts Gang” I’d longed for a beagle of my own. And on my eighth birthday, when I was presented with an adorable tri-colored pup, I didn’t even hesitate to name him after my favorite character.
“Are you SURE you want to name him Snoopy?” My mom asked, phrasing the question as carefully as she could.
“Of course!” I said, overcome with the glee of wish fulfillment.
“Because, the thing is, Snoopy is going to live for a VERY long time. You’re going to have him WELL into your TEENAGE years.”
“So?” I shrugged, having no idea what she could possibly be getting at—until six years later, when boys started coming over, and I found myself cringing every time they’d ask my dog’s name.
For my twelfth birthday, I got Lucky (my horse!). And as it’d only taken three years of begging, three years of riding double on my friend’s horses, I felt like I’d finally arrived.
Ours was a horsy kind of neighborhood and all of my friends had one. We were obsessed with our horses, riding them everyday after school and on weekends, making up songs about them, dedicating our art projects to them, making up conversations of what they’d say to each other if they could actually talk, and as my parent’s were soon headed for divorce, Lucky provided the perfect escape from what was becoming a volatile house.
So two years later, when Lucky became ill and had to be put down, (an experience I touched on in FAKING 19), it felt like the end of the world. And I found myself turning back to Snoopy, not that I’d ever turned AWAY from him, but it’s not like I could saddle him up either. And true to my mom’s earlier prediction, he lived for a very long time, passing on when I was well out of school and on one of my travels through Europe.
I’m glad I wasn’t home to say goodbye, because back then; I wasn’t very good at them. And truth be told, I haven’t owned another pet since (other than a brief flirtation with a goldfish I referenced in FLY ME TO THE MOON.)
Yet there’s a special kind of joy that only a pet can bring into your life, which is why, soon, sometime soon, I plan to try again.
What about you—did you have a favorite pet growing up??
Alyson Noel is the author of FAKING 19, ART GEEKS AND PROM QUEENS, LAGUNA COVE, FLY ME TO THE MOON, KISS & BLOG, SAVING ZOE, FIRST KISS (THEN TELL), and CRUEL SUMMER (coming May 2008). You can visit her HERE