Monday, October 21, 2013


Happy Monday morning to all! I've got a bad cold and cup of tea. It's foggy outside my window and I like it like that. I'm very excited today, because ... today is the day before tomorrow, and tomorrow is the day that my favorite book of the year is coming out! I've mentioned The Twistrose Key here before, but I always seem to be rushing, and I haven't yet told you anything about it! 

In honor of its imminent publication, I decided to do A GIVEAWAY. Two copies of The Twistrose Key are up for grabs! And all you have to do is, in the comments section ...

... tell me about a beloved childhood pet.

Why a beloved childhood pet? Here's the synopsis of The Twistrose Key:

Something is wrong in the house that Lin's family has rented; Lin is sure of it. The clocks tick too slowly. Frost covers the flowerbed, even in a rain storm. And when a secret key marked "Twistrose" arrives for her, Lin finds a crack in the cellar, a gate to the world of Sylver.

This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal who ever loved a child. Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush. But together they must find the missing Winter Prince in order to save Sylver from destruction.

They are not the only ones hunting for the boy this night. In the dark hides a shadow-lipped man, waiting for the last Winter Prince to be delivered into his hands.

Exhilarating suspense and unforgettable characters await the readers of this magical adventure, destined to become a classic.

Well, as haunting and lovely as that sounds, it cannot begin to prepare you for the exquisite, lilting loveliness and completely original imagination of Tone Almhjell. Read the synopsis HERE and you'll begin to get a notion.

(No, really. Go read it. I'll wait.)

*whistles, files nails*

(No, actually, I'm rereading it too, because I looooove it. Troll-hunting secrets and a skeleton-legged house, fluffy rice pudding with raspberry sauce, old folk songs, and Rufus, the beloved pet in question. *wipes eyes* Okay, I'm back.)

But that chapter is barely even a gateway for what's to come, for which you will have to read the book. When Lin crosses over into the realm of Silver, it's the kind of fantasy you want to climb right inside of.  This book is the perfect winter fantasy escape, and also a perfect Christmas gift for the 8- to 12-year-old in your life, not to mention anybody else who loves beautiful writing and delicious, evocative fantasy. 

Full disclosure: As I mentioned in the previous post, Tone and I have been friends for ... maybe five years now? (Wow!) We met on my blog, actually, and I got to know her writing through group writing exercises all while she was busily writing this phenomenal-sounding novel in Norwegian. Because, oh yes, Tone is Norwegian, and lives in Oslo. But I got a taste of her writing in English, and she would tease these amazing details of her Norwegian novel, and I was dying to read it. I thought I would have to wait forever, but fate intervened. With some interest from an international book agent, Tone took to translating her novel into English, and I was one of her early, happy readers.

I was even happier when I got a chance to introduce her to my wonderful agent, Jane Putch, who signed her and sold this book to Dial/Penguin. So we're sisters now. Agency sisters :-) Here we are in California this spring, when we met in person for the first time:

Read it. Read it. Read it. Order it. Order it AND enter the giveaway, below, and then if you win, you'll have an extra copy to give to a friend! 


I'm thinking this up on the spot, so ... hm. Just tell me something lovely or funny or moving or anything you want about a beloved childhood pet. If you were not so lucky to have a beloved pet as a child, then I give you free license to invent one, since we are all pro-fiction around here. The winners will just be the ones I like the best, based on what remains to be seen. Sorry if that's vague.

This giveaway is open internationally.

Either include an email address in your post, or if you don't want to do that, be sure to check back here for winners. Maybe next week? Maybe in a few weeks? I don't know how long I'll keep it open. Like my contest-running skills? Maybe they should hire me to organize the Olympics :-)

That's all for now. Oh, and ...



Krystel said...

When I was 2 we got a new dog and named her Akita. I grew up with this dog. She was my buddy and followed me everywhere. She was he sweetest dog. She always knew when we were coming home and she would be sitting there waiting for us to come through the door. But I suspect she only waited for us because she had this silly quirk, she loved for us to toss our car keys just so she could lick them. I never understood that, or why she liked it so much. Then when I was 13, I woke up to find her in the hall and her back legs had gave out on her. I knew it was time. So we took her to the Vet, I placed mom's car keys in front of her, took off her collar as she licked them and then she was gone. I have been blessed with many good animals in my life, but she was the most precious.

Congrats and Happy Book Birthday!!

Anonymous said...

The first German Shepherd, Buddy, we had when I was a toddler (he was already getting old when I was born) was terribly scared of thunder storms and we had left him outside one day when my mom took us to the grocery store with her because it hadn't looked stormy at all when we left. It was on of those storms that just unexpectedly (like they usually do in Northeast Florida). Well, when we got home we discovered that Buddy had eaten his way through the back door enough to slide inside the house. My mom was so mad. But it has always served as one of those crazy pet stories we like to keep telling people. Still the craziest I can think of. I really loved Buddy, too. He would stand guard over my sister and I when we played outside as toddlers, but he passed when I was around 4 years old. Even though he was scared of thunder, he loved my sister and I and would never let anything bad happen to us. His best animal friend was our old tabby cat, Sammy. Sammy also passed shortly after Buddy, but the pair of them were thick as thieves despite being a cat and a dog. They even ate each other's food (Sammy actually preferred dog food to cat food :P). Guess I should stop here. My email is

Unknown said...

I raised Ping from the time she was a fluffy yellow duckling until she was just over a year old. She was a white and her wings, as it turned out, were deformed; she couldn't fly. I adored her, and she loved me right back. I would get home from school and throw open the sliding glass door that led to the backyard, and she would run to me from whatever corner she'd been in, quacking and quacking. And, hand to heart, she would kiss my face all over. Occasionally I would fill up my baby bathtub with water, and put her in it. This made her unfathomably happy.

When I was eight, Ping swallowed a wasp, which stung the inside of her throat, causing it to swell. Ping asphyxiated and we buried her beneath the giant agave plant in the back yard.

I still miss her. And I smile at every duck that crosses my path.

Unknown said...

Oh! I signed in after posting my story about Ping, but am showing up as Anonymous. My name is Emma Alvarez Gibson (e AT emmaalvarezgibson DOT COM).

BeingPerry said...

When I was in the first grade my mother had cancer. ( she is fine now 21 years later). For a time I lived with my cousins because it was difficult for my father to care for both me and my sick mother.

All 3 of my cousins were a couple of years younger than me. One day their father saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road. It was a mamma raccoon and her baby was sitting beside her very near the road.

Fearing for the baby raccoon's safety my cousins father picked up the baby and brought him home.
( I don't remember what we called him at the time but for the story now we will refer to him as Frankie.)

I don't think I had ever seen anything more adorable in my seven years of life.
We had to feed Frankie from a baby bottle. We got to make him a bed in his little cardboard box and my younger cousins were always trying to give him toys.

Frankie would follow us as we ran around the yard playing and nip at our ankles. Though my uncle tried to explain to us that he was a wild animal the kids didn't care, he could do no wrong;he was our best pal.

I sneaked him into my bed a few times against my uncles wishes. He insisted Frankie stunk and was not a house pet. Not to mention he would keep me up all night borrowing under the blankets and tumbling around the room.

Eventually the ASPCA came and took Frankie from us. My uncle explained that Frankie was a wild animal and that he belonged in the wild. He would never get to go back to his real home if we had kept him.

Of course we were all upset, but we got over it and since then I have had quite a few pets. I don't know if you have ever fed a bottle to a baby raccoon or had one lick your chin and nose, but if you have you will understand why this little guy (who we only had about 3 weeks) will always have a special place in my heart.

BeingPerry said...

Sorry forgot my e-mail its

BeingPerry said...

Also sorry one more PS I failed to mention that the ASPCA came and took Frankie because my Uncle called them to take him. He said it was time and we had kept him as long as we could. I didn't want anyone to get the wrong impression from that sentence( sorry)

LeAnn said...

I grew up on a farm, and we had a dog named Bingo. Yes, B-I-N-G-O, Bingo. He was the best farm dog ever. All you had to do was say, "Sick 'em, boy!" and he'd run around the cattle, nipping at their heels, to get them to fall in line. I didn't have to move an inch.

But he was also the best friend when I needed someone to comfort me. Like the time I was learning to ride a bike without training wheels and I ran into the electric fence. After being shocked for a bit I ran away crying, but he came right over and licked away my tears.

I miss Bingo. But I won't forget him.

Danielle said...

We had a big black lab named Bud and one day we came home to find my dad's truck stolen and Bud gone along with it! Me and my brothers were devastated, and my dad tried to make us feel better by saying that Bud was so friendly and un-watchdog-ish, that the thieves probably just invited him along. It didn't really help, but what could we do? The cops hadn't found anything yet.
A few nights later, I was downstairs getting a drink and ran up to wake my parents because I had heard a chain or something outside. Dad went out and there was Bud! It was the first and only time he came into the house (we lived on a farm) - he was so happy to be back with our family! Bud got loved on a lot that night and was around for many, many more years.

Connie Onnie said...

My grandma found this lovely dog by her house she had beautiful snow white fur, a long tail that curved into a C and she was as gentle as can be. We took her in and although I had five older brothers I got to name her, I called her Princess. When my aunt and uncle came to visit my aunt fell in love with Princess and convinced my mom to let her have Princess because she would take better care of her. Which was true she did, but she changed her name to Claude. Although my aunt is perfectly nice I always kind of thought of her as my wicked aunt.
I had two other pets as a young child a chicken named Princess Leia and a kitten named Sparkle Eyes.
I am so excited to read The Twistrose Key! connieonnie at gmail dot com

Q said...

My family is not a pet family. I used to tell people that the biggest pets I'd ever had were my little brothers. We kids were allowed fish, and might have been allowed a reptile if we'd ever figured out the logistics, but my dad does not like mammals as pets and my mom does not like birds, so we never had a cat or a dog or a parakeet, despite the fact that I have always loved animals.

But one summer when I was four or so (I think), we caught a praying mantis outside somewhere, and after some deliberation, we found some kind of terrarium (I think––I was only four) and kept her. I named her Vivian (one of the first and only battles I won against my older sister, who favored another name) and we fed her crickets we bought at the pet store.

