Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 28, 2012

DAY: Pets give their lives to families

By Ray Day
Tribune columnist

— We go back in time once again to visit that wonderful world of childhood.

Although there was a World War during my early childhood, we had the love of our parents to keep us warm, clothed and fed. Dad worked at Globe American and then the steel mill in those early years, and Mom had the task of running the household, taking care of the home, the kids, and all the chores that were not already charged out to the older kids in the family.

We had a dog named Tippi, and he was a rat terrier and great dog for the kids. But Tippi got run over by a car, and that hurt all of us very much.

Not too long after that, a neighbor, Ray Bassett, gave us a beagle named Teddy. We had him for about five years, but he was poisoned by someone and died. We went without a dog until 1953, when we moved out to the farmhouse and another dog was given to us by the same friend who gave us Teddy. We named him King, and he hung around me like a another pair of pants.

Where I went, he followed. I had King until I was married and moved into my own home with my pretty bride. King liked it out on the farm, and he went back there to stay until he passed.

Dogs are like that. They get used to being in one place and not ready to start up somewhere else.

My family went without a pet until the girls were in their early years and we picked up a cat named Fluffy – a member of our family for several years until one night he went out and we never saw him again.

Then in 1974, while I was in the hospital, the man in the other bed – Kenny – was talking about his poodle which would have puppies before long. He was wondering where he was going to find a home for them, as he wanted to stay a one-dog man.

I asked him how many he thought she might have, and he said probably four puppies. I told him that my two daughters might want one. He promised to bring them around to get the pick of the litter.

So the time came when we had the opportunity to pick out that newest member of our family. We got the pretty one, and also the runt that seemed to not want anything to do with the other pups. We named them Tony and Tina, and we were one happy family having Tina for 11 years and Tony for 13.

Tina had a heart attack, and Tony was crippled up with arthritis and lonesome for Tina. We have not had any pets since then, as it really hurt to lose those dogs. Each one was about as much a member of the family as I was. They gave us a lot of joy. Although it was costly to keep them up to date on shots and medical care, we have never regretted having them.

When I was dismissed from the hospital and going home after 23 days, I walked into our house and all I could hear was the barking and wailing of those two dogs, who were in another room with the door closed.

My wife helped me into bed, as I still needed some bed rest, and asked me if I was ready to see Tony and Tina. I told her that I was. They jumped up on my bed and huddled in close to me. There they stayed the rest of that day.

Those poodles were glad to see me, and I was glad to see them. Pets are like that. They give their lives to us.

• Ray “Uncle Ray” Day is a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at uncleray@earthlink.net.