Our first pet was a cat

Our first pet was a cat. As newlyweds, John and I were cat people more by convenience than by choice. We were busy and cats don’t have to be walked. We were spontaneous and cats can be left alone for hours. We were poor and cats are cheaper to feed.

We didn’t take on the responsibility of having a dog until after we’d had a family – until after we’d settled down, traded most of our spontaneity for children and saved more than a penny for a rainy day.

Our first dog was a brown, non-allergenic, toy poodle named Godfrey. I named him that because I don’t like nicknames and the name Godfrey seemed nickname-proof.

Wrong. After Godfrey’s first vet appointment, the vet escorted us back to the busy waiting room. In an attempt to be chummy he said, “Be a good boy, God. I’ll see you next month”. Needless to say, there was an immediate hush and a room full of shocked stares.

Godfrey, however, didn’t think he was God. Because no dog intimidated him, he thought he was a size-challenged pit bull.

When we traveled, Godfrey stayed with his dog sitter. Well, he usually stayed with her. Three times that little, five-pound adventurer managed to get out his sitter’s gate and come home – much to the amazement of our neighbor, who would hear him barking indignantly outside our front door. Yes, a half mile is a long trip on four, little legs.

Once when the sitter was walking twelve, little legs – eight belonging to her two Boston terriers – a man driving by yelled, “Hey lady, why don’t you trade all three for a real dog”.

The driver was right. Godfrey wasn’t a real dog. He was family. Cat’s are like guests in your home, but a dog that pulls his carrying basket off the shelf whenever he sees you’re going out is family.

When Godfrey left us, he left a hole in our hearts. Now Zachary, a black, non-allergenic, standard poodle lives with us. Zachary doesn’t walk – he struts. When other dogs want to play, he chooses to converse with their owners.

Zachary is thirteen. His black coat is salt and peppering, but inside that Cary Grant’ish body is my soul mate. Why did I give Zachary a nicknameable name? Because I’d gotten to the end of the alphabet before I could find a name that suited him.

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