My Unique Pets
Cats and dogs are wonderful and they make delightful pets—but why stop there?
When I was about four years old, I had a very unusual pet—a baby skunk. It was a beautiful skunk: coal black with a white stripe down his back and little bushy tail. I named him Stinky. My dad, a fun-loving preacher, saw him sitting alone on the side of the road as we were driving to a fellowship meeting. To my mother’s horror, Dad stopped, picked up the baby skunk, and safely tucked him away inside the hubcap of the tire that was mounted to the rear of our car. My all-knowing dad knew skunks had to mature before they knew how to spray their horrible musk. Early the next morning, Dad performed surgery and removed Stinky’s musk bag. Dad and I nursed him back to a full recovery.
Stinky was an adorable and beautiful pet. He loved to play with a little red ball from our game of Jacks. He also liked to hide under the couch cushions—which made us cautious of sitting down too quickly. My favorite thing about Stinky was hearing him scurry to the door squeaking as loudly as he could when he would hear us returning to the house. He was a clean and lovable pet but met with an early demise because a naughty boy broke his leg—and my little heart!
I once had a Manx. A Manx is in the cat family but very different in nature and body. I called mine “Wild Child,” which was a very fitting name for his bend toward wild. How he came to be mine is another story!
Wild Child had a short, stubby tail and back legs similar to a rabbit. He ran with a little hop. Wild he was! And always skittish around anyone other than me. We had our own thing going. An early riser, I would pour my first cup of coffee and then open the back door where Wild Child would be waiting. He would dart in and run through the kitchen, the dining room, and living room which would give me time to get to my recliner, sit down, and spread a towel on my lap. He would then jump in my lap, snuggle down, and lie very quietly while I had my morning devotion time. When I had finished, he would jump down and go to the back door. Every day I was home we would repeat the ritual. As far as I know, no one else ever held my Wild Child. He belonged to me. It was a sad day after a few years when I opened the door and Wild Child wasn’t there. My dear husband searched the woods and drove the roads but he was never found.
And then I had a pet dove—a beautiful white dove named Fletcher. Fletcher loved being part of the family. When his cage door was opened, he would fly all around the house and perch wherever he pleased. (We discovered Band-Aids served well as diapers for him, and he didn’t seem to mind wearing one.) Fletcher seemed to enjoy the company of people, often landing on a shoulder, finger, head, or near wherever we were working.
The one thing Fletcher didn’t like was for anyone to read the newspaper. He would land on it and fiercely peck at it until it was put away. Holding him as much as we did soiled his white feathers, so very carefully I would wash the top layer of his feathers and then set him under a lamp where he would stay until he was dry.
Fletcher traveled with us often. One day at my parents’ house, he was hung out on the back patio for some fresh air. Apparently we did not secure the bottom of the cage well. We were in for a sad discovery: the bottom of the cage had fallen out and Fletcher was gone!
I also had a pet white mouse named Minnie. One evening, Reverend Nathaniel Urshan came to have supper with us and he helped me catch her when she got out of her cage.
My sister, Billie Lambert, had a tiny pet turtle for several years. He recognized his name—or at least her voice. While making a trip with her on a plane, he escaped his container. The flight attendant made an announcement: “We have discovered a stowaway. If any of you are missing a tiny turtle, he was found walking down the aisle.”
In my long life I have enjoyed many pets in addition to those above including three cats, four Dalmatians, and one lovable mutt. So why stop with cats and dogs? God made many wonderful animals!
Thetus Tenney is the wife of T. F. Tenney. She has been active in ministry for over sixty years. Thetus loves God, family, and friends. She is mother to two, grandmother to five, and great-grandmother to eight. She enjoys gardening and teaching.