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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Stripes Of Our Pets & Dr. Seuss


Lulu.  Buzz.  Spots.  Stripes.

That’s the dead pet roll call for the past decade – all since my son was born.  We still have Daisy, a sweet English Bulldog with some good bark left in her.  But we lost our most recent pet while on a family vacation and it always saddens me to tell my kids another living creature no longer resides with us.

Stripes was a fish who lived about 15 months, outliving Spots, another fish, by about 6 months.  The kids wanted fish.  I never cared for fish.  I only knew about goldfish that die after a week.  It amazed me to see Stripes live so long, though so short compared to humans.

I hated cleaning out his bowl.  I started out cleaning it once a week, then every other week, then once a month, and then every five weeks – or longer.  Ironically he died a few days after I cleaned his bowl.  Maybe living in squalor was better for the little guy and I screwed up by freshening up his house.  Perhaps he had a broken heart, waiting for his family to return from its vacation.  Who knows?

What do you do with a dead pet?  We cremated our pugs, Lulu and Buzz, and sprinkled the ashes at a pet cemetery. Actually, I think I have some of Buzz’s ashes in a garage.

Spots died last January.  My sons and I tried to dig up the ice-cold sand by a local beach and we were able to lower him in a box about a foot deep.  He’s so close to the water, but not quite swimming in it.

I remember when my childhood pet, a rabbit, died.  I biked him over to a park that I played baseball at and tried to bury him under home plate.  But the ground of winter was too cold to pierce.  So I left him on the plate – in a box.  I imagine he ended up in the landfill somewhere.

The whole burial thing – for humans – seems like a waste.  The land should be used for the living.  I can’t recall the last time I visited relatives in the graveyard.  I have their memories, photos, and for some, videos.  That’s how they stay alive and relevant – by thinking of them, talking about them, and living out their best advice.

Stripes, wherever you end up, thanks for being a loyal pet.  You were no dog, but you had a special way about you.

When we got word that Stripes was sideways we didn’t dare tell the kids until we got home.  Why ruin a vacation over something you can’t do anything for?

As the moment approached and my wife broke the news to the kids, they paused to say they were sorry to see him go, but in the same breath came requests for a replacement pet.  They entertained all kinds of creatures, including a fish and another dog.  As long as they don’t say cat, we’ll be fine.

Kids are resilient.  They have a lot of love to give and if Stripes isn’t there to receive it, they are ready to move on and give it to another pet.

Maybe we’ll consult a new book from Dr. Seuss, What Pet Should I Get?  Never heard of it?  The long-lost manuscript was uncovered by his widow, Audrey Geisel, and will be released July 28 from Random House.  By the way, don’t forget to celebrate his birthday – and National Education Association Read Across America Day -- on March 2nd.

When a pet falls it makes you think of all the pets that came before.  For me, there was Crackers, Dusty, Patty, and Tyrone – parakeets.  There were rabbits, goldfish, turtles and my first dog, Brandy, a basset hound that didn’t become mine until I was 26.  

No doubt there will be new pets – one pretty soon – and more deaths to come – and in between, great memories of the creatures we share our lives with.  Hug your pet tonight – or clean its bowl.  It’s the least you can do.  Goodbye, Stripes.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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