You’re Such an Animal–Really! Share Pet Tales, Get Books

First, a commercial message: I’m over atย today, talking about the community of Penton, Alabama, which is located about twenty or thirty miles from where I live. I pull back the curtain on what’s real, what’s made up, and what’s a mashup…and giving away a book!ย 

I also have the beginnings of the Redemption Pinterest page up with stuff like the houses I used as patterns for the ones Aidan and Mirren live in.

I’m just going to blither a little today–haven’t done that in a while. It was a sad week last week, as my BFF lost her dog to a sudden illness. Jagger was a nine-year-old black lab with a HUGE personality. Funny. Holy cow, but that dog was funny. Way too smart for his own good. He was a master thief and would eat anything. I once saw him down a bag of dried apricots. The world is a quieter, sadder place without him in it. (He was also a big boy; shown here with a friend’s toddler, just to give you a sense of scale!)

It made me start thinking about the animals who’ve been in my life and have meant so much to me. My first pet was a dog. I was out in the country, playing with the Norris sisters in a cotton field (seriously) and we found a mama dog and three puppies. Of course, we had to get Mr. Norris to rescue the dogs and I managed to wheedle my dad into letting me take one home. I named him Ringo. I don’t have any pictures of him, but in my memory he looked like a raccoon!

I went through a cat phase next, with Jason and Monroe and Sarah (don’t even ask about the names). When puberty hit I also developed a cat allergy, so me and kitties had to part ways. About the same time, my brother got married and we inherited his dachshunds, Hilda and Brandy. Hilda was sweet. Brandy was a nightmare. He was a longhaired doxie and really pretty and despised me. I was afraid of him. I remember one time, when I came home from school, he “treed” me in a dining room chair until my parents got home from work two hours later. I was probably about sixteen. But without Brandy, there wouldn’t have been his and Hilda’s offspring…

Hannibal. He was mine from the second he was born. Hannibal stayed behind when I went to college but after my obligatory year in the dorms I got an apartment and brought him to Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide). Only Hannibal, who adored me, did have his daddy’s disposition. He hated my boyfriend. He hated all my friends. He had to go back to live with his grandparents.

I was dogless for several years until I was working for a daily newspaper, editing the feature section where we had a “pet of the week” from the SPCA and I fell in love with a springer spaniel mix I named Lola. Lo was with me a couple of years before I decided I’d had enough of Alabama and took off for the wilds of the Chicago area, and Lola had to go live with her grandparents. (You’re seeing a pattern here?)

I went dogless through my nomad phase, from Illinois to Texas to California to Louisiana. Until one day, Raymond, my coworker who raised Scottish terriers, told me about an Irish terrier living in the backyard of the house next door. She was underweight and neglected. The people in the rental were planning to move and were going to just let her out on the street–they had stolen her to begin with, they told him, when she followed their kid home from school. She’d been living on an old wet mattress and playing with beer cans.

Well, of course I took her. That was 14 years ago, and Shane O’Mac has been with me ever since. She’s slowed down a lot but she evacuated from Katrina with me, and for six weeks, she lived in the house with Jagger and they loved to play.

Six months after I got Shano, a starving stray wandered by my front fence and Shane adopted him. Really. It wasn’t me. I called the animal shelter and they came and took him away. He cried when they put him in the truck, and I was a goner. So I went to the shelter after his obligatory five-day incarceration and paid $50 to adopt the dog I’d had them pick up. He was fuzzy and scrawny, and weighed 40 pounds, half his desired weight. He’d been living on leaves and trash. The day I brought him home he slipped in the kitchen and ate an entire pound cake.

Tanker now weighs about 85 pounds and turns 14 this month. He’s deaf as a fence post, stubborn, and I absolutely adore him. He also evacuated Katrina with me and lived with Jagger. Tank did not play with Jagger. He did not like Jagger. He and Jagger had to go in “time out” at least once a day.

