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Topic: Pets (09/13/04)
TITLE: The Traiter, the Harlot, and Other Critters I Have Known
By Glenda Lagerstedt
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After the death of our much loved beagle, Sam, (short for Samantha) I longed for someone tiny and trouble free to take care of who wouldn’t break our hearts by sulking and exhibiting anorexic traits whenever we went away. I found my answer unexpectedly at the pet store with a young friend. I couldn’t believe something could be so tiny and cute and still be a full-grown adult. I had discovered dwarf hamsters!
I was in love. I didn’t do any research. I got two girls so they wouldn’t be traumatized at being snatched away from beloved siblings
Naming them seemed challenging. Heidi was easy because she was shy and hid. But a name for the extrovert wasn’t so easy. Donna? Joanna? Marie? Stella-jane? I was distracted by an assortment of names that seemed to fit, like Hector, Harry, or Clifford. It didn’t occur to me that God might be trying to give me a hint.
I caught on, though, the day I was startled to see a squirming mass of something (grubs? horrors, how’d they get in there?) in the little hamster outhouse I had purchased as an add-on. (The label suggested convincingly that it would become a preference for bathroom duties. So much for research.)
Actually it became a hamster bedroom. A hamster whose name immediately became Jezebel (after the harlot queen of biblical fame) when I figured out the squirming mass wasn’t grubs. Now I knew why two girls’ names hadn’t worked, and the other “girl” we named Judas (after the traitor, also of biblical fame.)
This subject of pets stirs up memories. My hamster story told, my mind wanders back to our Sam. She was a people person…um, dog…and faithfully followed as I planted flowers and tended them throughout many summers. It never mattered to her that I have a tendency for disorganization and we made frequent unnecessary trips back and forth to retrieve what I had left behind us. She would rise from her comfortable spot and walk beside me, even after arthritis and old age had taken their toll.
One of Sam’s most admirable traits was her gentleness. In her fourteen years with us, we never saw a hint of anything less than gentleness...unless you count the times we were away and tried to corral her somewhere besides the living room carpet. For that we paid the price of shredded shower curtains, stripped-off wallpaper, ripped up floor tiles, torn magazines, and a broken (costly) baby gate. It’s a good thing we didn’t have the hamsters then; it would have been easier to blame the damage on them. Evidence to the contrary, it was difficult to picture Sam falling from grace.
That brings to mind Pepper, also a gentle beagle. Only twice in his life did he show a different side of his personality. People came and went at our home. He didn’t care. However, once friends arrived in the wee hours of the morning. We knew they were coming. Pepper did not. We welcomed them joyfully. Pepper did not. Something told him that trustworthy folks visited only at decent hours. Fortunately, my husband was able to grab him before he showed these shady intruders what a dog that was ten foot tall and fearless could do.
The next time he reasoned out people etiquette was when a gentleman arrived to repair our TV. Pepper and I greeted him at the door and escorted him into the living room. I knew it was okay for him to go behind the TV set. Pepper did not. His dog mind told him that a stranger ducking behind furniture in the corner was not trustworthy. Again, it took quick intervention to relegate super dog to the bedroom.
My mind meanders down memory lane to childhood and a cat. His name was Fluffy. One ill-fated day Grampie said, “Fluffy needs a haircut.” (How was I to know he was joking?) Now, of course, Fluffy was a boy and didn’t boys wear their hair cut close to their head? So I gave Fluffy a nice boys’ haircut, ear to ear. (Uh-oh…!)
My favorite part of the creation story is when God made the animals. It was He who created the warm fuzzy feelings we share with pets. I like to ponder that. And I like to wonder if Jesus as a child ever found a litter of kittens hidden away in a corner under the workbench?