Written By Galen White
Growin’ up on a small farm gave me the opportunity to claim several different kinds of animals as pets. Sure, I had a dog like most of you did. You’ve all read of me tellin’ ’bout how Dixie played the role of a 700 pound lion, and how Tarzan, portrayed in an Oscar winnin’ performance by yours truly, would tackle, rassle, and subdue into submission the lion.
Other times she was another of the great apes, swingin’ through the jungle on vines that stretched throughout the jungle canopy. Of course, Dixie never did learn how to hold onto a vine properly. On the other hand, she might have been smart enough not to try very hard. At least she didn’t fall ten feet and flat on her back, after a rotten vine broke in the height of its momentum. Tarzan can tell you all about it.
Dixie wasn’t the only animal that I called a pet. There was the time I tried to convince one of the wild cats that hung around our barn, that she should be a pet. She played a much better role as a real 700 pound lion! And I looked like one of the gazelles the lion had captured for supper! I won’t go into detail of my verbal description of that…., that…., %$9#4@ animal!
Many years ago, Mr. Thurman Morgan was the County Agent, and represented the Claiborne Parish 4-H Club. My older brother, Jerry, was in the 4-H Club and showed a calf or two at the fair. Mr. Thurman would come by and visit with Jerry, while lookin’ at his show calf. He’d give Jerry suggestions and comments on how he was comin’ along.
Well, I figured if Jerry could do it, so could ol’ Galen. Now, you gotta understand that I was only five, six, or seven years of age at the time. But in my mind, I was plenty grown up and over-endowed with smarts. Seemed to me my problem was the calves I picked out just didn’t have the constitution to learn how to pose and follow my lead. They paid about as much attention to my instructions as Dixie did when I tried to get her to hold on to the grape vine!
There was one calf, however, that was gentle enough that I could at least pet her. She was the only calf that I’ve ever seen that was cross-eyed. That’s right; cross-eyed. If I stood in front of her, she would turn her head to one side or the other to look directly at me. Of course, there’s some of you out there that firmly believe she did that so she wouldn’t have to look at me head on. I may have been homely, but just don’t believe I was THAT ugly.
And then there was the pig. I don’t know if you are aware, but pigs are smart animals. Smart enough not to be talked into becomin’ a pet like I wanted. They are hardheaded and headstrong; which outranks just hardheadedness – that was my forté. I never could convince myself that playin’ in the pen with all those hogs was much fun. Never could get used to the smell.
Now, this next pet here…, you ain’t gonna believe me. I tried my best to convince one of my Aunt Lou’s chickens to be a pet. Wait a sec! Don’t be too quick to think I was foolish. Can you imagine the attention I could have gotten had I come to town with a chicken sittin’ on my shoulder! Hey! Pirates got their parrot…., I’d have my chicken.
The good thing about havin’ a chicken as a pet would be I would never go hungry. As long as she’d lay an egg, I could eat. And if she quit…, well, I love fried chicken as much or moren’ anyone else I know.
There were other critters I called pets, too. Box turtles, or terrapins as I called’em, lizards, some snakes, fish, crawdads, muscles, tadpoles, topwaters, and graveyard grasshoppers all filled the description of an ol’ county boys pet. There was even an owl and a couple of rabbits. All were okay except for the muscles. I always fell asleep waitin’ for them to open up so we could do somethin’.
Yes, sir. Back in those days, pets were plentiful. Not very popular, perhaps, but plenty to choose from.
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.