Let me just start by saying that I love animals and always have. My mom tells many stories of taking me to petting zoos where I squealed in delight when realizing where we were and then once inside, I'd go from animal to animal and pet each one with a huge smile on my face. And to be honest, I still do that now. :)
As far as pets go, we always had them when I was growing up. Our family pets included lovebirds, a cockatiel, lots of fish, and always dogs. When I was little, we got a Basset Hound who stole my heart and is the main cause for my love of the breed. When she passed away, we got a Chihuahua, rescued an adult Shar-Pei and got a Shar-Pei puppy, all within about 6 months. We are definitely dog people in my family.
As for my own pets, I've had a few over the years. The first that were just mine were mice, which I wrote about here. I snuck a hamster into my house once and kept it hidden in my room for a couple of weeks until it bit my sister. Then I had a parakeet, whose name was Teekarapelam (male parakeet spelled backward) who we called Teek. I watched him die and was completely devastated.
After leaving my parents' house, I lived in apartments and have always felt strongly about not having a dog in an apartment. I'm not a huge fan of little dogs, so I chose to do without. However, when we lived in California we ended up with a cat. My cousin's husband works for a veterinarian and this cat was abandoned in his office. They offered it to us and even though I really wasn't a huge fan of cats, I missed having a pet and the cat was very sweet. Let's just say, I fell in love with her. We named her Kerrigan and she was perfect. She used her litter box religiously, never tried to run out the door, liked to be cuddly and always stayed in the room when someone came over. We were so sad to have to find her another home when we moved to Colorado, but since we were moving in with my parents and they already had two dogs, we couldn't bring her. When we moved to the manager's apartment at the motel Shell worked at, she went with my sister one day to the animal shelter to look at cats. Before they walked in, a woman approached them and asked if they'd be interested in a kitten. Her cat had kittens and she couldn't find homes for the last of them. Shell came home with an orange striped female and we called her Sammi. She was a good cat, but when we moved to my sister's basement, Sammi had to stay down there with us. My sister's cat and Sammi didn't get along unfortunately and even after we moved to our apartment she just seemed irritated all the time. Once the kids came, she was even harder to live with. She would choose to use her litter box sometimes, but would also use piles of laundry, the couch, our bed, and sometimes the couch. It was frustrating and we couldn't explain it, other than figuring that between the time in the basement and then the move and the addition of the kids, she was just mad. When we moved out of our apartment into the house we rented, we chose to surrender her to the no-kill shelter instead of running the risk of her habits continuing or worsening in someone else's house. We hoped that she would be adopted by someone without small children who could give her the attention she deserved and she could feel secure in her surroundings.
We moved to the rental house in May and within a couple of months I was hinting that we could now finally have a dog. Two weeks before Christmas, Shell surprised us with a Basset Hound puppy and that is my Willow. She is tri-colored and was 3 days shy of 8 weeks when we got her. I wanted a puppy, but once we were out of her puppy phase, I knew I'd never do it again. After we bought our house, we registered with the Basset Hound Rescue and that is how we got our Joe. He is red and white and was very skinny and skittish when he first came to us, but he got along great with Willow and we all fell in love with him. They are still great buddies and really so much fun. It's hard to think that they are basically middle aged now because they run through the house and up and down the stairs so often, like puppies would. But they are getting a little more white around their eyes and noses and sometimes it looks like it's not as easy for them to get up after laying down for a long time, like they used to. But they are very loved and we truly enjoy being their pet parents.
Willow and Joe