Always different, never the same. That is why we have varied actions and reactions. The last time we got together that may be the last ever was at Dad’s funeral over the holidays.

I am eldest and was the dreaded word “babysitter” as when I was 11 my parents would leave me in charge of three kids. I went away to college before they were grown and they resented me for it.

Little sister, I tried to put her up to the bed at bedtime but preferred for her to stay up by the windows and await our parents’ arrival. Then she’d run back to bed before their car arrived. We had time, it was a country road.

My brother was the trouble maker. He would do anything like climbing the tv tower at age three. Then he’d tell on himself saying “Mommy, I’m not being ‘haved” and she would hug him. Nothing he could ever do was wrong in Mom’s book. He ended up Dad’s best bud and executor of his will, as he should have been.

Baby sis was a standout from day one. Oh, I was not allowed to see her in the hospital but folks came home and they said they were naming her “Chipmunk” because of her cheeks. I said no way, you already saddled me with a name the teachers cannot spell or speak. They were joking. She has a nice name.

We had a little dog back then, a rescue that was huge in the winter then had a summer cut to keep her from burrs et al. She was a basement and outdoor dog and I wish I’d known Dr. Dog’s theory that a backyard dog is a dog without a home, back then.

That advice was not around when I was eight, I’d have known it from PBS. Our dog is sleeping on our bed with my husband right now. She is old and lets us know when she wants her only toy, Precious, or to go out again. She is great in elevators, with people, other dogs (except hateful ones where she steps away) and even cats.

I’ve had some wonderful shelter pets in my life and do consider them family, not siblings. Believing that one’s pet looks like you is one thing, I do believe you chose them to act like you, to show your persona to the outside world.

Everyone knows our old girl. Someone told me years ago that I was a terrible person and should never have been born. My girl is my presence in the world and anyone you meet in several neighborhoods around the country will tell you that we’re good people and dogs and that we go out of our way to care for others of the human, canine and feline societies. Ghostbusters aside, Bill Murray would have liked dogs and cats living together, as it always worked for me. Dogs used to run away from home to visit my cat. I’d get a call at 7:00 a.m. “Is he there?” Hold on, I’m at my desk. “Yep.”

“I’ll take him inside until you get here.” They used to go out through their garage to get the newspaper, dog ran. We had a system. He also had play dates outside with next-door neighbors, three different-sized Shisa dogs and the Shi-Tzu used to wrestle with him.

A Corgi also caught his eye. The dog used to put my cat’s head inside its’ mouth and he thought it was great! He ended up living with them for a couple of years as after I married my husband was deathly allergic to cats. I believe coyotes lured him off his back yard tree house and maybe he was ready to go as he was nearing ten years.

Family is what one does with blood and friends. If we are lucky we each make a family for ourselves. I’ve the Three Musketeers and many more around here, plus others, one of which you can put a prayer in for, a mentor for over 25 years who is in hospice care, another who is in an assisted care facility and calls me her daughter. Dee


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