Favorite Childhood Pets

Growing up, my parents had a lot of animals.  My favorite pets were between a dog that was a golden retriever/Irish setter mix that my father had named after my cousin’s mom and a cat.


We had a LOT of dogs.  The mix that was my favorite was around for many years.  She was mine.  For my brother we had an English Setter named Waldo that was the result of a trip to Kentucky when I was in second grade.  I remember that one a little more than when we got my dog because of the tobacco that we were given to bring back for show and tell.  It was a family road trip to pick up the dog – which was rare for our family.  Road trips included my dad singing Purple People Eater – and amusing us for hours with us questioning him about the blue light that kept going off (bright lights that used to be controlled by the foot switch).  We also had a little black and white dog called Scudder, he was another favorite was part of the three amigos with my brother’s dog and mine.  Scudder was what looked like a terrier mix.

Besides having a few other dogs, including one that had to have a CSection at one point while having puppies and a few that came and went so fast they didn’t get names – our final favorite dog was Butter.  Butter was a Dashund (weiner dog) that came in a pair with Peanut. At the time I really didn’t get the name. It wasn’t until years later when my husband pointed it out that I finally got it.  Peanut had an issue with his ear shortly after showing up and it swelled up.  My father’s solution was to pop it and get the puss out.  Of course the dog bit him….  My dad’s big rule was that none of the dog’s could bite us, so he had to find a new home.  I’m fairly certain that is what really what happened… Butter on the other hand stayed to keep us company.  The only thing she ever bit was Robby’s dog Waldo.  Waldo, even though he was a big dog, was afraid of her for the rest of time.  I remember wanting Butter to sleep with me and my mother’s rule was that I couldn’t lift her.  So I would pat the bed and call and do everything I could until she would find a way up into the bed (I had a high bed).  Somehow that dog would do it.  So she would sleep with me.  After my Grandmother lost her second husband, she was lonely though…. So Butter went to stay with her.  Butter would chew up anything not in the laundry basket and had a few quirky tendencies, but she was a fun dog!   I’ll never forget when she would go to the pond and swim how her tail was spin like a propeller…


Starting at about 2, my parents realized I was really allergic to a lot of things.  They had left me with my cousin Joellyn to babysit and I had decided to play with the cats.  My allergic reaction was so bad my parents rushed me to the doctor.  Years later I begged for a cat though.  Our cats were outdoor cats because of my allergies, but I loved having a cat. I named one Triple Trouble and called it TT..  The rest have names that have slipped my mind over the years.  I do remember a big yellow cat that must have been named something like Garfield that climbed my face one day when I insisted on carrying it out to show friends who had brought a dog over.

TT was a gray cat and for some reason I think that cat might have stayed in the house at least part of the time.  More recently we allowed our middle son to get a cat that he named Spy.  I tend to call it Evil as a nickname, but it stayed here until my little one was born.   Spy was the same gray as TT.  Spy is name living on the farm – really living on the farm in Illinois.  I take a picture every time I visit.  That cat has gotten old and seems to be king of the porch at my parents.  Spy was the oddest cat when living here.  He would play fetch with whiffle balls,  turn off and on lights, chase lasers, and only drink running water.  What got him sent to live at the farm was his desire to hunt and attack people by surprise.  With the new little one we had decided that he had to find a new home at the farm.


Sometime before second grade my dad agreed to get me a horse.  He really didn’t like horses (AT ALL), but he got one for me.  It was beautiful.  I’ve loved horses ever since, though it was the only horse I’ve ever owned.  I named it Puff… yes another thing that I didn’t really get where I got the name until recently when my husband reminded me of the song Puff the Magic Dragon.  Also didn’t get what that song was about.  For the first few years of my life we lived in a trailer by my Aunt Margaret’s.  The back part was a barn yard, so the horse stayed there.  The only day I have a vague memory of was my parents putting my brother and I on the horse and leading it around the barnyard.  Something, probably a dog, walked in front of the horse causing it to panic.  My dad grabbed the horse, my mom grabbed my brother…. I fell.

After we moved to the Illk house that my parent’s got from Ralph Goodrich it was a little while before the horse moved to follow us.  But after a while my dad did build a pin for the horse.  Puff had been broken to ride by my dad’s friend Rick Lane, but would try to rub me off whenever we were near anything.  Most of my time riding was instead at my friend Vicky’s house, whose dad had his own rodeo arena in their yard.

I remember coming home from my grandmother’s one day to just find Puff (and my brother’s horse Daisy) gone. My dad ha. d decided to load them up and send them away.  I do hope sometime I’ll be able to get a horse again.  Maybe one that’s a little better trained for riding, but I’d love to have a horse when we get back to the farm….


