When I was in kindergarten (1972), towards the end of the school year, my parents got us a puppy.
I was 5, almost 6. My brother was 4. My baby sisters were toddlers, 1 and 2 years old. The only pets in the house before this was a fish tank, that we were forbidden to touch (after my brother turned the heat up & killed the first round of fish). My parents’d had a dog before I was born, but had gotten rid of it when they’d moved to the house.
They got us a puppy from a local breeder, a wiggly little cockapoo (cocker spaniel/poodle mix) that us kids immediately named “Snoopy”. If you aren’t familiar with cockapoos, they’re small, lively, loving dogs, great for kids.
Snoopy was gone after a week.
One week: long enough for us kids to bond with him and fall in love with that wiggly, cute puppy that loved to run and romp with us. That puppy who made both my baby sisters giggle by licking their faces; watching my youngest sister toddle after Snoopy was hysterical. Snoopy would romp with us, chasing balls and shoes and giggling kids. He stayed in the finished basement/sub-level (which had a tiled floor), since he hadn’t been house-broken yet.
Then one day, I clomped upstairs to tell Mom that Snoopy had made a mess. My mom got pissed. She started screaming at me: “You kids aren’t taking care of it. I’m not going to. It’s going back to the farm.”
One week. One week with young children who’d never had a pet before. Children who were too young to understand what needed to be done, who’d never been taught how to care for a dog (let alone any animal), kids who were too young to even care for themselves. One week of a new, lively, loving puppy…and Snoopy was gone because four young children didn’t automatically know what to do & two parents couldn’t be bothered to teach us how..
If a five-year-old child wasn’t perfectly “responsible” from the get-go, she didn’t deserve shit.
Both mom & dad yelled & screamed at us kids as we cried and begged for Snoopy to stay. We were “whining babies”. We were “bad”. We were “spoiled brats” & it was all our fault for Snoopy going away. Dad picked up the whimpering puppy and walked out the door; Mom kept yelling & finally ordered us all to our rooms.
We never saw Snoopy again.
I’m crying as I write this. I’m 52-fuckin’-years-old, and I can’t stop crying. Nor was this an isolated incident — it’s the first memory of many.
My husband & I now have cats. Every time my parents have deigned to visit us, my dad starts bitching, telling me to get rid of the cats, whining that he doesn’t understand why we have them, stomping his feet to intimidate them, & grabbing our squirt bottle to soak them just because they wander a bit too close (I grabbed it back and yelled at him to cut that shit out before he succeeded.) Mom only sits there with a stiff smile on her face as our black kitty, Luna, comes up and sniffs at the stranger sitting on the couch.
Worse, I found out that my brother — now married with four kids of his own — pulled this exact same BS with his own kids and a puppy. Mom told me about it, shaking her head in self-righteousness, as if she’d never do any such thing to her kids. And I was a chicken-shit coward, mumbling my agreement and changing the subject.
The first memory of many….