Monday, October 7, 2013

Animals I Have Loved

ANIMALS I HAVE LOVED
 by Frances West


Sitting here in my easy chair with my spoiled old cat in my lap I begin to reflect on all the animals that have played a role in my life. In my “growing up” years the animals were not just our pets and friends, they were a major part of our livelihood. My husband once asked if we named our animals. It never was thought they wouldn’t have a name the same as any family member.
There was a great team of work horses that our Dad would use to plow gardens and haul whatever needed to be hauled in the big wagon. The team's main job in the summer months was at the lumber camps in northern Idaho where it was the major machine for the loggers. The horse's names were Charlie and Jack and they worked long and hard hours without complaint. My father worked with them from dawn to dusk, caring for them the best he could given the work they had to do. He rested them, watered and fed them each night before he had his own supper. I can remember seeing him brush their coats with a “curry comb” after removing their heavy harness. It would be like us humans getting a back massage. They were indeed “gentle giants”. Charley was the bigger of the two and Jack seemed content to let him be the leader and sort of followed along with whatever was expected of him.
We had two milk cows that I can remember plainly. They were called Margaret and Patty. They were good friends it seems. Again, Margaret was the bigger of the two and the leader. Patty was content with her role as the follower. I always attributed these cows for actually saving my life. It was my job to call them in from the pasture for their evening milk time. It was an easy job as they were eager to be milked at the end of the day. I would merely stand at the top of the hill when they could see me and call to them. They would come lumbering home with full udders and hungry for their food and water. One evening when I went to call them I turned back to look at our house and saw it was on fire and burning rapidly. It was an old house and quickly burned to the ground with all of the content and our little dog. If I had not gone for the cows at that time I would have been trapped upstairs with the little dog. So therefore I have always felt good about cows and the fact they probably saved my life.
We had numerous dogs through the years. There were two collie dogs whose names were Old Red and Lady. Seems natural the animals were in pairs, sort of like us humans; one a leader and one a follower. Lady was the female and followed Red around. They were both very gentle and we all loved them dearly.
There were always cats around, mostly barn cats, and being the independent creatures that they are, never seemed to have a special partner. Only one or two privileged ones were allowed in the house. The others stayed in the barn where they were given fresh cow’s milk and hunted tasty mice. The house cats had names. We never considered not naming one of the animals so in answer to the question, “Did your animals have names?”? Yes, indeed, they did.