Friday, February 22, 2013

Animals in Our Family History

It is a rare person who has never had an animal play some part in their family history. Animals can bring us comfort and peace in our hectic lives. Other animals are raised for the purpose of providing food products to sustain our lives. In our family we have had both types of animals and they become a part of our family story. While we may not place them in our database as a family member, though some may very well have done so, we should include them in the stories that we write.

While raising six children we had a wide variety of animals that included: two dogs, numerous cats, parakeets, fish of many varieties, hermit crabs, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats (my least favorite), an iguana, neuts, other lizards and a turtle; and for food production chickens, rabbits, and a goat. They were not allowed to have snakes. Feeding of said animals was time consuming, especially when you are running to the pet store for crickets. The children experienced responsibility in caring for the animals and loss when an animal moved on or died.

Animals can bring us great joy and many people feel as though they become a member of the family. As a mother of six children I had to give up the two dogs and this brought me great sadness. The first was terribly spoiled before we had children, and then developed a terrible case of jealousy toward our first child. The second would not be contained and was an artist at going over four foot fences and under six foot fences. Cats are another story, as they sometimes develop unpleasant habits. So we decided no more cats or dogs.

My children continue to have a great love of animals. Our oldest daughter has two delightful dogs that are definitely a part of their family. In the past couple of years she had to put down two dogs due to illnesses. Yes, animals require care, love and time for meeting their needs. Our middle daughter has a dog and a cat, so when we need animal time we can visit them. Our youngest son wanted a dog since he was young, and while he had other pets, he will have to wait until he leaves home to have a dog.

As I read the stories of our ancestors there are often animals mentioned. One of my favorite stories is about a pony that was loved by an entire community. There is even a newspaper article about this beloved animal. Most of these animals lived on farms and were more or less outdoor pets. For some reason over the years the care of pets has often fallen to women who are supervising children. The animals are at the mercy of humans who can be forgetful, so we remind each other of our obligations to the animals.

Recently we had the Portland Aquarium open near us and this has become a family favorite place to visit. Almost everyone in the family has been there at least once. It is interesting to watch people as they interact with the wildlife. The staff is especially good at working with children up close, allowing them the chance to feel comfortable around the animals. We love that it is very close to our home. It is an indoor activity that fits well with the Oregon weather. Then we have the Oregon Zoo and programs through OMSI, which allow close contact with animals. There are many ways to share the mysteries and interesting aspects of animals living on our planet.

Did animals play a part in your family history? Have you written stories about them, or taken pictures of them with family members? Capturing these memories to share with future generations helps them to learn of the value of animals in our lives. For all the love and affection our pets demonstrate for us, we need to include them in the stories we write about our families.

1 comment:

  1. I have very fond memories of all these pets. It was such a wonderful experiance to have so many different types of pets in our home.