While living in the trailer, for a short time, my mother was given a lamb.  My mom raised it with a bottle, let it sleep at the end of my bed, and treated it like a dog.  My dad docked it’s tail and it roamed the yard like a dog for a while after it became an adult.  Somewhere there is a picture of my brother with mud on his face where the lamb had decided his hair looked like hay.  My mom has a story of a sales person being confused by the ‘dog’ that had joined the group of dogs to be petted at the door while he was trying to sell her something.  Back then people came to the door with everything from vacuum cleaners (Kirby) to encyclopedias… and yes my parents bought them sometimes – my parents even bought a TV once off the back of a truck that came to our door!

and more oh my!

Besides all the others, we also had everything from Buffalo, Fallow Deer, Ferrets, and lots more.  The bigger animals like the Buffalo and Deer were fun, but more the type of pets like you see in a zoo.  Some of the smaller ones like the ferrets were only at our house for a short visit. – I think the ferret was ours for a weekend.  We also would get everything from chickens to calves that we call pets, but would later become dinner.  One pair even became named lunch and dinner.

Buffalo and Deer and Snakes Oh My!

Growing up we had a lot of strange animals (no snakes actually, though we found quite a few)….   My dad would hear about something and run and get some animals. During grade school dad heard Bambi and Iabout a person with a collection of animals and decided he wanted one. We all loaded up and ran in to get what we could AND came home with a deer….  Pictured to the left is Bambi.  He was friendly and as long as he didn’t have antlers on, we could interact inside the fence.

My dad would try all sorts of things though.  At one point we had a crow that my dad found that would ride around on Bambi’s antler’s.  It had an injured wing, so the crow was perfectly content to ride around.  After a while my dad got more deer and we had a whole menagerie.

These were Fallow Deer, indigenous to Germany, and I’d swear my dad’s goal was to use them as lures to get deer to come closer while deer hunting.  We would have the local game warden visit each year to make sure ours in captivity were legal and not white tail (local deer).  Deer can jump amazingly high, so my father had high fences for them made out of old grain bins.  The only escape I remember took 6 men to get the deer back in the pen, and I remember the deer standing with all 6 on it’s back.

While picking up Bambi we also got to see an old monkey named SOB (mean! and abused) and some honey bears.  I wanted them SO bad at the time. My father tried later to trade for the honey bears but couldn’t make a deal.   I remember the visit by the guy with the bears (they are little bears), and the bears got loose in his truck and locked him out while he was dropping off deer at the time.

SOB ended up taken from his owner and became a test subject for the University of Illinois.  Even with all the odd animals we had and the quirky behavior my dad would never have abused an animal.  Even a dog we had (Peanut, and yes the matching dog was Butter) that bit my dad while he was trying to help with an infected ear, ended up going to a family with no kids.  The dog really had been ‘provoked’, so it wasn’t the dogs fault – and my dad knew it!

Later my dad and a friend tried Beefalo and decided it was GOOD! So they ran out and got two buffalo.  We got the girl who my brother and I named Buffy.  She was added to the herd at our house. Pictured below is my mother with the buffalo feeding chickens from the look of it.

scan0136It’s funny, at the time, although we all had a healthy respect for the animals and knew what each could do and when… we were in and out of the cages to feed them all the time. I’m sure I didn’t think twice about standing there to take this picture and I’m sure my mother fed the chickens, gathered eggs, and fed buffy and the deer like this a million times.

Buffy escaped once in my memory.  An owl got into the chicken coop and couldn’t get out.  As it flapped trying to get out through the top whole (an old grain bin top that had been cut off) – Buffy got scared and exited through the fence.  I’m sure that was a site for all the cars coming up the road.  Note: My parents do live on a dead end road and knew everyone around, but still a buffalo in the road on your way home ha
s to be a surprise.

IMG_9400Now as my dad’s memory goes, talking about animals is a way to connect.  Seeing deer, a snake, or the fact that my son decided to make a pet out of a frog he found at their house is a great talking point with my dad.  These deer were in my parents field! I do wish I had a way to show my dad pictures, I’m thinking I should move them onto my iPad to show him an image that he can see better – maybe put together a slide show of the things that he would find interested.  Konnor’s new frog, Konnor’s toad, the deer by the house, even his dogs (did I mention we had 32 dogs at one time growing up!)

We did have a few other unusual animals for short stints, but they always moved on quickly.  Everything from a ferret that tried to use a litter box in the kitchen to a a swimming pool filled with fish.  My father ended up with a pond filled with catfish that were trained to come to the sound of his footsteps so that he could feed them dog food!