So…for a mystery box o’books from the TBR shelves, tell me about your favorite pets!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

43 thoughts on “You’re Such an Animal–Really! Share Pet Tales, Get Books

  1. I had my sweet Lady from the time I was in kindergarten to my freshman year in college. She was “my” dog, but she adored my dad. As he would weed the flowers along the chain-link fence she would stick her long nose through the fence to try and get closer to him. As he moved down, so would she. He was the only person who could brush the tangles out of her fur without getting nipped (she was part collie). I still miss her ๐Ÿ™

  2. My parents were averse to having pets. However, we kids so begged and pleaded that they broke down and allowed a hamster. We little ones were charmed by Fluffy and several times I spied my father feeding tidbits to her. My mother remained unmoved from her original position. I believe that was largely due to the furball’s great talent as an escape artist. She would disappear overnight from her cage and remain on the lam for days. The longest stretch was two weeks and she was finally found in a nest of her own making in a third drawer up from the floor of the interim room between dining room and kitchen. Mom was not amused.

  3. I have/have had so many it’s difficult to choose one. My latest addition is a kitten who was born in my backyard to a feral mama cat. I’m not sure he realizes he’s a cat. If food gets dropped on the floor, he races the dogs to get to it first (even though two of them are Great Pyrenees and could easily squash him). He is afraid of nothing and only reluctantly gets off the kitchen counters if threatened with the spray bottle.

    • I love cats that grow up with dogs! My friend’s dog Jagger, who inspired today’s posts, was big buddies with her cat Holly, and Holly adored him. She didn’t scare him for an instant.

  4. My family has always had dogs! My beagle, Lettie, is the first dog who is solely mine. She’s 15 and has serious heart issues requiring lots of medicine, but it’s made such a difference in her life. It’ll be hard to say goodbye when the time comes, because I got her from the Humane Society about a month after my husband and I started dating 10 years ago. My sister jokes that my husband married me for joint custody of the dog. It’s probably true, lol.

    • LOL. Great joke, though! Yes, I know mine have health issues and 15 is especially old for a big dog like Tanker. I know it’s coming but it’ll break my heart when I lose him. Either one of them.

  5. i only had 2 dogs the actual one and it’s predecessor…

    Youki was alreday there when i was born and thus i was his baby he priotected me, let me play with him ( good actor he knew his name role in each of our play), he always came on holidays with us and was completely part of teh family….the only time i saw him acting funny was after teh only time he didn’t came with us… my father’s work place organised a travel to egypt when i was little only a few days etc but for me it was magivcal until i learned youky couldn’t come….i cried, shouted nothing did it . he stayed at home with my aunt and a friend of my father coming to feed him and take him out….and to be well fed he was because his weight nearly doubled when wewre back ( my aunyt woreked in an hospital and gave him the meat not eaten^^ several steachk a day sometimes^^) so you think he would have been happy…. when we came home i i was delighted to see him ( oki surprised to see him so big) he came i petted him cuddled him and then my parents came with the luggages….and my brave dog just give them his back… he saw them and turned and sat no bribery or petting, calling etc did it for 3days he turned his back on my parents and only took care of us kids because he knew we had nothing to do with the decision to leave him^^ i’m sure my parenst understood because they didn’t hold a grudge and we never went again somewhere he couldn’t come. He stayed with us until his 19years old.

    Now my baby^^ i saw him when he was 2days old ( one month after i lost youky and was so devasted) i was in a school at teh campaign far from home and i saw a place where there was a lot of dogs and thougjh lot of them perhaps babies… i did all the kilometer on foot twice ( becaus efirst time no one was there i went back to schioll then rushed back in case they were back in the hour of walk i took^^) finally in the middle of the culture i stopped and started to cry …. i saw my father cry the first time when youky left us so i hadn’t been crying until then but it was just too much….suddenly a woman was there ( yes in middle of nowhere) walking with her own dog and asking what happened i told her and she kindly told me she would try to help, asked my number and sent me back at school to be there when my father came to fectch me ( it was a friday) by the time i was home 2h later the phone rang she had told someone who told another etc and one had just gotten puppies the day before and was happy to give me one ( when old enough) my father didn’t understood so i explained and all teh familly agree and he took teh car with me to see teh babies…10 littles babies i never saw so young ones and so cute the mother was a “levrier” so sitting down she was 1m ( or a littel above) and was looking suspiciously at me…first i was looking at his sister ( even if i told myself he wouldn’t be teh same) and his mother just took mine and dropped him imagien one metter high a little thing so fragile i jumped and caught him my heart beating badly….( so angry with his mother them) i put him back in the bed carefully tried to tyouch another to be growled at but him i could touch and take so it was decided it was him…… and now i’m still thanking his mother each day for the wonderful gift she gave me with her trust. he has health troubles, like me, and we undertyand each other so well. he nursed me to health, saved my life and i did the same i can’t loose him so really all my thought are with your BFF