Most people don't know this, but praying mantises make excellent pets. Contrary to what people seem to think, they can't hurt you: their forelegs aren't strong enough to do anything but grip your finger. Once they get used to you and don't think you're going to hurt them, they won't fly away anymore and will quite contentedly wander around on your hands, or sit complacently on your head. They don't smell bad, either, and you'd be surprised at how quickly you become attached to the little creatures, enough that their general lack of cuddliness isn't a problem. Unfortunately, they're only big enough to keep starting in August or so, and they lay their eggs and die when the frosts come, which is unfortunate. At the same time, if you are looking for a pet without a multi-year commitment, praying mantises are even better than fish!

My mom loved putting Vivian in our small potted lemon tree and watching her wander around, blending in with the spines and leaves. Everyone loved watching her hunt: we'd put a cricket in her terrarium and wait for her to notice it. When she did, she would freeze suddenly and wait for the cricket to come near enough, then STRIKE. No cricket was safe from Viv's flashing forelimbs and chewing mandibles, and my four-year-old ecologist self was always enraptured. I think keeping praying mantises as pets in the years we found them is one of the major reasons that I think insects are interesting, not icky, which I am grateful for because OH BOY are insects EVER interesting!

If you ever catch a praying mantis and want to keep her (or him, but females are easier to find), all you need is gentle hands, a terrarium with sticks and leaves to climb on, and access to live crickets. I wouldn't try to keep a praying mantis that was not an adult, because juveniles tend to be too small to eat the store-bought crickets meant for small reptiles, so look for praying mantises that have wings.

My family has caught other praying mantises––Jade and Critter and Beast and several others who came to the family after I left for college––but Viv is still my favorite.

I'll be watching for an announcement whenever you make it!

Anonymous said...

Hello :)
The first family pet I can remember having is my dog Cara, which in bulgarian roughly translates into "queen" - the name is kind of a compromise between me (i wanted to name her "princess") and my Dad who wanted her to have a unique name :)
I have so many memories of her - the first one of her being so tiny she could fit in a small basin and then she grew up so big that my brother and I used to get on her back and ride her as if she was a horse!
I remember when she was drugged by thieves ones when all she was doing was her job of keeping our home safe... I was very worried about her then..
And once when I was falling down a slope and she bit the end of my sleeve and pulled me up so I wouldn't fall, she used to be my hero! :) I loved her so much <3
Now I am really sad that I didn't appreciate her that much when she was alive and I really miss her... The day she was dying she hid from us but I found her and I cried and I appologized if I had ever hurt her... It was a really sad day for all of my family and we will never forget or replace her <3


Kaja said...

I had two pets growing up - and both lived really long lives for their kind.
One was a gerbil named Zivcek (I'm Slovenian and I guess the name would roughly translate as Nervous), because he was the fastest gerbil to ever live: he had a knack for escaping under furniture. He and his brother, who belonged to my brother, lived for 4.5 years, which is really quite an age for gerbils.

My other pet was a stick insect named Thor. I was 11 at the time and had just been reading about Norse gods. He (well, I'm assuming it was a he) lived for more than a year on fresh raspberry leaves and was buried with honors in the forest when he passed away.

The book looks great, by the way, will be reading it regardless!

Jenn said...

I had the chicken pox on Christmas when I was five (worst timing ever) and in addition to a pretend doctor's kit (creepy parental foresight?) I got a little terrier who at the time was just as spotted as I was, so I named him Freckles. I loved him immediately, but by the end of the week all my siblings were as sick as I was, and no one had time to pay Freckles any attention. My gramma decided she would take care of him for us (five year old logic: Gramma is stealing my dog.) She never gave him back either.

So Freckles had an idyllic puppyhood out in the country where he could run as much as he liked, and because I wanted to see MY dog, so did I. (I might have also wanted to see my Gramma, though it took a lot of explaining from my parents for me to get over the dog theft incident. She never did give him back.) Either way, he was the BEST. DOG. EVER. We would play outside, and he was so little that I carried him around in an icecream bucket with a blanket in it and we got up to all sorts of adventures. He was always telling on me though, and didn't understand hide-and-seek very well, and seemed to think he needed to administer CPR if I decided to lie down in the grass, and if I threw a ball or frisbee for him to fetch, well, I should probably go get myself a new ball or frisbee because he wasn't letting go of it until he had killed the flying invader completely dead. He fainted if you had to trim his nails (like, swooned) and seemed to think he was also a chicken (my gramma raised them) rather than a dog, but I loved him and told him everything, right up until I was sixteen and we moved to a different state. So Gramma still has my Christmas present, but I suppose she needs him a little more than I do.

Selena said...

Growing up I had a little white mare named Misty. She had a grey nose and a pink blaze on her face that shone through her white coat. In the summer I would spend hours riding and exploring the country side and forests around our house. We would pretend to be princesses looking for fairies and sprites. Misty was my best friend and most beloved pet of all time. I had her until she died of old age. Even though I'm an adult and mother I still have a lock of her mane and her picture on my mantle. I miss her even to this day. I really hope there is some magical land for beloved pets and that we will be reunited someday.

Lucie MacAulay said...

My first family pet was Piwacket, a black cat named after the witch cat in Bell, Book and Candle. She was black and had been in a car accident when my Dad found her and took her to the vet. Like was my family's habbit, we took her in. She was moody and hissedand hardly liked to be touched by anyone but my father, but on occasion, I would wake up with her sleeping at my feet, or she would settle on my lap and curl up. And when I couldn't sleep because I was scared of the dark, she would come in and sit on my bed or under it. So I was never scared of monsters under the bed, since my parents had always taught me that cats can protect you from monsters. I love her a lot, though she's very old now.

Anonymous said...

My first pet was a Rhodesian Ridgeback-mix named Chance who my mother had before I was born. I never appreciated Chance enough, because she never begged for attention, but we missed her after she died.
My next pets were two dogs, Golden Retrievers, who I suggested we get as therapy dogs for my brother's anxiety disorder. I believe that the dogs (more than his therapists) were the ones who grounded and saved him. No matter that Golden Retrievers are omnivores with a special liking for plastic containers--I can't call them bad and honestly mean it.

Unknown said...

My childhood pet wasn't necessarily beloved, but it certainly was something. As a kid, I had a chinchilla named Cheddar. Yes, chinchillas are the fur balls that everyone wants to squeeze and cuddle. However, what people don't know is that they are very feisty. Mine was no exception. I didn't despise the poor thing, just found it as an enjoyable companion. My favorite thing to do with Cheddar was to give it a dust bath; when dirty, chinchillas like to role in dust to clean themselves. The whole thing was a spectacle to behold and I always ended up laughing my butt off. A great thing about chinchillas is that, when tired, they will cuddle into any curve/crook of your body. It was absolutely adorable. The bad side to the experience was that when disturbed from their slumber, they are most likely to bite whomever is disturbing them. Including any person trying to cuddle with them further. Ouch! After a few good years with Cheddar, my parents promised to get me what I always wanted; a puppy. The issue was that I had to give Cheddar back to the owners in order to get the pup. I did, and now I have a puff ball of a puppy that I love to pieces. Maybe Cheddar was beloved, but I can only see that now, after the fact the chinchilla is gone.

Toni Elise said...

When I was six, I picked out a ginger kitten with long, tickling whiskers and brought him home. He was supposed to be the family pet, but we adopted him a few weeks before my birthday. I knew he was really mine. We named him Whiskers after his defining characteristic, and he grew up with me. When the kids at school were cruel to me, I would go home and cuddle Whiskers. When I didn't get a date to prom and dressed up anyway, he made sure my black silk was covered in ginger fur. He was always there.

Until he wasn't. I graduated high school and was packing up to move to an out-of-state university when Whiskers got sick. The last time I saw him, he was hiding under a bed, too tired to move. I crawled up next to him and thanked him for raising me. With what little strength he had left, he stretched out his neck and licked the tears off my cheeks.

His job was done. I'd survived being a kid. I'd survived being a teenager. He died a week before I left for college. I like to pretend that he couldn't bear the thought of living in that house without me. He was always my cat.

Angelique W said...

My dad is not a big fan of animals, so my childhood was lacking in animals of the fluffy, cuddly sort. I did have one pet, though: a siamese fighter fish that I had received as a party favor at a friend's birthday. If you are not already familiar with this type of fish, you should know that they are shimmery blue, green, and purple, and they have an extravagant, cascading tail. I thought that my fish looked very proud, and with good reason, so I named it Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Darcy was a good fish, I think. He lived in the hutch over the kitchen sink, and from that vantage point could watch my Mom prepare meals and me do my homework at the table. Sometimes, when I was bored, I would get a pocket mirror from my mom's makeup bag and hold it up against the glass bowl. Siamese fighter fish puff up when they feel threatened by another fish, and the reflection would trick Mr. Darcy into inflating himself until he looked pretty ridiculous. There was no Elizabeth Bennett fish to put him in his place.

Mr. Darcy lived with us for several years. Unsurprisingly, I rarely cleaned his bowl. My mother usually took care of it. After one of these cleanings, Mom carefully transferred Mr. Darcy from his temporary abode (a clean drinking glass), back into his freshly cleaned bowl. Sadly, it seems that some soap residue remained in his bowl, as mere minutes later, he was floating on his side.

I don't think losing Mr. Darcy can compare with the loss of a beloved cat, dog, or other such animal. It's difficult to form a strong emotional bond with a fish. But, I think we all were sad to see him go. He had the usual funeral at sea which most fish undergo, and the kitchen hutch always felt like it was missing something afterwards.

Jessi said...

My family brought home an adorable black and white puppy when I was about 10. I decided to name her Oreo. My father, the most easy-going of men, asked if I could please, please reconsider. He'd happily allowed me to name our other two pets. But he didn't want to end up on the back porch yelling out "Hershey! Butterscotch! Oreo!" Two food names were enough, could I please choose something else?
So she became Pearl. And she was indeed a pearl, sweet and smart and very funny.

Katherine said...

