Memories, Animals, and Holidays

I had to re-home my dog that I had for nine years. She was my daughter’s dog and she  did love me as well. I loved her very much but she was a lot to handle. I am working full-time and going to school online but it is still considered full-time. The dog is a lovable ball of energy yet she is very co-dependent. When my daughter went to go live with her dad, I lost my dog’s caretaker and the will to make my dog suffer without the love that she deserved. I’m sad and I miss my kid and I couldn’t take having the dog stuck in an apartment with no one to pay attention to her and not enough love; she’s a needy love bug.

I get why my daughter is mad at me for doing that but I had no other choice, or better yet, I had choices only between myself and my dog, place or no place. I know how much losing an animal hurts; I’ve lost too many but I’ll try to count. Thinking about losing an animal brought me back to how much I’ve been through. It sort of explains why it probably is much easier for me to handle than my sweet-hearted child.

We had 14 ferrets at one point. Someone that my mother knew had to re-home them for some reason or another. We had them in cages in the backyard and they were adorable. We kept one and named him/her Ferris. I can’t remember what the sex of the animal anymore or if I ever even knew. At the time we had several birds too. At one point my mother gave away the ferrets but let the birds go. There is no doubt in my mind that they could not survive now looking back. It was over ten birds that she just let go.

I also had a rat, and during the divorce my mother told me that I could not take it to my father’s house, should I choose to live with him. She also told us that my father was only fighting for custody of me. That thwarted wanting to leave my mother because I would be leaving my brothers, whom I loved very much. I think there was a point where she said that he was also just fighting for me and my middle brother because my oldest brother’s biological father was not the same. My father raised him though and has always considered him to be his child. I didn’t know that when I was little.

We moved to Konocti, and the first animal to go of mine was the rat right after she gained custody of us all. She said that we couldn’t keep it and let it go in the middle of a field. She told me that it would have found water and survived. The second one was my ferret, who was “missing” when I got home from visiting my father. She told me that my ferret was looking for me because I was gone and must’ve ran off. I called its name for days outside our house, heartbroken. That was the same year that my mother told me that every time I came home from my father’s house I was a “little bitch” and I stepped on the cherry of her cigarette which was somehow placed right underneath my foot when I went to run away.

My father got our dog that we grew up with. He was the sweetest. His new wife was very abusive to him and had encouraged us to “kick him”. I couldn’t do it. He was trying to jump on me. He was so excited to see me and he was locked up in a small yard and I felt so bad for him. He used to have so much love from us and a whole forest to run around in with us daily. I can’t remember if they said that he was run over or if he ran away.

There was a time after that, when we were visiting my mother’s best friend. She was with a very young man who ended up being her third husband, our first step-dad. We had gotten a kitten because he couldn’t say no to us. I recall my mother being very adamant about us not getting to have a kitten. When we were at my mom’s best friend’s house my mother called me over. The kitten was covered in liquid of some sort and it looked like it was in pain. I think that its leg was also broken. She told me that it probably drank some coolant and that’s why it was so weak looking. I don’t know how that would have explained the broken leg though. Part of the memory was her saying that it must’ve gotten caught under a vehicle but no one had been driving since we got there. She made my brother shoot it, right in front of me. My brother didn’t want to do it but she made him do it. She told him she didn’t want it to suffer. Looking back I know it was not true.

I had another cat after that. His name was Sox because of his white paws on his otherwise black fur. He was a good cat. I can’t remember if I found him in the yard or in the house with his back legs broken. My mother said that she had found him and had “dragged himself home for three days” to say goodbye to me. That happened to be how long I was gone at my father’s house. She said that his back legs were ran over. Thinking about it now that seems near impossible and the breaks, well, they weren’t consistent with that story. He died shortly after I came home but I didn’t see how he died; my mother just said that he died from all of the trauma. I remember digging the hole in the yard to bury him. We had buried a ferret nearby earlier that year because our neighbor’s dog attacked it. I don’t know why it was ever outside of the house in the first place.

We had a dog when she was married to her fifth husband. Her husband had one too and that dog was allowed in the house even though Maynard, our dog, was not allowed to be in the house. It was snowing outside and there was no cover for him. I hated seeing him in the window looking at us with his frozen beard. He liked to chase tires and someone ran him over in front of my middle brother.

We had a cat after that and she had two kittens. I don’t know what happened to the mom because she all of the sudden wasn’t in the picture and we had those two kittens. I’m not sure but I think my mom told me that she ran away because she didn’t want to take care of the kittens. When I went to go live with my dad I took the two kittens with me. My dad wouldn’t let me have them in the home. The kittens disappeared shortly thereafter and I was once again calling out for my pet(s) while losing hope with each passing moment. I looked all over the area for those kittens and never found them. My mother showed up shortly thereafter to visit my oldest brother who had been living in the camping sites near our home.

I bought a snake and an Iguana with my babysitting money. My mother gave away the Iguana; she really was quite the handful. The snake on the other hand I loved. His name was Hercules and he was about 6 feet long. I even took pictures with him at the mall. My mother dressed me in a crop top and a skirt with a slit up the side; I was 14 and I wouldn’t have worn those clothes on my own. When I came back from visiting my father my snake was gone. My mother said that he died. He did have an upper respiratory infection I think. I can’t remember the details but he was sick because he had been too cold for too long and I don’t know why. I was giving him shots to try to get him better. I don’t know what really happened to him.

Missy was a Boxer and she was my oldest brother’s dog. I very much loved that dog and she went everywhere with me. We didn’t have her for a long time and she gave her back to my oldest brother at some point. She had to be put down because she was getting confused at her old age. I think that was the only animal in the family that I knew from baby to, though it wasn’t natural but compassionate, death.

I miss my dog but I’ve already experienced enough loss. I just want the dog to be happy. Making my daughter unhappy was unfortunate and regretful but I meant nothing devious. I did not try to punish my daughter for going to her dad’s. The fact that she said that made me think of my mother all over again. Sociopaths do stuff like that; I am not my mother. Maybe she’ll see one day. I’m just glad she never had to experience the things that I did because some of those animals met a very bad end. With some of those animals, I will never know how they actually died; I have an inkling.

This is probably one of the reason why I don’t like the holidays because every time I went to go see my father it was around the holidays. It makes for not many good memories. I’ve tried so hard to forget all of those things but they come up sometimes. I hope that I can change that trend, for the sake of what Christmas is supposed to make me feel like, and for my sanity.

Author: jessicaambateman

I am a survivor of childhood abuse on the verge of speaking out. I have waited my whole life to have the luxury of spilling my guts and blogging is going to become part of that journey.

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