  6. When I was a kid I had a poodle mix named Blackie. He was a very laid back dog. One day I draped a garter snake over his nose and he just stood there until I took it off. And he was a good watchdog. He had a broad chest and a deep bark. I was home one day and my grandmother who was in her eighties was sitting on the stairs holding the dog’s collar so the meter man could come in. I’ve never seen anyone go down into the basement and back out the door so fast. What the meter reader didn’t know was that if my grandmother let the dog go he would have just walked over and licked his hand.

    • Ha–that’s how my terrier is. She has a deep, loud bark and then would lick the burglar to death when he got inside. If he had chicken with him, she’d help him unlock the door. Tanker has a wussy bark, but would probably take off the burglar’s leg.

  7. I still miss my last two dogs, who died of old age. My Basko was an apricot poodle, and I loved him very much. He was so jealous of other people, he always managed to sit between me and my boyfriends on the couch. No touching me! Grr..
    Blacky was another rescue dog, like Basko abused, and it took a long time for her to trust me and start acting like a normal dog. They both ate as much as possible until they learned there would always be food on the floor for them.

    Unfortunately, my allergies have become so bad, I cannot have a pet anymore. If I visit friends or relatives with pets, my medication allows me a three hour visit, tops.

    • Aw, too bad about the allergies but at least you can enjoy your friends’ pets…a little at a time. Both of my dogs are rescue dogs and I think there’s a special bond with a rescue dog because there is a trust-building process.

  8. We used to have a dog called Pino. She loved it when we went to visit my parents and even if we didn’t mention to her where we were going, she always knew when we were going to my parents. She would wake us up early on such days while otherwise she was lazy in the morning.

    One time I put her in the car for a visit to my parents, but something came up that delayed our departure. I tried getting her out of the car so she could stay in the house, but she refused and made such a nuisance of herself I let her stay in the car.

    • Hahaha–she was staying in the car until she got to go, darn it! Dogs are funny. I read somewhere that most of the more intelligent dogs are about on the vocabulary and understanding level of a human 3-year-old, so that’s actually pretty smart!

  9. My first pet was a gray cat named Misty. She was adorable and tiny. The next was a group of four cats that wandered around our house (Tiger, Tigger, Sunshine, and Simba). They slowly wandered away until Sunny was the only one left. We got a new kitten – Black Beauty. She had a white spot under her chin that gave her the name. She was my favorite of all our cats. Now we have Sir Gibbons (Gibbs), the crazy cat who has too much testosterone (seriously…we have to give him estrogen shots). He is just so angry all the time, but he’s adorable when he’s asleep. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. My avatar is my dog Sammie, from when he was 4 months old. My ex had 2 dogs, a beagle and pointer, which he didn’t fix and Sammie is the result of an oops. I’ve had him since he was born and we are definitely bonded. When my ex and I split up this last summer, he didn’t take it very well b/c he lost his other human and his doggie parents. We are finally all settled and Sammie is finally happy b/c he gets a lot more time and adoration from his “grandma” who spoils him rotten since we live so close. She will actually go over and get him when I’m at work so he can hang out with her and her dogs. He’s definitely my furbaby!