My science teacher, Mr. Bennett, gave me a goldfish when I was in the fifth grade. I never had a fish before, and I wanted “Demo” to last. Perhaps it was because I had an enormous crush on Mr. Bennett. But one day, as I was changing the water in his tank (a flower vase, if the truth be known), Demo flopped out of transfer spoon and into the garbage disposal. Looking back, I think that perhaps I could have saved him. Now that I’m a mother, I know I wouldn’t be cowed by something as tame as a garbage disposal. I would have reached right in and yanked Demo out. But, I didn’t. Not then. Probably because fifth graders don’t make good mothers. Little Demo met his death in the garbage disposal, and Mr. Bennett moved to Omaha. I don’t think the events are connected.

PS I love your writing, Laini!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win a copy please!


You know what? I started writing about my dog Pepper and I started crying so hard I couldn't see to write anymore. He loved me when I thought no one else did. I shared all my secrets and fears with him because no one else understood. I miss him twenty plus years later and I have had fabulous dogs since then. I have two crazy, amazing rescues right now and every one of them take a piece of me when they go.

I hope I can get through the Twistrose Key. I ordered a copy because you said to. :)


Tara said...

Ok! Never had a pet but my child-free aunt always had lots around during my growing up. Have to try for this book!

Once, I was given the very serious task of walking Rocky, a white and black and brown thing with knobby knees and floppy ears and the pinkest, wetness nose, through the vast black parking lot of my family's restaurant. I was five. Rocky was taller than me. He took me for a spin on my tush, then stomach, through the entire lot for a good couple minutes in circles - giving me a good stomach burn before anyone noticed what had happened.

A few years ago, my aunt acquired brother and sister, Buddy and Bella, two white curly puffs, the kind Paris keeps in her purse, and she brought them to meet us for the first time to Christmas dinner. I, grabby hands grabbing, took hold of Buddy by his christmas bell ringing neck to coddle and introduce myself. Only to accidentally bobble him like a football in the end zone. Buddy went flying in an arc through the air and landed with a thump onto the carpet, Christmas guests aghast. For a moment Buddy didn't move and we all held our breath. Then he popped up like a reanimated zombie pup and was perky as ever, with just a sneeze and a squeak.

When I was around seven or eight I went out to my aunt's shepherd's cage, oliver, to take him out to walk. She coached me the whole way there: repeat after me: Say No when he jumps on you, Say No if he scratches. When I got there, all puddled nerves and responsibility, she intoned one final time in her well-trained dog owner voice: REPEAT AFTER ME: SAY NO. So seven year old me walked straight up to Oliver, finger pointed to his snout, and said seriously: Oliver, SAY NO. Oliver tilted his head contemplatively and my aunt roared laughing.


my email is tara8716 at g mail dot com

Anonymous said...

I grew up with dogs that weighed more than I did. My parents had St. Bernards and malamutes mostly. It's the first malamute I remember. His name was Juneau, and inspite of being a huge hairy beast of a dog, he was so gentle and kind. I could lay on top of him and pull his hair and he'd never do a thing about it.

Juneau died when I was eight and my sister was four. A few months later, a woman came over from an animal shelter to check to make sure we were a good candidate for adopting another largeish dog. She said the moment she decided we were right for the dog was when my four year old sister offered to show her Juneau's grave. We all picked flowers, took them over, and my four year old sister gave a beautiful eulogy for this dog.

A few weeks later, we got another dog. Just as huge and just as loving :) Dogs are so wonderful.

This book sounds lovely and I am excited to read it!

Unknown said...

When I was a teenager, my cat had another batch of kittens. The minute I gave them attention, the mother moved them away. Until one day, she carried them one by one up the hill.

One of those kittens was Fern. She was a fluffy black kitten who was scared of me. There was a slab of cement underneath the porch stairs where the kittens used to hide. I found a way to tame them. After the long winter, Fern was the only one to survive.

She used to follow me everywhere and she was the only cat my parents let me allow into the house. During my worst times, she was always such a comfort to me. I was never alone when there was Fern.

When I left for college, she came around the house less and less. Yet, somehow she always knew when I was to come home for a visit. My mother said she would appear the day before, and leave after I did. One day, she didn't return and her memory never left.

nheck AT natashamheck DOT com

Unknown said...

Wow. How to narrow down? Animals have always been such a vital wonder in my life that I got a degree in conservation biology & became a zookeeper for facilities that rehab or take in unreleasable wildlife. (Later turned writer. Yep, my paranormal features a zookeeper who unwittingly rescues an exiled shapeshifter.)

Atari the barn owl will always hold my affection. Of course, that's b/c he was such a horny bastard. Imprinted on humans, loved long hair, and I was his hump of choice. Good times.

Katori the tiger certainly left me breathless. And what a purr! Well, a chuff really. So sweet but hard to get too chummy with when even touching her through the chain link nearly earned me 4 broken fingers. Little forceful on the cute kitty head boop.

The furred, the feathered, scaled, and shelled. I love them all, each perfectly fitting a place in my heart.

Who I miss the most? Mef. Short for Mephistopheles. A kitten I rescued from a preteen and a microwave. For 15 years, he sat in my lap when I laughed, and when I cried... he ran to me, put a paw on each shoulder and put his forehead on my chin. And waited. Ten years later, my feline shapeshifter touches foreheads with those he shares a moment with. For you, Mef. My perfect lead man carries a little bit of you.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

And, of course, forgot my email. Too busy thinking about Mef.
wendybeck (at) gmail (dot) com

The owl in my icon picture is none other than Atari!

Anonymous said...

Growing up in a snowy Michigan village (Yes, it was so small that it was called a village--not town)our house was a haven of misfit, found, and broken pets. Runt kittens, shelter mutts, and fallen baby birds became adored and beloved lifelong friends. We even had a gigantic, midnight-colored 21 year old cat named Petey that was part bobcat.

One morning my siblings and I were playing in the yard when we heard this terrible shrieking and screaming sound. Running toward the noise, we found the next door neighbor's German Shepherd violently tormenting a mother rabbit. The rabbit was trying its hardest to fend off the dog. Screaming and crying, we shouted for our mother who attempted to scare off the dog, despite her grand stature of 4'9". Unfortunately, it was too late for the mother rabbit. As my mother found a resting place under the pines for the rabbit, she discovered the mother rabbits nest of four incredibly tiny pink baby rabbits. The mother rabbit had lost its life leading the dog away from it nest, protecting its young.

My mother wrapped the babies up in a cloth, placed them in a box, and decided to see if she could keep them alive. I can remember that she would get up every two hours through the night, walk to the back barn, and feed them with tiny bottles of milk. I can remember watching my tiny mother in her nightgown and thinking about how magical she seemed, how careful, kind, and absolutely magical she truly was.

Two of the rabbits survived into adulthood. We named them Gizmo and Stripe--like the Gremlins--for reasons I cannot explain other than we kids thought it was a great idea. They lived in our back mudroom, and would play with us in our back yard.

When they were nine, we found out that we had to move to Texas. Knowing that they would not take too well moving to an unfamiliar and HOT climate, my mother began allowing them to spend more and more time outside, adjusting to life as proper wild rabbits. Over the next few months, they spent more time out than in, and one day they went away. I would peer out the windows watching for them to return, waiting to see if they still needed me. From time to time I would swear I glimpsed them amongst the trees in the thicket.

Then we moved to Texas. I like to think about those days, and how much I learned about life. I learned about compassion and bravery, strength and determination, about loss and letting go.

I learned about what it means to be a mother, whether it be human or rabbit.


Olesya said...

Hi Laini! I'm so excited to participate in this amazing giveaway, and I'm even more excited to share my childhood pet story with you. Thank you so much for doing this! My name is Olesya, and my email is Take care, and thank you again! My childhood pet story is below:

The name of my childhood pet is Gavrik. He's an Applehead Siamese, and he is the most gorgeous cat you could ever imagine, with the bluest sapphire eyes. I got Gavrik when I was 8, almost 9 years old, and I was living in Russia (where I was born and raised). I still remember my Grandma, who worked at the elementary school (or rather its Russian equivalent) that I attended at the time, bringing him by on my break that very first day when she got him for me. He was barely a month old kitten, and I remember seeing the tiniest and most adorable ball of fur, with his face peeking out at me across the classroom. Gavrik and I essentially grew up together, side by side. We literally did almost everything together. I was a very shy, introverted child, preferring to curl up with my books in random, secluded corners (truth be told, I remain much the same to this day!), and Gavrik would always find me and curl up with me while I read. He is the smartest and most loyal cat that I've ever had the pleasure of owning. I have so many wonderful stories about Gavrik and the adventures that we've had together, making it rather hard to choose just one. But one that stands out the most, which is also one of my favorite stories to tell about Gavrik, is when he saved my Great-Grandma and I from a rat! Yes, a full-grown, huge, ugly rat! When I was growing up, my Great-Grandma and I used to spend every summer together at what is called a "dacha." A rough translation of "dacha" is probably a "summer house” of sorts - but don't picture anything fancy, and rather imagine a rough-hewn wooden cabin-like structure with an outhouse and water access outside of it across the path. One evening, my Great-Grandma and I noticed something big, dark, and hairy scatter across the floor of the hallway and into the bedrooms. With horror, we realized it was a rat! Both of us were pretty scared by that point, alone and squeamish. In the end, however, it turned out that we had nothing to fear - in less than a second, Gavrik was there, running after the rat with a determined and brave air. We tried to help him, but Gavrik did all of the work for us - he even got injured because the rat bit his paw pretty badly. It was bleeding, and I was so scared for him, but Gavrik wouldn't back down and dispatched the rat like the hero he is. My Great-Grandma and I were so proud of him and got him help right away! When my mother and I moved to the United States when I was almost 16, we had to leave Gavrik behind in the care of our relatives. Gavrik is now living out his elder days back in Russia in good hands of people who love him and take care of him. But there's not a day that passes by - and I'm really not exaggerating here - that I don't think about him at least once. I miss him dearly. Gavrik remains, to this day, my best of friends. There was a very special connection between us as we were growing up together, and I like to think that it still remains, after all these years and despite the great distance.

Commander Kip said...

My brother and I had two gerbils, one that was grey all over and a light brown one with a white splotch on her forehead. We named them Katie and Splotch, because our naming skills were so fantastic when we were six and twelve, respectively. They were sisters from the same litter. We acquired them for free because the local high school had too many gerbil babies.

