WILLIAMSTOWN — A friend of mine wants to adopt a pet and gave my name as a reference to the agency to which she applied, requesting a lap dog.
I never needed to submit an application and be interviewed to make a pet part of my life. We just sort of found each other.
I loved my first pet from the moment I first saw her.
I was 4 years old, and my mother and I were walking home from a department store on the avenue when the little ball of white fluff with a pink nose in the window of a pet store captured my heart.
“Momma, please, can we go in?” I said.
When we came out of the pet store, I was holding the poodle I named Ginger, after the movie star Ginger Rogers.
Many a day I rocked the sweet pup to sleep in my doll carriage.
Ginger thrived on table food, and when she raised her head from her bowl after eating spaghetti, I laughed. Her nose was red with tomato sauce.
I spoon-fed chicken broth to Ginger in what would be her final days. When she died, I cried myself to sleep.
Four years later, my eldest sister, Gloria, told of a co-worker who was looking for a home for the last in a litter of pups her Labrador retriever had birthed.
I brought that black pup home in a topless cardboard box on the subway.
Candy liked to swim in the ocean. Her black fur wet, she looked like a seal slicing through the water.
On the beach or at home, Candy liked to play tug of war, clutching in her clenched teeth one end of an old sock while I pulled on the other end.
As soon as I opened the door of the kitchen cabinet where we kept Ginger’s favorite treat, Yummies, she would wag her tail.
It was not Candy that awakened me one morning by licking my toes, but a German shepherd.
“Momma,” I cried out.
Unbeknownst to me, while I was sleeping, Father, who worked as a pier hand for the Hudson River Day Line in the summer, had brought home the German shepherd he had rescued from the Hudson River. The poor dog obviously had been abused, her body covered with welts.
Father named her Queenie and kept her with him in the workers’ living quarters at the pier until summer ended and he returned home and to his job as a physical education swim instructor in a public school.
Mother encouraged Father to find a more suitable home for Queenie than our apartment in the city.
“She needs space to run,” Mother said. In time, we said a sad goodbye to Queenie, who was going to live in the country with friends of my father.
Next, Candy would have to share my attention with a newborn kitten I found at my best friend’s doorstep when I went to call for her. Mother and I walked to the drugstore to buy an eye dropper with which to feed milk to the kitten I could hold in one hand.
We swaddled her in our thickest towels in a shoebox and placed it beneath the stove.
When the kitten had grown into an adult cat, which we called Mittens (because her paws were white), Mother decided it was time to find her a new home.
“Mittens will be happy living in the butcher shop,” Mother said, “and you will be able to visit her.”
Now, the only pet in my life, Fido, is nearly 30 years old.
A cardboard replica of a terrier, Fido was a gift from my son Christoper when he found out that residents of the condominium where I live are not allowed to have real dogs.
So, when my friend’s request to adopt a lap dog is granted, I will especially enjoy spending time in her home. I wonder what kind of treats her dog will like.