Saturday, September 13, 2008

animal house

     I was reading my brother's latest post on his blog,, which sadly narrates the passing of my niece and nephew's latest (and only) pets.  And that got me thinking...

    I was raised in a very full household; full of kids, full of animals, full of friends, sometimes even full of people who weren't exactly invited over, but regardless, it was a full house (Let's just say that I learned the art of hiding in my own house from certain people from our church who would literally walk right in.  Why bother knocking when the door is unlocked?).  But, anyway.  

    At one point there was even a rumor about us that circulated in the surrounding neighborhoods: the "family who lived in the round house on top of that hill had a house full of wild animals that basically had free reign." Now, I don't know if they were including me, my sister, and my brothers in the wild-animals-who-had-free-reign-category, but now that I think about it, maybe we should have been (and I use the term "we" in a very political sense of the word, meaning that I was never wild, of course, but I will include myself in an effort to be politic ;-)).   

   But here's the thing, we did have a lot of animals.  A ton.  Last night, I was having a hard time sleeping, so I decided to try to make a list of all the animals my family had while growing up...The list is not comprehensive, but here's what I came up with:
  • Horses: Shiloh, Misty, Caliente, Cup of Coffee (there were more, but their names escape me)
  • Dogs: Circuit Breaker (who was dognapped), Manna (who met a horrible end with a tumor growing out of her mouth--literally, kids would gasp and adults would quickly look away when she innocently trotted up to give her friendly hello), Aragorn (he was run over at least twice, which actually really calmed him down, but I can't remember how he eventually went to meet his Maker), Shadrach (mysteriously disappeared one day--mom and pop always told us that he knew it was his time to go and didn't want us to see him like that, which was both very clairvoyant and thoughtful of Shadrach, I think), Meshach, Fred (sorry, no Abednego but you were expecting that, weren't you?), Marshall (he was actually a little crazy, it turned out), Caspian (he was called home after being run over by Pastor Neil)
  • Cats: Precious, Luvie, Simpson, Joe Mama (the feral cat who lived in our barn), Curry and Bagera (both were Joe Mama's kittens, and are still living. In fact, Curry waits for my pop every night outside the Barn to walk him home from work and he also eats breakfast besides my pop every morning!  He's kind of like a dog.  Or a person if you think about the breakfast thing, I guess).  
  • Goats: to many to know their names
  • Chickens: same as above, but there was one rooster that lives on in our minds in infamy: Mr. T.  He was a bully and extremely mean--so mean, in fact, that he would chase kids around, just for sport.  He used to terrorize us!  One day my pop got so mad at him for chasing us that he decided to give Mr. T a taste of his own medicine and chased him around.  Well, Mr. T. had a heart attack and died (oops).  Nobody missed him, not even his mother.  This just goes to show that if you chase kids around for sport, you will die alone and not be missed by a single soul.  Now, if you chase kids around with good reason (say they took something that belongs to you, or perhaps you are playing tag and are "it"), then you are fine, with nothing to worry about.  You just need to learn when is appropriate to chase a kid, and when is not, is all; Mr. T. obviously never learned the difference between the two, and so died alone and un-mourned.  
  • Birds: 4 parakeets, 2 of whom were named Mr. and Mrs. Byrd
  • Ferrets: Snackers (the first time I brought her home, I took her out of her cage to show my pop and she bit my finger so hard that I literally dangled her from my hand.  My pop was like, ...Great...Jess...with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. In fact, thinking back, I wonder how much my pop ever really cared for her; when she died, he simply threw her away--in the dumpster!!! No respect, no Christian burial, no nothing...I can only hope her soul found peace)
  • Iguanas: Solomon Lancaster Cuxe (Jason named him, don't ask. And actually Solomon had the amazing ability to seemingly die and then miraculously come back to life...But I guess eventually, well, the dying-thing took)
  • Axelotels: This was Jonathan's lizard-thing.  I don't remember the name; it was hideous.  He escaped from his cage and his remains were recovered months later [shudder].  I guess we should just be grateful it was his remains that were recovered, and not ours!
  • Frogs: this was one of the worst things I have ever done, against the admonition of my brother, Jonathan, too (he would have said it, so I figured I would beat him to it).  The frog was this big, sturdy, verdant creature I caught at our stream and decided to take him home to live with me.  Well, he hopped into the no-man's land which was affectionately known as my closet and was not seen for a very long time.  Much like the axelotel, his remains were also recovered at some point in time. 
  • Bunnies: I got one for Easter one year.  He didn't live long--I think he was literally scared to death by one of our cats or something.  
  • ducks: a dear family from our church, the Palkovitz's, gave me two ducklings for my birthday one year.  It was awesome...Until our dogs got to them and I found them stretched out on our lawn with their little necks broken...
  • Fish: my parents have many beautiful and exotic Koi. When these Koi were very young, my mom let each grandchild pick one to name.  The only name I remember is the one Ollie chose.  He decided to name his fish after his favorite song at the time, forcing all of us to refer to the koi as Jesus, Lamb of God (in what we could only hope was an un-blasphemous manner) .  Of course the joke was that we never needed to worry about Jesus, Lamb of God, because if he ever died, then he would just come back to life again...
  • More Cats: Taliesin (Tally) and Persephone (Percy).  So I didn't grow up with these buddies, but they are very very special animals to me and Drew and I couldn't make a list of animals without including them...
      The rumor was exaggerated, but my parents were quite lenient in allowing us many pets.  None of them ever had the run of the house, though--that part was absolutely not true.  And though most of these animals are no longer on this earth, I am glad they were apart of my life for a time.  What is that saying?  It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all...Yeah, that's about right.  


