Wrigley Birong

I grew up in a dog family. My father was particularly fond of German Shepherds, so it seemed we always had at least one in the house at any given time over the years.

Dogs aren’t the only pets one might find in a typical American household, of course. Felines are in abundance (cat families.  We weren’t really a cat family, although I do seem to recall Mom owning a cat at one time, but it was after I had grown and moved out. Wait, though, it might have been a Chihuahua), but we also share our respective living quarters with everything from chickens to ducks to baby piglets to anacondas to tarantulas (tarantula families – I suppose they don’t get much in the way of company dropping by). Consequently, our homes become the primary training ground for teaching our kids how to get along with the all these animals with whom we share this world.

But even if one were fortunate enough to be raised in a family that enjoys the company of various family pets, understanding the nature of some of these creatures and learning how to deal with them can still be a challenge: For example, have you ever wondered which end of an octopus is the front? Is that enormous bulge his nose or does he just have a really big butt? I have a gaze of raccoons that live in the woods behind my house. They saunter up onto the patio from time to time and peer curiously through the sliding glass door. Apparently casing the place. I am hoping they don’t figure out how to climb up on the roof. This concern is borne from the fact that they did learn how to climb up on the roof of my shed out back and apparently being too lazy to do in the woods what a bear does, choose to do so on the roof of my shed (this behavior becomes particularly annoying if one has the need to enter the shed shortly after a rainstorm).

As an aside, I recently learned that having sex with a dog in North Carolina is considered a crime of nature and is officially against the law there. One can only speculate as to why the state legislature felt it necessary to carve out that particular activity. But then, one never knows what North Carolina’s lawmakers are going to come up with next.

Clyde’s dale

I’ve always loved horses. Probably because, as I’ve noted in earlier essays, I was raised on a seemingly unending series of TV westerns during my childhood back in the 50’s (remember this? Cowboys and Cowgirls)…


If you have ever enjoyed a box of Cracker Jacks you may recall that each box includes some kind of semi-excellent prize. I quickly learned that those trinkets, along with the peanuts, usually settled to…


    An important caution here: I, too, have raccoons that ‘do their duty’ on the roof of my studio. I learned some time ago that there are certain compounds in raccoon poop that, when dried and inhaled, can cause serious illness in humans. more specifically, raccoons are the primary host of Baylisascaris procyonis, a roundworm that can be harmful to people. Roundworm eggs are passed in the feces of infected raccoons, and people become infected by ingesting eggs. Anyone who is exposed to environments where raccoons frequent is potentially at risk. Be careful when cleaning up dried racoon poop….the spores can become airborne and enter the lungs through inhalation.
    Groucho Marx once observed that ‘…outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog it’s too dark to read.’ What could be better than a dog friend? Cats are just fine too, though. We have a pair at our house and find them delightful. Love them all!
    Thanks, Skip, for another wonderful post.

    Hah! Your cautionary comments are appreciated. Fortunately, there is no chance of me ingesting any of those eggs–it just takes forever to crack enough of them for a decent-sized serving.

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