WILKES-BARRE — As my birthday weekend passes, I want to take some time to talk about animals.
Sure I could use this space to talk about all those wonderful memories of my lifetime — and there are plenty — but no thanks. I mean, it was nice to post some pictures on the Facebook — me as a baby rolling down a hill in a wagon, me in a cowboy outfit, me all dressed up for Easter Sunday, me at the “Welcome to Commerce” sign when I did a pilgrimage to Mickey Mantle’s birthplace, me with mom and dad, me, me, me.
Enough about me. Yes, I am grateful to have been able to celebrate another birthday and I cherish having many, many more. But not to worry, there will be no cake with numerous candles to risk fire code violations. I choose to celebrate with a quiet dinner, maybe a movie and Yankee baseball — win or lose.
There are so many friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances who I would love to spend time with — just to give anyone interested the opportunity to get to know “the real me.” Not many do. And even those who do, most times don’t really get me.
I have had many good moments, several not so good and a few that I would care to not recall. It’s called living and learning. I’ve done that — in fact I have a Ph.D. in Life Experience Learning.
And this job I have, well, it’s the best use of whatever talents and brain matter I have. Every day is a challenge. I wake up and head to the newsroom, never completely sure of what the day will bring. And those days have brought me to many people, stories and memories.
But today, I want to talk about two, ummm, pals of mine — Becky and Lily.
Becky was my neighbor’s (Barbara) dog — the cutest little Bichon Frise who absolutely stole my heart. Becky was the best dog I have ever known. She was beyond cute and cuddly and she loved her treats. She also had an insatiable sweet tooth.
On one Christmas in particular, I had purchased some Jon L. Stopay Peanut Butter Chiffons for a dear friend — actually, Becky’s human grandmother, Mrs. Shevock. Anyway, as family and friends were gathered in Becky’s human mother’s home, Becky suddenly appeared walking across the room with those Peanut Butter Chiffons clenched in her teeth. It was as if she was saying, “I got my present, see you all later.”
We had to stop her and explain that those were not for her.
One time, I left a wrapped box of peppermint patties on a bench in Becky’s house. A few hours later, Becky’s human mom called to ask if I had left a box of candy in her house, to which I responded, “Yes, why?”
Well, Becky had found the peppermint patties, tore open the box and ate all the contents. Thank God she got sick and barfed them all up, leaving a dark chocolate stain in the middle of her human mommy’s living room rug.
It took a lot of cleaning supplies and elbow grease to clean that mess up.
Forgivable sins of a little dog who you couldn’t help but love.
I would take Becky to the groomer to get all gussied up. When she was done, I would take her to the pet store for treats. I would walk Becky into the store and everybody would fuss over her — especially when she had those pink ribbons in her hair.
Becky was special and I miss her dearly. When she was nearing her 14th birthday, Becky got sick. It was awful to watch her decline and the vet said there was no hope. Becky had to be euthanized. I was there, but I wish I wasn’t. It was an awful experience, but the memories of that little white charmer will never fade. Becky was my buddy.
And then there was my Lily. This was a cat that did not see the good in almost any human. I mean it took a long time for her to realize that I was the source of treats for her and if she was good to me, I would reward her properly with her favorite snacks.
Lily was my constant companion. She softened over the years and actually got to the point where she would cuddle with me and allow me to pet her. Every day when I got home, Lily would be at the top of the steps waiting for a belly rub, and a treat or two.
I realized Lily loved me when she would constantly pace and meow whenever I started packing a duffel bag to go on a vacation. She knew I would be gone for a few days and I knew she would miss me — probably as much as I would miss her.
And when she died at 19-and-a-half, I cried. I miss her every day for so many reasons.
So as another birthday comes and goes, I just wanted to say how much I miss these two furry friends.
And I urge all pet owners to value every day you have with yours.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]