  11. When I was a child I had a dog named Kodiak, he was an Alaskan Malamute with some wolf in him. He was bigger than me and a great watchdog. He loved to play tug o war and he used to grab the bell bottoms on my pants and pull my pants off. One night our babysitter heard a noise at the door, (it was pouring down raining) when she opened the door, Kodiak came in and she went out. Kodiak jumped up on the couch and she had to stand outside behind the door peaking around to see us, but Kodiak just sat there and protected us, he didn’t like her much, but he never tried to bite her, just made her stay outside in the rain. Then one day these customers came to my Dad’s shop, he was in the house and instead of immediately blowing the horn to let my dad know they were there they got out and was walking around. Kodiak immediately started barking and when he saw dad coming out he looked at the men and picked up a brick and started crushing it with his teeth. One man said : You know that is a mean dog, they feed him bricks!” Then one day man came into our yard and started “exploring” Kodiak went after him. Of course he reached the end of his chain and barked and growled, the man decided he was chained and not a threat, I guess he thought no one was home as I was coming out the door to see what was up, Kodiak heard me open the door, snapped his chain and chased the man off the property, he would snap the teeth at the man’s butt as he was running in and miss by a hair, Kodiak could have caught of course, but when the man was in the road, Kodiak sat down and looked at him, daring him to come back. One day my great uncle kept begging to pet him, he was a beautiful black & white with thick glossy fur and that curved up tail, so I can’t blame him for wanting too. Finally my grandpa said okay, while I’m petting him, you can pet him. When grandpa told him to remove his hand, my uncle, no that the dog liked him now, and refused to remove his hand, my grandpa said don’t say I didn’t warn you, as soon as my grandpa moved his hand, Kodiak snapped at my uncle and just barely scratched him, but let him know, “who said I liked you” . One final story, one Christmas Day, my dad had to work in his shop for an emergency job, we were all next door at my grandparents, to of my dad’s great aunts came visiting. My dad looked up and saw a strange car parked right near Kodiak and that Kodiak was lying under it. He took off running to my grandparents and busted in wanting to know how bad it was and if he needed to take anyone to the hospital, when he realized that no one was hurt, he asked his aunts how they got past the dog, they replied, “that sweet puppy? He was so helpful when we getting out the car, he lets pet him and when I was trying to close my door with my hands full, he pushed against and closed it for me.” Needless to say, everyone was a little flabbergasted at that one, he had never barked and let my dad know anyone was there, that was the only exception he ever made.

    • What great stories, though! Sounds as if Kodiak had a smart sense of who to trust and who not to, and picked for himself :-). My Tank is sort of like that. He is not a social dog. He either dislikes you or he ignores you–he’s half Chow Chow, and he has that personality. If you get a tail wag from him, you’re special indeed. He’d jump between me and anything he perceived as a threat, though!

  12. I’ll always remember my family’s first dog as a kid. King was a German Shepard/Collie mix and was so sweet, smart and protective. He would jump up and stand between my Mom and the mailman when she was working in the front yard. The other dogs that followed later would just hide behind you or stand off to the side. With King, you knew that you were protected.

  13. We’ve had soo many animals in my house. All of them except one have been a rescue in of some sort. Our first dog Buzz was from the pound. He was the only dog there not barking and going crazy. His tail was bloody at the tip from wagging it so much against the concrete walls. I knew as soon as I saw him that he was the one. We had him for over 2 months before we even knew he could bark. He was about 4 when we got him and 19 when he finally passed. Then came my baby Gabby. She was a rottweiler. But she was a runt of the litter. She was so tiny. I always said she was actually a pot belly pig in disguise. She would literally snort like a pig. She really was my baby. She had to sit at my feet where ever I was and sleep by my bed. We rescued her from an abusive home. Putting her down was the hardest for me. Our 3rd dog Hailey, a german shepard/lab mix was originaly my brothers but they knew she wasnt really living a good life. They had opened a daycare out of there house and she was stuck in the basement pretty much all day so we took her from them. She passed shortly after Gabby, so that was rough.
    Right now I have 2 dogs in the house. Sassy who was pretty much my dog Gabbys baby. When we brought Sassy home she tried constantly to nurse from Gabby. I have tons of pictures of her sleeping on top of her. Sassy is a shih tzu/pappilion mix. We also just rescued my newest dog Sasha from a friend of a friend. The kids dad was going to throw her on the street and we couldnt let that happen. Shes about a year old now. Shes a Sheeba Inu/Husky mix. Shes very pretty but super hyper!
    We’ve also had tons of other pets. Sugar Gliders, hamsters, gerbils, lizards, rats at one point, and fish. We’d have cats but my moms severly allergic to them.

  14. We just lost our first family dog this past year. We had gotten stitch around my son’s first birthday. They grew up together and were always the best of friends. She was the sweetest Boston terrier in the world. When she passed away it was such a hard time, she was like a member of the family. We keep a box of keepsakes of her to remember her by.
    They truly do plant themselves in your hearts and become family.