They got more exercise than any other gerbils in the history of ever. We let them run around in the Playmobile castle, and they would poke their heads out of the windows and tumble through the trapdoors, which was endlessly entertaining. I also made my brother lie down fully clothed in the empty bathtub and let the gerbils climb all over him. I must have derived some sadistic sort of amusement from watching him squeal as their little claws tickled him without mercy.

They lived for six years, which is twice the average lifespan for gerbils, and then one day they turned into grouchy old ladies and tried to chew each other's legs off. We found them bleeding and squealing at each other, and we had to separate them. And then they died of loneliness. (Why do so many cute pet stories end so gruesomely?)

I still miss them, even though they always flicked their poop out of the cage when we weren't watching and made their exercise wheel squeak ferociously in the middle of the night. They were excellent stress relief and I miss having small animals around, especially now that my poor sweet dog has also passed away.

Kaye M. said...

When I was around seven, one of my mom's friends told us that her husband had been to his friend's house. This friend, who I believe was Egyptian, was raising pigeons as livestock. Yes, they were going to eat them. (This still horrifies me, but Egyptians find pigeons an absolute delicacy.) He had bought two, but had a change of heart since they were still alive.

Would we like them?

Yes. Yes, we would.

We kept them in a cardboard box in our living room. We had no idea what to do with them beyond that, as the main emotion behind us taking them on was to save them from necks being wrung and feathers plucked. We fed them seed and had them checked over.

They seemed relatively healthy, but not too happy. The younger one, barely a baby, ended up dying a few days into its stay, which broke my sister's heart. The other one grew up, and we used to let it run over the floor for a few minutes, and take it outside to exercise - I can't remember clearly, but I think its wings were clipped.

It turned out to be a rock pigeon, much like the ones you see in most metro areas. So, since my dad works in the city, he decided he would take it there and let it go. Nowadays, we know more about animals being hard to let go if they were domesticated, but back then we just drove into the city with him, let it go near a flock of pigeons outside my dad's store, and left him with it to watch it and hoped for the best.

He called a few hours later and said the other pigeons had gone up to it, and it almost seemed like they spoke. Then, they hustled it away with them.

We were a little sad to see it go, since we got a little fond of it, but we were glad that it found its own kind, and not a sad end at the bottom of the stewpot.

busylearninghome AT gmail DOT com

Lauren D. said...

Talk about the possibilities for an entry!!! To be completly honest, I never really had that special childhood pet. My family had a few pets now and then ( a dog before I was born, some fish, a rabbit), but I never really had the chance to CONNECT with any of them. That being said, when I was three my parents went to Build-A-Bear and got me a white bunny that I named Hoppy. This stuffed animal would be what I would describe as my childhood pet. To those who would argue that a stuffed animal does not count as a pet, I see where you may come from but the effect is still the same.

I didn't really have many friends growing up, so my go-to was Hoppy. She went everywhere with me that I was allowed to bring her to. Whenever I was upset I would hold her tight and she even had a little music device in her that I would fall asleep to. Everyone has a comfort that they find in life, Hoppy was both that and my friend. And years later that never changed. I remember one time, thought I cannot remember my age, I descovered that Hoppy's back seam was ripping and her music was no longer working. I was devastated, and at the next opportunity we took her to a Build-A-Bear and they sewed her back up, and was even able to change her music device. They lady at the store told me that they haven't seen a rabbit like this in years because they had decommissioned the one I had. Going to the store was the equivalent of taking a pet to the vet.

I do have a dog now, her name is Autumn and she is the most adorable dog I have ever known. And even though nothing can really compare to the actual consciousness a dog has and knowing that they love you, I imagine that if Hoppy could tell me she loved me, she would. She was there for me through an age where no one else was.
-Lauren ( )

Isobel said...

A Funny Story
When I was ten I saw a handsome rabbit in a pet store. "He's a male mini rex, four months old," the saleswoman said.
I took my new pet home. That night my family and I brainstormed name ideas.
You know the book THE THIEF LORD by Cornelia Funke? There's a scene where the aunt tells the detective her nephews' names. The younger is called Boniface. The aunt explains that Boniface's mother liked strange names. I told my mom how funny it was that a mother would name her child after his boney face. Well.
Corrected, I decided to name my rabbit after that character. Bo for short, just like in the book.
When Bo was a year old I took him to the vet. My mom filled out his patient info sheet: Bo, rabbit, male, etc. I went into the exam room with him.
"What a beautiful rabbit!" the vet said. She clipped his nails and checked his ears. Then she looked between his legs.
That is, HER legs.
Yes. The rabbit I had coexisted with for a year was actually female.

True story, all of it. Her name is still Bo, but short for Boadicea.

elliespen said...

My mother is allergic to just about anything you can think of, which meant our pet options were limited. Dogs, cats, rabbits, anything with fur was out. Snakes and lizards were out, too. She was allergic to those in the same way I am -- they cause severe nervousness and shriekage. So we had goldfish. Mine was named Goldie. (I've always been creative that way.)

So one morning in second grade I was getting ready to go to school and I heard a plop behind me. About a week earlier, a picture had fallen on top of the aquarium and broken the lid on the fishtank so that it was just sitting open, and Goldie had jumped out and was now sitting on the carpet looking very out-of-place. (Note how I avoided the obvious pun.) I tried to pick her up to put her back in but, being a fish, she was awfully slimy and unpleasant to the touch, which set off my allergies to sliminess. My mother heard me shriek, came running, and assumed that I'd found the fish just lying on the carpet. I was crying too hard to explain to her what had happened and so she carefully scooped up Goldie in the towel she was holding and went to flush her. I followed along, tears streaming down my face (this was the only pet I'd ever had).

As soon as Goldie hit the water in the bowl she started swimming around and exploring her new home. I was overjoyed. I'm not sure if my mother quite shared the feeling, though, as now that my fish was definitely alive it meant that she needed to get it out of the toilet bowl and back in the tank where it belonged. Goldie apparently really liked it in there, though, because she kept hiding from the net when my mom went to scoop her. After several minutes of this, my tears were back in full force, we were running very late for school, my mom was getting more and more frustrated by this crazy fish's attempts (and success) in eluding her, and Goldie was still in the toilet.

Eventually my mom said that we had to get me and my brother to school. I kept crying as we started to leave, and asked her to make sure not to use the upstairs bathroom, but only the downstairs one because I didn't want her to flush Goldie by accident.

I arrived at school in the depths of despair. My poor fish was going to die an ignominious death, I just knew it! I couldn't pay attention at math (not surprising; never my favorite subject) and couldn't raise any interest in spelling (surprising, actually; I quite enjoyed spelling as a second-grader), and could barely face the thought of recess. How could I be so cold-hearted as to actually go out and play when my fish was in such a fix?

Fortunately, however, my teacher came up to me at this point and told me that I had a phone call from my mother. My heart simultaneously soared and sank: Was it good or bad news? Had my fish succumbed to fate or had my mother triumphed?

Of course my mother had triumphed. And I give her even more credit for not going the "identical-replacement" route. She tells the story now that she was in the bathroom on hands and knees with the fish net thinking, "This is ridiculous. But I love my daughter. This is extremely ridiculous. But I love my daughter..." Goldie eventually was restored to her rightful home (which was then covered with saran wrap until we could find a new lid) and lived several more months before dying of natural causes. And I was able to enjoy my recess and brag about how much my mother loves me.

*Note: wow, sorry for that lengthy essay. But it's all true. My email is elliespen at gmail dot com.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Huckleberry. He was sweet, short and long, like a Daschund should be. Reddish-brown, black nosed. Happy as could be, wagging his tail near feverishly, and non-stop. So wildly did he wag his enthusiasm, that he beat his little tail against cabinets, walls, door jams... spraying blood from his beaten-happy tail. He, to this day is remembered fondly, and strangely, for his bandage tipped tail- keeping him from hurting himself and ruining the house with his enthusiastic appendage.
A tale of Huckleberry's tail.


Myrna Foster said...

I ordered a copy weeks ago, and I hope it arrives SOON.

Hmm. I grew up on a farm, so we had lots of animals. My mom didn't like horses, though, so we didn't have them. My dad loved horses and was always telling stories about barnstorming mustangs and whatnot, but he was an airline pilot and gone a lot. My mom ran the place.

I could go on about how badly I wanted a horse, but looking back on it, I can see it was a selfish want. For my twelfth birthday, my parents took me to a ranch in Vegas, and they let me pick out a horse.

She was six months old, mostly blue black with a creamy red down on her belly. The first time I reached up to stroke her neck, she put her head over my shoulder and pulled me into a hug. She was the smartest, most jealous animal I've ever had, and we were close for 24 years. She died last November.

Mara Rae said...

I loved reading all of these stories! And I would love to win a copy of The Twistrose Key. My favorite childhood pet (we had many) was a tan mouse named Herman. I used to carry him around in my shirt pocket and would pretend he was telling me secrets when I held him up to my ear (I loved the way his whiskers twitched and tickled). Alas, Herman was an escape artist and liked to get out of his cage in the middle of the night. Late one night after I'd gone to bed, I got a horrible feeling and went to the doorway. I opened it to find Herman scurrying down the hallway with our cat hot on his tail. I scooped Herman up, thinking I'd saved him, but when I set him down there was blood on my hand. Herman died in my hands that night. I had two more mice after Herman, Freckles and Mortimer, but there was never a mouse quite like him.
My email is mara_rae at

Miss Tiff said...

I grew up on a farm but I was oddly afraid of domestic animals like cats and dogs until very recently. But I remember that we had a milk goat name Penny when I was very little and I loved her so much! I would go to the barn when my mom milked her and watch. My parents gave her to my grandpa (for real, he lived maybe two miles away-she didn't die) and I cried for days! We also had bottle calves at my grandpa's and my sister and I would help feed them at night. There was one we named Mouse that was grayish. I was too small to hold his bottle above the gate, so I held it between the slats and my mom was so aggravated at me because he refused to take his bottle above the gate. I have a lot of weird animals stories, but those are my favorites.

misstiffreads at gmail dot com

Nicrophorus said...

