The first pet I remember having was our cocker spaniel/terrier mix named Sandy we got when I was 5. Since then, I have had mice, hamsters, hermit crabs, fish, a snake, turtles, a parakeet, a few cats and lots of dogs.
In the 1980s at Lake Berryessa, my buddy Ben Kusaka found a king snake and was trying to grab its tail. When he finally got ahold of it, the snake struck at him, so he hurled it. Fortunately I was looking and ducked or it would have wrapped around my neck causing a “Fred-Sanford-comin’-to-join-you-Elizabeth” massive heart attack.
It was fun watching Ben’s pet snake eat feeder mice. Well, not for the mice.
Other locals shared pet tales:
Tanja Duncan: I had a cat named Sid who would fetch plastic bottle caps and return them to you, liked people food – especially Chinese– would sit on the couch watching TV like a human (paw resting on the couch’s arm) and loved showers. No joke! He was my first pet and unique. Miss him a lot.
Doug Rodgers: I trained a cockatiel to say “Freeze!” when the front door opened. I had studied criminal justice at Sacramento State and thought it would be cool to teach him that. Also, when I said, “Peaches, be an eagle” he would duck his head down and spread his wings. Great bird, he lived 31 years.
Michelle McNeice Cummings: My parents decided that Santa was going to bring a hamster to my brother and me for Christmas, but we had dogs and Mom was afraid they would get to them under the tree. So Christmas morning, there sat a hamster habitat with a note saying our hamster was waiting at the pet store. The funny thing was that note was written in mom’s handwriting. A few things were revealed that year . . .
Paula Lindsey: I will never forget the day at Thiessen’s Feed and Pet store when a lady was looking at the aquariums while Sam Butler was feeding live goldfish to a 12-inch Arowana. Right in front of me and the lady, Sam grabbed a goldfish and seemed to plop it into his mouth. The lady freaked and started yelling. He just smiled. To this day I have no proof that Sam really swallowed that fish, but knowing the man he was and is, I know he did.
Chris Digiorgio: We had a cat that was fond of sleeping on top of the open garage door. One day he was too slow jumping off when someone pushed the button to close the garage door. In a panic he tried to climb up the door as it closed and almost made it but was left hanging by his neck, head inside, body and paws outside.
Fortunately, the garage door was out of alignment so it was unhurt, just stuck. A neighbor saw this and ran over knocking on the door frantically and said, “Did you know your cat is hanging from your garage door by its neck?” Being the witty prankster I was back then, I replied “Why yes, of course, we know that. Why do you ask?” My mother was not amused. We ran to open the garage door; the cat slid down the front, gave us a very mean stare for a few seconds and then walked away with its eight remaining lives. I had the job of filling in the claw marks and repainting the door as punishment for being a smart aleck to our neighbor.
Nancy Ferris-Fulbright: I had a chipmunk that I bought at the pet shop on Texas Street when it was still legal to sell them in California. Chatty was the cutest little thing and would hide in my dad’s shirt pocket and stick his little head out for food.
Patricia Mason-Wiley: When my brother Bill was in the Armijo Super Band and Ray Lindsey was band director, we had a 185-pound St. Bernard named Brandy. Lindsey came to the house with Bill one night and Brandy . . . well, let’s say he took a liking to Lindsey’s leg. Lindsey looked straight at my rather red-faced mother and said “Friendly, isn’t he?”
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].