When I was a teenager, my family and I lived in the neighborhood behind Geiser Park.
The house was close to the schools, and once I received my first 10-speed bike as a Christmas gift from my grandparents, I enjoyed the freedom to ride that bike to school and then ride it during the summer months downtown to take advantage of it. Of all the great stores that were there.
Hook’s Drug store for weird-colored hairspray, Virginia’s music store for the latest 45s, The Wishing Well for cute knickknack stuff, beehive for all sorts of random household goods (which I’m going to look at and think “how boring”) and hermit crabs that were featured in The window in a Baldwin drugstore is some of the usual stops.
The only store I was looking forward to visiting was JC Murphy. The creaking of the floor as you walked through the double doors and the smell of fresh popcorn struck my senses as I searched for the crystal sugar candy that was in the plastic fruit shapes.
What made this shop especially cool was that it had a full range of creatures in a side section of the shop. Gerbils, parrots, mice, hamsters, goldfish, they all had pets on the shelf and I wanted to take them all home.
I got permission to bring home my first pet on one of these trips, a small goldfish I aptly named Goldie. Goldie just needed me a pet to look after for about a week, and then the flood gates opened. I now swing to the thought of attaching a small cardboard carrier securely to the basket in the front of my bike that aptly says “I’m going home” and take the creature home.
If memory serves me correctly, at least two hamsters traveled this way before I finally got my driver’s license and then I could bring the cage and the critter home together.
At the height of pet-collecting on the shelf, I had four hamsters, a parrot, and quite many kinds of fish in two separate 10-gallon tanks, a guinea pig, two mice, and two frogs that I caught on the outside. It was a zoo at all, and my folks weren’t very excited about it, especially my dad, who was noticing that the house smelled less than it would for a family of four living there and more like a cattle ranch.
One evening, my father came home from work particularly nervous and told me out of frustration that I needed to downsize my critter collection. I objected, of course, but he said, “When you have your own place, you can have as many animals as you want; however, while you are here, there must be a limit.”
I must have taken this phrase very seriously.
Over the years, I have taken care of countless fish, rabbits, dogs, cats, mice, hermit crabs, more frogs, turtles, and most recently chickens, ducks, and bees.
Fortunately, I’ve learned to limit myself to taking care of creatures, and am more realistic about how many creatures I can comfortably take care of permanently at one time. However, I recently discovered a new way to get more pets without the long-term commitment that comes with owning a dog or cat: foster care.
There have been two foster dogs who have been sharing time with me recently. Both have moved into wonderful new homes after spending time on the farm enjoying the sights and sounds of the serene environment.
While there, they learned to move on from past traumas to settle without much ado in their new forever homes. Little Fiona, a Chihuahua senior, received the name Lacey and now lives the life of luxury with two very nice people, Tatter, a Chihuahua/Corgi mix, who got the name Ginger and now lives with a cute old lady at the Land of Horses in Kentucky.
I have no doubts that both puppies are the absolute love of their new owners’ lives, and I am grateful to be a part of that.
To succeed in cultivation, one needs to build as many relationships as possible to survive, and through reinforcement, I was able to do exactly that. In addition, to quote my father again, I have as many animals as I want. Just maybe within reason this time.
Until next time…
Stephanie Strothman owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in Seymour Country. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected]
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