When I was 12, I had a huge albino rat named Strip-I saw this picture in a newspaper of a boy with a huge mohawk with a rat on his shoulder. I had to have the rat and the mohawk. The boy's rat was named Strip as well. I got Strip and he was the most devoted pet I ever had. I carried him everywhere. He lived in my room and didn't need a cage. At night, he would jump on my pillow, lick my face and sleep next to my head. He was old when I got him, so I only had him for about a year.
I came into my room one day and he was sitting on a bureau. He looked funny, so I picked him up and brought him with me as I dropped some friends off with my Dad at the bus station. Strip died in my arms on the way.
I think he waited until I got there to die.
We buried him in the yard next to the big tree. My Dad got a guy from work to make a tiny cross to put on the grave.
It's too bad, I would love to have a rat again, but my husband is phobic.

Anonymous said...

I was raised by a little packet of mini wolves the size of travel toothpaste tubes. Though I was human, they treated me as one of their own and when I was very wee, I was also given a blessing ceremony similar to Magpie's. Apparently, squirrels, ducks, baboons, raccoons, and even a cockroach gave me special powers that combined allow me to swing from trees, smell a herd of mice from nearly two miles away, and survive a nuclear blast, God forbid. My pet was a little ladybug named Ken. He was my childhood companion until I was seven or eight years old. He had the voice of a baby lamb and would snuggle all cozy in the nook of my earlobe's lobe.

Karen Tartar

afunhouse said...

The best childhood pet we've ever had at afunhouse belonged to my, now, 13 year old daughter, Esme. One afternoon as we were unloading groceries from our local co-op we came across a snail in our package of rosemary. Esme, who adores anything biology, animal and art related quickly scooped it up and did a quick bit of internet research to determine what type of snail it was. After a long bit of investigation and comparison she realized that this snail had traveled a good deal! We live in the midwest and her snail was definitely a Helix Aspersa originally from native to North West Africa/Western Europe and most likely reaching us via California where they were introduced in the 1850's. To make a long story short she named her new pet Gary Rosemary (rosemary obviously, due to his arrival vehicle!) and spent the next two years happily creating a habitat for, observing, sketching and researching this delightful Helix Aspersa as he grew from a tiny, friendly little thing into a large and active adult. Sadly, Gary Rosemary recently died unexpectedly. Knowing that he is happily residing in Sylver along with other beloved pets of all kinds brings such a delight to Esme and our entire family!

Anonymous said...

On Christmas Day, when I was 10, I uncovered a bullfrog in my aunt's drainage ditch, all stretched out, belly up in the frozen crik. I scooped him out of the water to save him from freezing to death in the snowy Cleveland, Ohio winter. Taking advantage of my family's astonishment that I had managed to find a frog in December, I convinced my aunt to let me keep him in her mud room sink for the rest of our visit. After several failed naming attempts, he was christened Charlemagne and he lived in half-filled aquarium in my bedroom until spring, when he hit froggy puberty and began to keep everyone up all night calling for a mate. The noise, in combination with my mother's objections to using the bathtub as a corral for the live crickets he ate, meant that Charlemagne had to be released into the local duck pond, which my family has forever after referred to as the Holy Roman Empire.


Becky Calderhead said...

When I was little, about 5 I had a dog named Puddle. I named him because when my dad told me he got me a new dog I took a peek in the outside pen and seen... just a puddle of mud. Turns out he was alive, lol. Puddle was my first pet I really remember. He was an outdoor puppy, but he came in at night and mom tied him up in the kitchen because she hated dogs in the house.

Puddle had other thoughts, he would sneak out of his collar and sneak in my room and cuddle up to me, when she'd notice he'd hide in my closet from her. I remember seeing his glowing eyes peaking out from the closet door.

Puddle also liked to play ring around the coffee table with me, unfortunally he would cheat and cut across and catch me.

Sadly Puddle died young due to worms and nothing we could do, but he will forever be my first pet that I remember and love and over the years I have had many pets but none as dear to me as my two 12 year old dogs I have today :)

Unknown said...

Oh, thank you for this giveaway! Been waiting for this book for ages. There was only ever one dog for me. His name was Duke, but I called him all sorts: Flasher Dasher, Mr. Mistoffolees (okay, a cat name, but he didn't mind), Puke (rhymes with Duke so he answered). Most of the names I called him aren't pronounceable because I mumbled them into his fur as I gave him kisses on the soft spot behind his floppy ears. He was a very patient dog, deadpan even, when I gave him three or more baths a week, carried him on my hip like a toddler, or propped my feet up on his back like a footstool.
Duke was everything. Caught snowballs and jumped through the snow like Pepe LePieu. Peed in the same spot on the carpet for, like, six years. Smiled after sneezing because his lip was stuck on his teeth. He managed to eat every single hotdog at my Dad's cookout and probably set a world record for speed eating an entire roast chicken. He was medium sized, but big-sized in my heart.

Heidi said...

My beloved childhood pet was Diesel the dog. Diesel Dog Busch. My friend and I used to play Harriet the Spy and wander around my house and yard, not-very-surreptitiously, and write things about the individuals we encountered in little notebooks we carried around. I had pages and pages filled with how my dog would spend his days. He was a puppy then and very hyper. He would run and run and run so fast that his lips would be pulled back by the rush of air and his teeth would glint a friendly smile. We were extra-bad at hiding from him to spy because he could always smell us out. Then we would play tag and then lay in the grass together to pant and catch our breath.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid my sister and I had a dog named Chase.
Chase was a golden lab that always wore a friendly (although somewhat stupid) look on his face, and we loved him more than anything in the world. His eyes were big and shiny and his tongue always lolled out of his mouth.
And he was fat. The chubbiest dog I’ve ever seen. I kind of feel bad about that, but the extra pounds made him extremely cute.
He was so blubbery that we would joke about his “rolls of fat.” Whenever he sat down he would wobble a little and then plop onto the floor. Every time we saw another, skinnier lab out on the street we had a good laugh about how fit our dog wasn’t. Poor thing. There was even this spot on his back that, when properly poked, made him twitch. We loved to poke him there because we thought it was funny when the twitch vibrated up and down the fat rolls.
Chase wasn’t always like that. He was svelte when we got him at the shelter. He was sweet and gentle, and the only dog that came up to the door of the cage and licked my sister. She wouldn’t go home with any other dog after that.
For a few weeks afterwards we tried to rename him, but he wouldn’t respond to anything other than the word Chase. (Well, that and the word food.)
He always looked happy. He never growled at anyone—not when you pulled on his tail or held treats just out of reach to tease him.
He liked to place his head on people’s laps when he wanted them to feed him. It was funny when it happened to other people. Not so much when your own jeans were dripping with dog drool.
His favorite spot for us to scratch was right above his tail. We had no idea why.
Chase was our dog. He wasn’t particularly good at playing fetch, didn’t know much beyond the words sit (and food), but he did happen to be good at one particular thing—making everyone around him happy.
Love you Chase <3

Christina Li said...

Oh, my favorite pet was a bird I found fallen and stunned against the window when I was a child. Being the silly person I was, I took it in, but it died within a few hours :(
My parents have never been really fond of pets...but oh--once I caught a blue-haired fairy in a jar and named her Karou...that counts too, right? :D
My email is

Laurie Liu said...

My pet fish and I has come a long way...I know, it doesn't sound very exciting. But I assure you, it is amazing. It all starts with my obsession with fish. Especially white, albino fish...For as long as I could remember, I had loved fish. And I still do! For my third birthday, I begged my parent to get me a pet fish. I don't remember this, but my parents said they Snowy was about two inches. For my third birthday, I got a snow white goldfish. Being the little kid I was, I named her Snowy. I know, SO original. One day, my dad and I were changing the water in her tank and the bowl slipped out of his grasp! Glass flew everywhere and rained down on us. My mother came flying out of the kitchen and saw the glass on the floor. She ran back out of the room and came back holding three pairs of slippers. She came back and demanded us to wear them. I slipped pair on and started to cry. As I said before, I love my fish. Especially Snowy. So I cried. My parents told me to go back to my room and I sat on the bed crying. Thankfully, my parents managed to save all the fish and bought a sturdier tank. Now I'm very protective of Snowy and our other fish. Whenever I'm on vacation I worry about them for half the trip. I even started to kiss my fish every day either in the morning or before I go to bed. Actually, I still do kiss my fish goodnight. Now Snowy has been with me for nine years and still looking good! Who knows what other things we'll experience together? Who knows when the next tank with break? But for now, I will continue to kiss Snowy goodnight and worry myself sick on vacation. Just Snowy and I...

This is a true story about my life. Here's my contact:

Jillian Schmidt said...

Oooh, the Twistrose Key sounds like the perfect mix of charming and creepy. And I've read some of Tone's beautiful writing on her blog in the past, so I'm extra excited!

When I was ten or so, we adopted two tiny black and white kittens that had been abandoned in a box on a street corner downtown. We named them Percy and Pippin (thanks to my little brother's Thomas the Tank Engine obsession and my Tolkien obsession). They were cuddly, quirky, wonderful companions for many years, even if they did have a weird taste for balloon strings. It's so strange to go home for the holidays and not see them bounding out from behind couches to greet us.

I do have another pet to love like crazy now though. A year ago my husband and I adopted an amazing puppy... and we named her Karou! So every time someone asks about her name, I get to brag on your books :-). No plans to dye her fur blue, though.

writingonalimb [at]

InfiniteWinter said...

Hi! (Excited for this book!)

When I was little, after my first two goldfish died, my dad was supposed to take me to the store to buy more. On the way he asked me if I wanted a frog instead, to which I said "Yes!"

As we approached, he asked if I wanted a turtle instead and I said I really wanted one. Once we were in the store he asked if I'd rather have a hamster.

I came home that day with my new hamster, Spot (he was white and had cloudy patches of grey fur... kind of like spots?) and a new cage for him.

My mother wasn't very pleased but I don't think she minded that much.

I felt bad, because Spot escaped from his cage several times (I always took him out to pet him when he was awake though!)

One day, Spot was missing again. I remember walking around with a piece of apple, trying to lure him back. I stood in my room and called his name and it looked like he wandered out, as if he had heard his name and responded. (I like to think he did.)

He lived for about four years and I still miss him a lot. He used to fall asleep in my lap.

I have a wonderful chocolate lab now, named Abigail :)

Have a good day :D

Unknown said...

