There was a time in my youth when I thought I would grow up to become a veterinarian. Animals were my friends…the ones I could tell my secrets to because I knew I wouldn’t be judged or laughed at. Now that I think about it, my mother displayed a lot of patience with her youngest child. She never knew what I might bring home next, but I don’t remember her ever telling me I COULDN’T have a certain animal around the house. Maybe it was because she grew up on a farm and remembered the connection between child and beast. Or maybe she thought she was helping to encourage my dreams of being a vet by allowing me to learn more about the animals I brought home….I don’t know, but I had A LOT of different critters hanging out at my house…
Dogs…there was Jenny, Penny, and Chi Chi. I don’t remember what type of dog Jenny was…possibly a beagle mix…but she was the first four legged friend I remember. Chi Chi was a Chihuahua who loved to eat the acorns she would find around the neighborhood and Penny was part of my childhood for about 12 years until she decided to leave one day when she knew the end was in sight.
Pigeons…I told you all about Christy before but if you haven’t heard her story you can read it here. When she returned with her extended family, I ended up with about 30 pigeons instead of one to take care of.
Bobwhite quail…For awhile I was raising a few quail. I think my father brought them home one day and soon I added them to my menagerie.
Rabbits..I have memories of my mother raising rabbits for food when I was very young but thankfully when I got older and started raising some of my own for pets, they never ended up in the stock pot! I used to bring one of the white rabbits and Christy in the house just to see them try to walk on the linoleum.
Box turtles…living near the swamps like I did growing up, there were all kinds of critters in the area to turn into pets. We would go for a Sunday drive…not necessarily to commune with nature but to check fishing lines and other traps we set along the canals as a way to supplement the food we put on the table. Sometimes we would find a small turtle and I would bring it home.
Crawfish…crawfish? Yep. My father would bring home 300 pound sacks of live crawfish for a crawfish boil. Janet and I would select our favorites and have races or see how long they would hang with their claws from bits of string.
There was certainly no shortage of beasties to hang out with when I was growing up. I would shower them with love and attention and they shared with me a connection with Nature. As I got older, I ended up with only one critter around me…hearing all my secrets, sharing recliner space, and keeping me company as I pay tribute to the beastly menagerie of my childhood.
International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.