To be honest, when I was raising four sons,
I didn’t consider any of the family pets as
“furred children” (I never heard the term
until I met my friend, Sharon).
It was enough of a challenge, I believed,
having four boisterous, overactive, noisy and
demanding human children, let alone cats and
dogs, (often with offspring of their own) —
we also had hamsters, turtles, fish, white rats,
guinea pigs and a double yellow-headed parrot
that went all the way to and from Florida with
us in 1979, returning to California in 1982.
Along with a steady assortment of cats/kittens
dogs/puppies, It was quite enough seeing that
they all got the necessary vaccinations (children
and pets alike) and making sure all the critters
were fed and watered properly and duly licensed
to live in Los Angeles county.
After my sons turned into young men, who
married and had children of their own, I turned
my attention, perhaps more attentively, to the
cats and dogs, plus one parrot, who shared my
None, I confess, ever changed my life quite as
much as the Jack Russell terrier (mixed with some
chihuahua) named Jackie, who, admittedly,
was terribly spoiled and ruled the roost. (she
was an abandoned dog that my son Steve
Jackie had her own blankets (on all three beds
plus one on the futon); she loved to climb in
my lap and pretend she was a lap dog;
Jackie would pretend to go outside to go
potty, then dashed back inside, all perky,
dancing around the kitchen hoping for a
treat. Sometimes I was so amused, she got a
So who was training who?
I wrote the above tribute to Jackie back
in 2009. a few years later we came to
the end of the road, Jackie and me.
Illnesses and blindness got the best of
her and after some months of trying to
cope, I got my daughter in law to go with
me to the Vet, to have Jackie put to sleep.
She was in my arms throughout, happy to
be the center of attention. I thought I had
coped very well–until, a few days later, a card
came in the mail, from the Vet, with her paw prints inside
The flood gates opened up then, and I boohooed for
some weeks. To give myself solace, I copied photos I had taken
of Jackie over the years, and dedicated pages to her.
She was my first “furred child”.
Sandra Lee Smith
March, 2009; updated June, 2018.