Around 1980 There was Dookie, the black labrador. I don’t remember Dookie, but she’s a legend where I come from. The story goes like this (p.s. it’s a sad one). My mom was pushing Jennifer and me in the stroller to the nearby grocery store. We’d forgotten to lock the back door. Legend has it that Dookie was so smart, she could open doors. Dookie was also protective, especially of Jennifer and me. She’d follow our toddling feet anywhere. That afternoon, Dookie traced us through the parking lot–well, you know the rest.
Around 1987 There was Maxwell, the longest living goldfish on record. I’m almost certain that Kelly finally named him one morning after the coffee our parents drank. Living for eight or so years on our kitchen counter top, I didn’t expect as much, but I grew attached to ol’ Maxwell.
Around 1988 Then, Napoleon. Let me preface with this: We’re definitely a dog family. The cat experiment was a lousy idea. Oh, Napoleon! I’d like to think it had something to do with your name, the fact that we could never tame you. Almost from the get go, Napoleon stubbornly refused to be an indoor cat. He preferred the life of a declawed, outdoor hunter–with a serious attitude (in my opinion). He refused to snuggle or simply spend time with the family. He left us a lot of dead mice on the porch, whatever that means.
Around 1990 Finally, our dear Dowry. She was a princess, and we adored her as such–our cuddly, yet feisty little puff ball of energy. Dowry was enamored with the neighborhood paper boy. She’d anticipate his arrival for hours. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of her day. After the paper boy, Dowry loved my mother the most, then Jennifer, then me, a distant third. I took no offense. I remember, years later, the weekend we put Dowry down. It was the same weekend we celebrated my brother’s marriage. It’s as if Dowry knew that the family would all be there to bid her a proper and happy farewell.