We had pets growing up; a colourful bunch of animals. The cat that couldn't jump. Another named 'Sophie', who we later discovered to be more of a 'Tom'. The hamster from animal club that I agreed to take home for the half-term break without my mother's permission - she wasn't keen on that - and a similar story about the three corn snakes when I was a little older and a fastidious saver of birthday money. Two dogs, a rabbit and good old goldfish.

I adored each and every one of my pets, but none moreso than my daft-as-a-brush cocker spaniel, Lilly, greedily and deliberately spelt with two 'l's. Alas, I must confess; she is not my childhood pet, but she is a childhood pet.

When my puppy came home for her first night my mother instructed me not to give into the puppy's pining and, no matter what, to keep her off my bed. Oh, what a horrible night! I set up a puppy pen, bundled a hot water bottle and a small clock in blankets in her bed, and sacrificed a favourite old t-shirt in an attempt to comfort my poor fluff ball with legs. Despite every effort she cried for hours, a heartbreaking cry met with my own constant of silent sobs. Exhausted and sobbed-out, eventually I gave in. I crawled into that puppy pen and scooped her up, and we slept awkwardly amongst the puppy pads and blankets, lulled by a muffled tick-tock.

Proudly, I can say that my girl took fine to independent sleeping quite soon after, and I was able to return to the human bed, for a few years at least.

During my third trimester of pregnancy, unable to find a comfortable position in my mold of pillows, the only place I found that I could sleep was on the sofa downstairs with Lilly as a giant comforter with a pulse. One night, she lay with her head on my bump and a tiny limb struck out, clocking her right in the face! Dogs may make only the smallest fraction of expressions that we humans are capable of, but the look of bewilderment on her face was unmistakable. But the sweetest thing, when I settled down from an attack of the giggle fits, she rested her head back in place and she soon became accustomed to the alien convulsion that her human mum's tummy had never made before. We slept side-by-side like that most nights until her human sister arrived.

Now three years on, when I watch the two together fighting over toys, or one harrassing the other for donkey rides or to affix dress-up accessories, I couldn't dream of a child and a pet more suited. Whilst she isn't much of a guard dog, you can tell the loyalty and adoration she has for her bossy human sister. Maybe its something in that doggy smile :)

Unknown said...

Ahh! My email

Lara Garden

Jessica said...

My earliest memory from childhood: I was 4 years old, riding around in the basket of the shopping cart at the grocery store with my mother. She stopped at the unfamiliar cat food section. "Why are you buying cat food?" I wondered. She smiled and said, "In case one comes around."

The next day, the most adorable puff of orange and white fur arrived at our house! A tiny kitten I named Rocky, after The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, of course. I had a younger brother who was just learning to walk, but Rocky and I could do everything together. He had amazing fashion sense, especially when it came to dresses, sunglasses, and hats. He was also an excellent musician, how his paws moved on the keyboard. Outside, I’d sneak into the woods to my quiet place, where I’d play in an imaginary world and write stories, and Rocky always followed, finding a patch of moss or flowers to lie down in, or if it was winter, a pile of snow. He'd run after me as I rode my bike around the block. And at night, I'd slide my toes under his warm lump of purring fur at the end of my bed. He was the most kind, loving, gentle creature. He was my best friend.

When I was in middle school, he disappeared. I was devastated, and my parents told me he was gone. But I constantly checked the back door, hoping to see his little whiskered face there, waiting to be let in. One night, I was sure I heard his meow even though no one else did. And there he was, broken, scratched, and bloodied from his months-long journey to a world only he knew. It took a long time, but he made a full recovery.

In high school, one of my friends committed suicide, and when I was sad he would sneak under the dining room table while we were eating, curl in my lap and purr. He comforted me in a way that no one else could.

The week after I went away to college, he passed away in his sleep. He was 14 years old.

Jessica said...

Oh - ha! My email:

Addie said...

As a kid I had too much time on my hands and frustrated that my mum wouldn't buy me a puppy, let alone a horse, I coincidently found a dragon's egg. Out of this hatched Furo, my fire dragon. Over the course of a summer I fed him and trained him. When he got big enough to ride (after about a week) he took me to the ancestral home of dragons - DragonDown, a sprawling city built by the first dragons (with their claws I guess?) There Furo and I explored the city, playing on the massive fountain which would spurt water at us randomly, and the tiny gothic sweetshops scattered throughout the tows (because dragons eat sweets. obviously.)We toppled a few tyrants and unveiled a few conspiracies, but as Furo and I both got older we began to visit each other less regularly. By the time I was 12, my mum had caved in and got me a cat and friends and homework began to take precedence over our once-daily DragonDown trips. I don't think I would fit on his back any more, but remember him fondly, and assume he's still swashbuckling his way through the streets of DragonDown today.

Unknown said...

I once had a cat who thought he was a boy. He was a small, seal point Siamese with a hook for a tail. He was allergic to the other cats and slept under the covers of our bed. I swear he had taste in music (we didn't always agree) and avoided the haunted places in our house.

Two years ago he died. He died of a very old age in my arms. It was heart breaking but liberating, knowing he was able to move on to maybe be the boy he was supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

My family and I used to live with a rabbit, a dog and a hamster. The rabbit had thick white fur and abnormally big ears that hung down to reach the floor. More relevant to me was that it belonged to my sister and this instantly made it off-limits under promises of a painful death.

Each day after school my sister would come home and take the rabbit out of its cage to play while my dog and I sat side-by-side watching them. The hamster belonged to me, but it was old and idle. I wanted a rabbit so much. Quick and curious as all rabbits are I knew it would make the best playmate and the attention my dog gave the rabbit only heightened my need to get my own as she seemed as eager to play with it as I was.

I soon grew tired of not being allowed to play with the rabbit and decided to hatch a plan. The next time my sister stayed with a friend after school for a sleepover, I would sneak up to the cage and take it out to play. As long as I returned the rabbit to the cage I knew my sister would be none the wiser.

When the time came to unleash the plan I eagerly ran to the cage, but I remember stopping short when I got there. The rabbit looked sad and wasn’t running about like its usual self. I peered closer trying to work out what was wrong when I realized the cage was lined with bars and while the sun shone outside, the rabbit was locked away in a prison.

With care I opened the cage and picked up the rabbit. Knowing that the fresh air outside would cheer it up I slowly walked outside. But the rabbit still looked downcast so I decided to introduce it to my hamster. Only needing to be gone a moment to fetch him I placed the rabbit on the ground before running inside.

I never noticed the hulking figure of my dog as she emerged from the corner of the garden.

Anonymous said...

My name is Bekka, and this is long and very dear to my heart.

When I was little my sister and I liked to run across the road to my Mamaw’s house and steal her cats. Well, let me clarify. They weren’t really *her* cats. She just fed about a hundred of them. My Grandmother was a cat lady but she wasn’t crazy. At least not yet. Anyway, it wasn’t her fault that when people got tired of their cats they dropped them off by her house. She eventually started feeling sorry for them and buying a big bag of cheap cat food to toss out onto her porch twice a day. Suddenly, there was a kitten boom and about 25% of the cat population in our small town was concentrated at my Mamaw’s house.

Unfortunately, when my parents noticed my failed attempt to sneakily spirit hot dogs out of the house, (Six year olds aren’t particularly good at stealth it turns out) they put their foot down. My mom, who raised pure bred cocker-spaniels decided to give me and my sister our very own puppy we could pick out from the next litter.

My sister named her puppy Summer, but I on the other hand had to have my perfectionism tampered with when my mom told me if I didn’t pick out a name she would. The first thing I looked at was my “Mandie and The Secret Tunnel” book sitting on the coffee table. So, that’s what I named my puppy. Mandie.

Looking back I realize how pets really do reflect their owners personality. Summer, like my sister was sweet, shy and loyal. She was almost all white and matched the exact tone of my sisters light skin. Mandie was fierce, and wild with no filter for her actions. Her golden brown fur was the exact color of my hair.

Mandie and Summer had to be kept in an outside pen because my dad refused to have more than one dog in the house. We gave them color coded collars. Summer would always get a purple one, and Mandie would always get a red one. Every day after school Rachel and I would run back to the pen to let the dogs out. Summer was a lap dog and would follow Rachel around while I turned out to be a lap human and followed Mandie around.

If you looked up picture of bird dog in the dictionary you’d see Mandie. Most of our afternoons in the summer would consist of me floating in an inner tube in the pond while Mandie doggie paddled after the martins that would swoop down to get a drink from the water. I never knew of a dog that would track birds in the air and follow them as they flew. She was obsessed.

One day, I forgot to put her back in her pen. I was sitting inside having lunch when the phone rang. It was my Aunt calling saying that one of our dogs was playing in the road. My mom went outside to try and wrangle Mandie up. I followed her out to see if I could help.

We had just hit the drive way when this big red truck came speeding around the curve. Luckily, the drivers were nowhere near to hitting Mandie, but that didn’t stop them from doing it for fun. I screamed as my mom sent me back inside. I refused to believe it had been Mandie. I didn’t trust my eyes. I didn’t trust my mom when she said she was pretty sure it was Mandie. Pretty sure isn’t the same as positively sure. My mom gathered the hit dog into a black garbage sack and went to find a shovel. She told me to go back inside. Instead, as soon as she left, I sat indian legged on the concrete by the black hefty bag. I remember tentatively opening it to make sure it was Mandie. At first all I could see was the perpetually permed looking ear of a cocker. Then, as I opened the bag further, a crunched bloody body and hair the color of my own. She still had her red collar on. Ever since then I’ve retired the color red from any other pets. That will always be Mandie’s color.


Anonymous said...

It all started with my sister.

She wanted a kitten, I guess, so we all piled into our van to drive to some dude's farm to adopt one of his many kittens.

(I don't recall Some Dude's real name, or why he let us take one of his beloved kittens, as I was only five. But anyways.)

When we got to Some Dude's farm, I had pretty convincingly kept up my chill attitude of the non-jealous girl who totally did need a stupid kitten, until HOLY COW IT'S SO FLUFFY AND PUFFY AND SWEET I WANT HIM. Aaaand so, in a brief moment of brattiness, I cried and pouted and stomped until my poor dad finally caved and gave me my brand new, black,fluffy kitten. After careful consideration, I decided to call him Pookie. (Full name being Pookie Lance Christian.)