  15. I had a cat named Bebe. She was my shadow and always consoled me when I’m having a bad day. I also had another cat name Pookie. He always comforted me when I’m mad at my sister or when I have cramps

  16. I grew up with cats. We had one cat who would go into the pantry, skip the cat food cans and knock over the tuna fish can and push it out hoping someone would feed her that for dinner. She was one smart cat!

  17. I’ve had dogs and cats over the years but my favorite was a cat named Streak. He was the runt of the litter and a little on the scrawny side. He was the sweetest cat I’ve ever had. He loved to cuddle. He would chase you down for an olive or a Cheeto. He died 3 years ago and we all still miss him bunches.

  18. My first dog was named Puddles because she pee’d everywhere!! I then had a cat who had a large litter of kittens and I named them after the Archie comic book characters. I had a black and white cat named Felix that lived a very long time. I had a boyfriend give me a Yorkie that fell in love with my dad and so she became his dog ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I have 2 spoiled Yorkie boys of my own Pete and Pirogue (pee-row). My husband wants an Old English Bulldog—-we will see about that. bobbyehopebooth at yahoo dot com

  19. I confess I always lived with a dog so it’s now my fav pet. it’s a little more difficult with cats or other because they’re so different. But for example, right now, my dog is so wonderful! And I’m even trying to find another one. It’s a Collie/Colley, like Lassie, but I don’t know if it’s the same in English… So beautiful!

  20. I had a lovely cat for 7 years and then decided she needed a companion because she was alone all day while I was at work and my son had moved out. Catalina did not take to Charlie, so I then adopted a cat he had grown up with in the shelter and they got along wonderfully. Catalina disliked both of them. It was an ongoing struggle until Catalina passed away at the age of 15. I had the other two cats until they both passed within 7 months of each other. I miss having pets, but have decided to take a break before bringing in more companions. I plan to adopt two at once, so they’ll be pals, hopefully there will be peace that way.

  21. I’ve always had dog’s growing up and have such good memories of all of them. My husband got me a Chihuahua when we first started dating. I named her Tequila and I loved her so much. I always referred to her as my first born ๐Ÿ™‚ She had been with us from the beginning and was the start of our little family. I remember when I had my first son and she would sneak up to him on the floor while he was having tummy time and run off with his binky. She was a good dog and put up with all my kids chasing after her and pulling her ears. She grew especially close with my oldest and they had their own unique bond. We had her for 13 years and even though the little turd refused to be fully potty train, losing her in August was difficult for all of us. Even my four year old boxer who never got along with her was lost for two weeks after she passed. I’ve thought about not having any more dogs because the loss was just to much, but I also couldn’t imagine not having furry friends in our house

  22. Aww, I love all the names- Hannibal, Jagger, Tanker… And well, we have 3 chihuahuas at home- Stinky, Smeagle and Nina. Smeagle’s super hyperactive and he always runs around in circles- sometimes, he even goes around Stinky (who doesn’t actually stink XD) who just sits down patiently. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. My husband and I lost our first furbaby kitty over the summer, and it was pretty devastating. Macey was only 9 and there were no signs that anything was wrong — she had a heart attack one day and was gone when I came home from work. I decided to volunteer at the local animal shelter to give me much-needed animal contact and help the shelter out (they have a VERY small staff and most of what they are able to do is due to the very hard work of a core group of volunteers, with lesser-involved volunteers like me making things easier). We started fostering cats to help with overcrowding at the shelter, and we actually adopted one of our fosters because we fell in love with him!

  24. I used to be terrified of dogs–like, legit debilitating fear. There was a boy who lived on the route my sisters and I took to get to elementary school who used to wait for us with his dog so they could chase us. Even on days when we deliberately changed up the route to avoid his house, he walked around the neighborhood in order to find us. Little shit.

    Anyway, I can’t even remember this, but for the longest time–all the way until high school when one of my best friends cured me of my fear–I had recurring nightmares of walking to and from school and being chased by dogs. I had no idea where these stemmed from until I mentioned them one day to my sister, and she told me about that boy who used to chase us. It was so traumatizing that even though I couldn’t consciously remember, my subconscious did and manifested into recurring nightmares.

    But like I said, one of my best friends in high school, along with her mom and their amazing dog Tasha, cured me of my fear by gently and slowly putting me closer and closer to Tasha until I was able to pet her without being terrified.

    I now own a friendly 3yo pit bull, and he’s the goofiest dog ever ๐Ÿ™‚