Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pets from the Past and a Writer who Remembers

My cat Amber died about a month ago.  I've already blogged about losing a pet (see my petMD.com blog here) and I don't desire belaboring the point longer.  Instead, this loss has jogged my memory a bit and I'd like to share with you some ancient animal-loving, young writer history. 

Growing up, I had pets.  The progression of my pets followed a fairly normal course: first goldfish, then cats, then finally, finally! a dog (dogs were my passion in elementary school).  Then, middle school hit and I became horse crazy (still am).  As a child who loved books and often wrote (although not realizing I actually wanted to do such a thing as a grown-up), I started keeping a pet diary.  Initially starting as a "Fish Diary" given the initial critters I kept, this morphed from a paperback tombstone of fish that I had known and loved, with entries every time a fish died, to a handwritten record (bound with pink yarn!) of the pets that entered my life. 

My Animal Diary (you can see where it originally said "fish") - complete with illustrations!
Starting when I was nine with the too-soon death of my very first goldfish named, embarrassingly, "Goldie", this record quickly takes on the tragic tone of a child's direct observations on loss.

Apparently, my second fish, "Kally" (because she was calico), died soon after "Goldie".  Pesky goldfish. 

The next entry was more upbeat, titled: "Got New Fish!" But you see where this is going... The enthusiastic new fish entry occurred on Saturday, March 16, 1991.  Next entry: Thursday, March 20, 1991, reads as follows:

"On Thursday, March 20, 1991 Chocolate our black fish with bulging eyes died. I knew he was going to die first. But oh well. I'm sorry he did die."

Way to sort of pat yourself on the back for predicting death, Creepy Kid Anna.  And love the resolve here: "But oh well".  Kids grow up so quick.

Apparently, my parents decided by the summer of 1991, I had grown out of the fish phase and was ready for terrestrial pets:

Yes, we gave all our pets middle names. And apparently my artistic skills were limited to fish.
Soon after, more animals: Patches and her kittens, and a stray named Pumpkin.  The last entry in this journal was September 9, 1995 when I finally got my first dog, Sam. 

It's funny to go back and look at things we've written long ago.  In my case, the handwriting seems alien and the blunt phrases and overt turns of emotion surprise me.  I'm glad this flimsy journal, bound with red construction paper, has survived moves overseas and back, college dorms, and the purges that come with each successive move to a new location.  A glimpse into the past can even sometimes help us understand where we are now.  No, I don't specifically keep a pet journal anymore.  But I do journal in general and have been since 2008.  My current pets feature in these pages occasionally.  Amber sure did.  And we keep writing on.


  1. Great post, Anna. This makes me want to dig through my parents' basement to find some of my own old animal writing!

    1. Thanks, Elliott! Yes, start digging. It's amazing the things you find in the basement....