jason said...

There weren't that many goats, there were two. Frisbie and Floria.

Jessica Latshaw said...

I remember tons! remember--the Meredith family took care of them--why would mom and pop have a whole other family come in just to take care of a measly 2 goats?!?!

Mom said...

The Merediths kept goat here too, I think, for a time period.

You and I share this great love of having lots of animals, but I don't think it worked that well for most of your siblings. Most don't want animals around now or just barely.

Of all these animals--some great, some not--my all time favorite was Fred who we got from the SPCA. Pop didn't want him and I had fallen in love with him. I asked Pop to pray about it--this is always Pop's downfall--so he did and God told him that Fred would bring us "years of joy." And was that ever true! I remember the unique way that Fred & Shadrak would hunt together, running alongside of me when I would ride. They were cooperation personified.

remember how I made you all drink goat's milk for awhile? Sometimes it smelled bad but we drank it anyway, the "pioneers" that we were.

Oh, Curry is NOT happy with me right now. He reminds me that he is actually my favorite animal of all time, not Fred. And I obey this cat. Yes, he's right Curry and Baghera, his sister whom Curry detests, are my favorite animals ever!

kathiek said...

You know, I was thinking, it's a shame we didn't build our church while you had all those animals. We could have put another sign out on the lane (The Latshaw Zoo and Natural History Museum) and charged admission. We could have easily paid the mortgage. Poor planning, I say. ;-)

merry said...

OK,first Marshall was a great dog. He was super nice to me. We had a talk one day and I think kids were mean to him and it made him cranky. Second, and forgive me if this is wrong, but I am almost positive that
Bruce ran over Aragorn one last time because I was really sad when it happened and I cried.

Peaj said...

Ferrets have souls? Huh.

Fred came to my wedding! That was so nice of him.

My daughter would love to live amongst many animals. Alas, the poor thing has to suffer her father's rules against pets, and so she must content herself with other people's animals.

Michele said...

I'm pretty sure Katie ran over Caspian (just to clear Neil's good name); and didnt' Aragorn have cancer??? Anyway, animals are awesome - I'm glad God gave them to us!

Jessica Latshaw said...

So mom, who is right--me or Jase?!?!
We had a bunch of goats, right?

And Merry--Marshall was a sweet dog, but he was a little strange in the head; this is not necessarily a bad thing; just because one is a little strange in the head does not mean that they are not worthy of love or are not good:-)

And pop--DID you run over Aragorn?

Peaj--of course ferrets have souls! (don't ask me where I get this theology, though)

Michele--hmmm, I am pretty sure that Neil ran over Caspian, at least that is what was finally told to me, once the truth surfaced (which, unfortunately, was months after the tragedy occurred). Now maybe Katie did it and Neil was her fall-guy; but I was told it was Neil, accidentally, of course.

Mom said...

Both you and Jase are right: WE only owned 2 (Jase's opinion) but you're right too: Meredith's kept a few goats there too.

Marshal was more than just strange. Remember he bit Lucy? He'd get this scary, yellow look to his eyes, bend down and glare at you, looking like Old Yeller after he got rabies. I'll have to disagree with you, Merry---Marshal was probably our worse dog ever. But, like people, he must have put his best foot (paw) forward when around most people.

Yeah, it was Neil who ran over Caspian. Thanks, Jess, for not telling the rest of the story (about me).

And Pop did run over someone; I think it was Aragorn. But the good news was the dog became a much better dog after being run over. I'm not recommending doing this to a pet, but it goes to show you that we can change behavior after encountering a critical event in our lives.

Pop said...

I also ran over Fred with the front wheel of my tractor, but he popped right up and kept on tagging along as I mowed or something.

And let's not forget that Jonathan ran over Curry, but he too somehow survived and is now a great cat who appears to be completely healed. Weird.