Spoiler alert: this is the last line of my newest picture book, SOME PETS.
Though, when I was a kid I don’t think I would have ever agreed with that statement, most likely because when I was a kid I had the worst pet in the world, Bootsie.
The only photo of Bootsie in existence. All cuddled up with my Gram shielding me from her claws and teeth.
I was 4-years old when my mom finally caved from months of relentless badgering for my dream pet—a kitty. A kitty I could sleep and snuggle with, dress up in adorable outfits and push around in a stroller…but what I got was something very different. Sure, Bootsie looked like a sweet and loveable calico cloud of grey, orange and white fluff on the outside, but beneath that furry exterior lurked a miniature rabid Siberian tiger. There was no way that cat was going to let me accomplish my 4 year-old dream of pushing a Holly Hobbie bonnet-wearing furbaby around in a lacy pram. Instead, my arms became Bootisie’s scratching posts, my ankles her chew toys and my Mom’s favorite shag carpeting, her litter box.
Despite these shortcomings, I still loved her. But, after several months of hissing, spitting, scratching and peeing, my mom had endured enough.
Looking back, I have vague memories of Bootsie’s departure. Mom said something about, “a farm where Bootsie can run and play all day, happy and free.”.
Fast forward 30-plus years: I was allergic to cats, (which is just as well as I think Bootsie showed me that I was not a “cat person”) and I was now a Mom who was relentlessly badgered by my 4-year old daughter, Sophia, for her dream pet—a puppy.
Sophia illustrates her bond and affection for her pup (and like many little girls she also wants a pony).
As a parent, I wondered if a 4 year-old was too young to care for a dog? Did I want to spend the hours potty-training and caring for a puppy and a preschooler? What if it turned out to be the dog counterpart to Bootsie? Would I have to resort to “the farm”? However, I recalled how, like Sophia, I was an only child who desperately wanted a fur-sibling. I finally caved and began combing through countless pet profiles listed on animal rescue websites, determined to avoid (what I now dubbed) “The Great Bootsie Fiasco of ‘77” and find our perfect pet. A dog we could give a fur-ever home to.
And, we did.
Our modern girl's version of a bonnet- matching superhero capes.
I have no idea what breed our dog is, but Sophia dubbed her Mimi The Wonder Dog, “because we always wonder what breed she is.” And we get asked that a lot because Mimi is such an adorable, sweet pup. Sure, she barks when the doorbell rings, steals shoes and pees when she gets excited, but luckily there is no shag rug.
Thanks to our friends at Thomas J O’Connor Adoption Center, Mimi became the newest member of our family and for that I am fur-ever grateful. Grateful for the love and affection she shares, the laughter and beauty she has brought to our lives (and for the ending she has given me to SOME PETS).
The other day Sophia told me that Mimi is her best friend. “What makes her your best friend?” I asked. “What makes your best friend your best friend? “ she countered. I thought carefully before I answered, “My best friend is always there for me. They make me feel better when I’m down. They listen to me when I need to talk. They make me laugh and they love me.” Sophia smiled and replied, “Yup. Just like Mimi.”
Soph and Mimi, her BFFF- best fur-friend forever.
SOME PETS, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel, the sequel to the “bright” and “breezy” (Booklist) SOME BUGS, will be released on August 23rd from Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster,
“The plot is a celebration of diversity, both human and animal,as everyone cavorts and cuddles.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Bouncy verse, playful illustrated details, and abundant affection between animals and humans add up to an exuberant reminder of the joy that having a pet can bring.” — Publisher’s Weekly