And so I drove home with my brand new best friend on my favorite day ever. We also stopped for pizza. And I fed him pizza crusts. And it was wonderful.

We remained inseparable for a time, though I'm pretty certain he secretly hated me. I mean, I'd probably hate the girl who dressed me up in little costumes and forced me to have pretend wedding ceremonies with her stuffed animals too, so I really can't blame him.

Pookie would often run off at night to hunt or court stray lady cats or whatever the heck it is cats do outside at night. Until one morning, he didn't come back. That was the end of it. No dramatic goodbyes, no heartfelt hugs, he didn't even leave a note. Just gone, forever. I choose to believe, though, that he simply ventured too far one night and couldn't find his way home. Now he lives with a sweet old Scottish couple who took him in. And he is brushed every night after a meal of grilled tilapia and warm milk. And he is happy.

But I mean, that's just a crazy guess.

I have no idea where he is now, because, heh, it's not like I imagined we had a rare telepathic connection that allowed me to check up on him every so often or anything.

Because would be crazy.

Carina Olsen said...

Thank you for this amazing giveaway. <3 I think The Twistrose Key sounds amazing :D Would love to win a copy of it. My childhood pet was my Chihuahua boy, Tarzan. He was the best dog ever. Though he had something broken in his back when we got him, and because of that he could not jump like a normal dog. He couldn't walk the stairs or anything. So we had to carry him everywhere, and that created a special bond, I think. <3 He was just adorable. Barking at anything; cats, squirrels and cars. The sad thing is that we had to take him away when he was just 6 years old :\ Because he started to have pain in his back. And that just about killed me. I still miss him so much. (Just been a year and a half since he passed.) Anyway. Fingers crossed for the giveaway :) Thank you. <3
Love, Carina

Joanna Roddy said...

They say that a pet chooses you, and that was true with Camille. She was a white and brown tabby and even though my four-year-old self went to that pet shelter determined to come home with a pristine white kitten (and likely call her something highly original like snowball) Camille walked straight up to my mom and I and mewed with intensity of purpose. My mom knew what this meant, and I quickly realized that my own determinations were dead in the water.

She mostly became my three years older sister's cat. After having her for a few years, we moved several states away and left her with my grandma. When we came to visit the next summer, Camille came running the moment my sister stepped out of the car. She had become an outdoor cat that year, but from the day we came back, Camille insisted on sleeping with my sister every night. And when I say insisted, I do mean that she had the most stubborn, crescendoing, high-pitched meow when she wanted something that she made it impossible to refuse her. She was borderline neurotic, but she got what she wanted. And when our visit to grandma's was over, she came home with us for good, through four subsequent moves.

As we got older she became just as much my cat as my sister's. She would sleep in my bed and lavish her affections on me whenever she found me vulnerable on the couch by crawling up onto my chest, putting her little paws around my neck, and covering me with nose kisses (borderline aggressively, of course). She often stood between my mom and me when we got into it and meowed, as though to referee the fighting or tell my mom to stop yelling at me. She mothered us. She would come to kiss and wuzzle if ever I were sobbing in my room, as tween girls and wont to do.

She lived 17 years and I was in college, away from home when she died. The next time I see her I can only assume she'll hear my voice from far off and, abandoning whatever covert catlike operations in which she had been engaged in the underbrush, come running my direction with her insistent, semi-scolding, yowl.

This was fun! Thanks for the opportunity

Eden said...

I had always wanted a cat as a pet, since I was born. I was obsessed with cats. I subscribed to Cat Fancy. I made my parents take us to a cat show in the big city on a Saturday day-trip, and afterwards felt quite happy but impressively embarrassed about the whole thing. I absolutely loved cats.
Then on my 9th birthday my mother got home a little late from work. It was dark outside, and dreary, and windy (it being mid-November), and I was quite impatient for her to return to the party could start. My birthday party. Several of my school friends were in attendance, along with a cousin or three. Anyway, my mother returned home from work, and opened her coat, and inside was a tiny grey ball of fluff that was a real live kitten and he was all mine to have and hold. I named him Sabrie. He was my first childhood pet.

Unknown said...

I had a pet as a kid. He was a parakeet named Perchy and I didn't really love him, but I liked him quite a bit. My sister had a parakeet named Hedwig, and she got him first, so I copied her. Anyway, Hedwig was an aggressive bully to Perchy, so we were all surprised when he died after a few years. Perchy lived to be 10 years old (pretty long for a parakeet, I think) and she died last year :( I was more upset than I thought I would be. He was SO loud, always making noises, but I really liked it, and the house was so quiet without him.

tone almhjell said...

I just want to say that I am reading each and every one of these comments, and am taking turns smiling/laughing/sobbing.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories! And for wanting to read The Twistrose Key <3

Quill Mac said...

My mother’s father, “Bumpa” (my eldest brother’s best toddler approximation of “grandpa”) passed away several years before I was born. He had been diagnosed with cancer long before he died, and he and my grandmother had had time to travel the country together in their tiny motor home, Nana comically straddling their big sheep dog, Bumbles, as she prepared meals in their shower-stall-sized kitchen. At some point during their trip, my grandparents talked about death and what might come after. Bumpa vowed that whatever came next, if he could find a way back to Nana and give her a sign that he was with her, he would.

A year or two after my grandfather died, Bumbles died, too. Nana was in the market for a new four-legged companion to share her creaky old Vermont farmhouse, and she soon came across an advert for a litter of puppies in the local newspaper. Setting out just to “see” them, Nana came away with the runt, a little mutt, all black with a white diamond on her chest. She named the puppy Maggie, and it was as much as though Maggie had chosen Nana as the other way around. They were true kindred spirits, and real friends – as any dog owner, especially one living alone, will understand.

Every morning, Nana and Maggie would take a long walk along their wooded road. There was little traffic, and Maggie was seldom leashed. She’d chase deer, bark at squirrels, and socialize with the neighbor’s dog. She’d always return to Nana, though, and they’d end up walking side by side. We began to notice, when visiting my grandmother, that while our dog would pick up sticks (and nose through every unsavory thing in the woods), Maggie would only ever carry one of two things in her mouth: aluminum cans found on the side of the road, or white stones. She was extraordinarily tenacious in her collecting, and would always carry these items all the way home, dropping them to the side of the big stone slab of a doorstep. There, the cans would wait to be added to the recycle bin (first insisted upon by my grandfather, who had always made a point of picking up cans he saw along the side of the road). The white rocks clattered onto a pile of like stones, a collection long ago begun by Bumpa and now stretching all the way around the old red colonial.

My mum and her brothers had all noticed Maggie’s devotion to Nana, but none of them gave it much thought. She was a very loyal companion, but nothing out of the ordinary for a family dog. They were struck by the similarity of Maggie’s collecting quirks with Bumpa’s habits of old, however, so much so that mum’s older brother, Joel, recalled Bumpa’s promise to “come back.” He began to joke that Maggie was Bumpa reincarnated. Whether this was true or not, the association made a special dog even dearer.

As the years carried on, Maggie began to go a bit white around the muzzle, and Nana began to go a bit gray along her hairline. When Nana fell down for the first time, slipping on the ice in her driveway and fracturing two ribs, Maggie stayed right with her, keeping her warm – and keeping her laughing (painful as that sounds) – until help came.

When Nana had to move to a nursing home nearer my family, Maggie moved in with Uncle Joel. She had to stay in his workshop out back, as his wife is terrified of dogs, but he would often take his dinner out and sit with Maggie. He talked to her as though she were a real person, and took her to visit Nana often. Maggie seemed to wilt at the end of her life, but seeing Nana never failed to get a wag out of that old tail.

Maggie died a year before my grandmother, and Joel had her cremated. He kept the ashes until Nana passed away, and buried her with Nana’s urn. Bumpa’s ashes had somehow been lost years before when the crematorium entered new ownership, so his children had no tangible remnants of my grandfather to bury with his wife. Nevertheless, the headstone where Nana and Maggie are buried reads “Donald and Elizabeth Dumont.” An unorthodox choice on my uncle’s part, but it’s gotten no arguments from any of us.

Lynwen said...

I grew up cruising in Camaros whistling at boys,giggling with girlfriends in the early hours, freshly painted nails glinting in the light of late night horror. I teased up my hair and drew peace signs on everything, largely ignoring the pets that my little sister adored.

Then, one day, my dreams of prom dresses and college life disappeared almost overnight, the images fading as if a great hand had drawn a velvet cloth over them, snuffing them out. My family was moving. Moving from a world of sparkling seasons and promise to a land of brown brick and grey skies, where strange words were spoken in an even stranger lilt that I couldn’t fathom no matter how hard I tried.

I took ill soon after we moved to a suburb in Northern England. The doctors diagnosed severe Glandular Fever with a bit of depression thrown in for good measure. I could barely walk, had no interest in food, I had to be carried from room to room, plonked in front of a television with only four channels, subjected to visitors I barely knew.

That’s when Kitty entered my life. She was a tiny little ball of grey fluff, her green eyes flecked with gold. I can’t remember the reason behind such a nondescript name; it was probably all I could be bothered to come up with at the time. She soon became my feline shadow, a smudge of charcoal under my chin, her purr humming against my throat. I took refuge in books, escaping the gloomy world I lived in and living countless lives of freedom and adventure in its place, all with Kitty by my side. She developed a habit of standing on her hind legs whenever I stood up, extending her front legs into the air as high as she could, claws grappling for purchase against my thighs. I would bend down and lift her up under her front legs and hold her to my chest and she would wrap her arms around my neck tight and rub her leathery little nose against my cheek. Her fur was often damp with my tears, her purr the only sound in the early hours as I lay at the ceiling reciting all that I had left behind, deliberately picking at my wounds again and again.

There was so much silence during that time. I can clearly remember staring into her eyes, the amber like little sparks of a greater intelligence breaking through the usual cat eyes with their crescent pupils and condescending stare. I could easily imagine that she wasn’t really a cat at all, that she had been sent to look after me, and I wove her into many a daydream where she somehow restored me to my rightful place in the world. She had no time for anyone else and would hiss and scratch away any overtures of kindness from others.

And then I got better. I started to find strength in my body and a yearning to get out and find things to do, people to meet, I began to venture beyond the house and into a totally different life. I came and went, and Kitty was always there for me when I needed her. The trouble was that over time I began to need her less and less, eventually bringing home a tiny squalling baby that needed me so much I was subsumed by it. His incessant crying, his sleepless nights - I was alone and bewildered by this fretful creature. Kitty learned that her fur was too much, it got in the baby’s mouth, it covered everything, her claws were too sharp, they needled me when I was too weary and sore to take it, her cat hugs were suffocating when I needed some space, any space I could find for myself. She learned to tread softly, sleep quietly in the corner, keep to herself. When she died I wanted to scrabble through the earth with my bare hands, help her to lift her old creaky legs up to mine, to lift her up and tickle her forehead with my chin again.

There will always be an ache in my throat when I think of Kitty, my own little storm cloud that thinned to a wisp while I was too busy staring at the ground.

Lynwen said...

Hello, me again! I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your blog Laini, almost as much as I love reading your books! I never question your book recommendations, someone who writes as wondrously as you can't fail but have sterling taste in reading. :)
Thank you for this competition, it has been lovely to read of the stories of people and their pets.
I forgot to include my email address earlier, it is


Lynwen said...

Hello, me again! I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your blog Laini, almost as much as I love reading your books! I never question your book recommendations, someone who writes as wondrously as you can't fail but have sterling taste in reading. :)
Thank you for this competition, it has been lovely to read of the stories of people and their pets.
I forgot to include my email address earlier, it is


Unknown said...

Shasta was our big, black cat. My husband, okay, Shasta wasn't a childhood pet, but he came along before children, so really, before I became an adult! Anyway, my husband Tom, found Shasta one day while working, sampling rivers and streams around Beaverton. He came across the skinny, scraggly, flea-bitten kitty between the river and some railroad tracks. Tom could barely get away from the kitty, it was so starved for affection, but he promised to return after work to rescue him. Half hoping that the mangy little cat would be gone by then, he stopped after work and called "here kitty kitty." The kitty came running through the bushes and practically jumped on him! Of course, he brought him home, cleaned him up, and he became our beloved Shasta. When we did have kids, Shasta loved them too, cuddling up with them and purring. He was always a weird kind of cat, sometimes we thought he acted more like a dog, greeting us at the door and playing fetch with his catnip mouse. After many years and a lot of good times, Shasta passed away of old age. But we still miss him...

My kids and I love your books, and recently read and loved another of your recommendations "Poison". So, we can't wait to read "The Twistrose Key", while we wait for "Dreams of Gods and Monsters" to come out!


Jonquill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonquill said...

My dog died when I was eight years old. He was sixteen at the time. This is my way of saying that I was in no way responsible for naming my male dog Buffy. That was my sister's doing. In fact, until I was much older, I always thought of Buffy as being a really manly name. If a dude can be buff, he should certainly be able to be Buffy. I still hold to this.

Buffy was a mix of Scottish Terrier and Poodle. Just imagine your regular Scotty, then stretch out his legs a bit, and give him a perm. You'll have his look pretty well down.

Buffy managed to retain the loyalty of a Scotty and the intelligence of a Poodle. I was the youngest of his wards so he kept track of me most of all. Buffy worked out that I was the one liable to run head first into a table, or get lost in the words. You go where you are needed.

On more than one occasion Buffy led my friends and I out of the woods, or ran over to someone when they'd gotten injured, and barked the rest of the troupe over. But people still have a hard time believing me when I tell them that my dog saved kittens.

We had a crazy cat lady on our street. By the measure of crazy cat ladies, she must have been well up the ladder. Twenty cats lived inside her house. Three lived just outside, refusing to enter into the territorial politics that must have been raging inside those doors. However, the greatest portion of cats knew her not as a roommate, but as a provider. Once a week she would dump a bag of cat food that stood as tall as my six year old self in her garage. She'd simply flip open the garage window, and let the strays wander into the buffet.

Our street was known for miles.

So it did not surprise me when another box of kittens appeared on our corner. People dropped them off all the time, thinking they would simply be absorbed into our cat lady's menagerie.

That particular box of kittens, I'm sure intended to join the pack, was not placed in front of the cat lady's house. That particular box was placed across the street, in the front yard of the local bully, and his angry Rottweiler.

We had no idea of this. We were playing down the street: my friends, my dog, and my friends Collie. In the midst of our game of tag, Buffy's ears perked up and he went running down the street. The Collie followed him and we followed her.

When we came to the end of the block, we saw the bully's dog had already found the kittens. The Rottweiler, whose disposition I blame entirely on his owner, started throwing the kittens around the yard. Shaking them by the nape of their neck, tossing them around the yard and chasing them down again.

Buffy and the Collie snapped into action and circled the Rottweiler, who growled back at them the moment they set paw on the lawn.

The other kids and I were frozen.

Buffy circled to the right, while the Collie circled to the left. Each would lunge in on the Rottweiler the moment his attention was drawn to the other. There was growling and snarling and snapping, but none of the dogs ever touch each other. The Rottweiler didn't appreciate being out numbered, and gave ground each time one of our dogs snapped. Eventually, he slunk just behind the back gate, where he stayed watching until we left.

The moment the bully's dog disappeared felt like the first moment we'd taken breath since we found the box of kittens. We still hadn't moved since we came on the scene. We hadn't even stepped out of the street.

This is when my dog walked over to one of the kittens and picked him up in his mouth. He carried the kitten back to the box and dropped him inside as gently as you could imagine. He looked me right in the eye, as if trying to say, "It's your turn now."

We got the kittens back into the box, and got them into the happy hands of our crazy cat lady.

We never let Buffy snitch food from the table, and he was never one to beg, but he still got a little steak from me that night.

Jonquill said...

Oh, and my email:

Lydia Watson said...

Hi, my name is Lydia, and I think that (after forcing most of my friends and some teachers to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone) I may be in love with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books. Thankyou very much, Laini Taylor, for writing them, they are fabulous. Anyway. Pet Story.

I live in Auckland, a city in New Zealand. When I was about 7, some friends of my parents lived on a farm in Taranaki (5 hours drive away from Auckland). These friends had two boys about the same age as me and my sister, and we were quite good friends with them.

One weekend when we went to stay on this farm, my sister developed a bond with one of the young lambs, and when we left, we got permission to take it with us back to Auckland. We put this lamb in the back of our relatively small station wagon, and drove the 5 hours home with it.

Although we got home that evening at about 6.30pm, my dad built the lamb a small wooden house out of bits of scrap timber. It had a plastic corrugated roof, small wooden shutters with hinges, and a child sized door (we still have this hut, although half of the floor has rotted away). We (my sister) named the lamb "delicaty" and pretty much gave it free reign of the lawn. Although Delicatey was very cute, she had a nasty habit of waking the whole neighbourhood at 3am because she was hungry. We fed her on a milk solution out of a bottle, and gave her frequent love and attention. Unfortunately, when she grew too big, we had to give her away to another farm (who supposedly promised not to kill her). My sister and I were both devastated when we had to abandon our pet lamb, and I remember my sister (who loves meat), vowing never to eat meat from a sheep again.

Some of the other pets I have had over the years include: a pet mouse named Clara, a stray sick bird we once picked up at the beach and fed for a few weeks, several rabbits (and their adorable offspring), a guinea pig, and some hens.

My email address is Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

My parents bought Ralie when I was 18 months old. She was the runt of the litter, and a mixed breed with the biggest tail a small dog could ever have.

We became fast friends. What was most remarkable was Ralie's patience with a little child. She never yapped or nipped at me, nor at my little sister and brother who arrived years later.

One evening, my parents wondered where Ralie was, as they had not seen her in a long time and I was being quiet the way only a mischievous two-year-old could be. Eventually they found her sitting quietly in the book case, waiting to be found (I had put her there, I am told).

Four years later, my sister deposited Ralie in the toilet to "bath" her. As before, she simply sat quietly, appreciating bath time. (My sister, however, was forced to apologize personally.)

When I was seven and discovered the library, she would run along with me to the library. She was the only dog allowed in the library, and they loved her. She hated a leash, and did not need one in our little village. Sometimes she would stay behind, and the librarian would drop her at our house by the end of the day.

There are so many stories about this little dog who, despite her status as runt, grew to the ripe old age of thirteen. We all loved her, and there had never been a sadder day in our household as the day she quietly slipped away.

Anonymous said...

Our first family dog, Spot, passed away very suddenly when I was entering high school. Our family was very heartbroken and didn’t want to consider adopting again, but a week or so later my mom, sister and I accompanied our neighbors to the local SPCA to pick out a dog for their family. Our neighbors didn’t adopt that day, but our family found a little puppy that we instantly fell in love with. He was tiny and ill, only a few weeks old, and black with a few white marks on his chin, chest, and paws. Because he had been found by the SPCA the same day that Spot died and he bore a white cross on his chest, I was instantly convinced that this tiny, sick puppy was some sort of God-send for our family.
After calling my dad and pleading with him to let us bring the puppy home, my dad consented. The puppy was too young to be adopted and ill besides (the SPCA usually has to put down any sick animals), but we were allowed to take him home as “foster” parents—if we could nurse him back to health, then we could adopt him when he was old enough. We took him to a vet right away, but we were told that he was very sick and suffering from malnutrition and might not make it—don’t get too attached. We named him Luke because he looked like the beanie baby puppy by that name and was roughly the same size. We gave Luke meds, boiled hamburger for him, slept downstairs on the floor with him at night and held him as he slept during the day. He was so small, when he’d step down from our patio to the grass, his little head would make him loose balance and tip forward.
All the babying and medicine paid off and our little Luke and he grew, and grew, AND GREW. Turns out he was a mix of Lab (which he definitely resembled as a puppy) and Great Dane making him a small pony of a dog. Needless to say, we adopted Luke and loved him. He was the sweetest tempered dog and the best furry companion a girl could wish for. Last year Luke passed away and it was one of the hardest losses our family has gone through, but we’ll always cherish the wonderful years we had with him, all the joy he gave us, and the wonderful personality he had. In the end, I still think he was a God-send.

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