Do you remember YOUR first pet as a child?

Animals, specifically dogs and cats have been a BIG part of my life..I have always had a pet and continue to do so..

I grew up on a farm..cows, pigs, horses, chickens, sheep, pigs, turkeys, and the like, along with a variety of pets…rabbits, budgies, hamsters, and a herd of dogs and cats.

My father, the provider, the farmer, the chairman of the school board, and aficionado of Johnny Cash was NOT your typical ‘animals should be living outside’ kind of guy.

He was a big softie, and all of our dogs and cats lived in the house; my mother long since gave up on trying to keep our home free of animal hair. My room was a mixture of stuffed toys, dog fur, hacked up cat hair balls, the occasional dog bone, and the occasional mouse which escaped capture..

When I think about growing up, my strongest memories perennially revolve around my pets.

Do you remember YOUR first pet as a child?

It evokes such a strong feeling and warm memories for me.

My first pet was dog called Horace, a ‘snorting’ not especially intelligent and slightly overweight Pug.

He had one damaged eye ( as a result of a KICK from a cow); you could never really tell if he was looking at you, and I often wondered what he was really thinking.

Horace had the belief that he could do what the other ‘Big Dogs’ on the farm were doing. He attempted to herd the sheep ( unsuccessfully), chase in Gordina the Milk Cow, and ‘guard’ the house and farm from intruders.

Horace was not well suited to Farm Dog duties- he seldom EVER herded animals in the right direction, and if the weather was inclement- too hot, too cold, too wet- he would not even leave the house.

Behavior- ah not so good. In spite of dog training attempts, he was never even able to master the basics of sit, stay, or come here. My Horace played to his own piper, and did whatever he wanted.

Snorting, snuffling, wheezing and hacking pervaded my bedroom, making sleep at times difficult-but I loved the background noise, and that little pug.

One Sunday afternoon my father had his 3 sons helping to work on his old antique car. It was a warmish September afternoon, and Horace was jumping in and out of the car while we pretended to drive it.

Tragedy struck.

A neighbor stopped to visit, Horace fell asleep under the vehicle.

He died instantly under the weight of a thousand pound truck.

My father picked him up off the road, cradling his limp little body in his arms.

We all cried- myself, my brothers Michael and Ian, and my Dad. I felt this huge sense of loss, and intense pain. Of all my losses up till that time in my life, including my Grandparents, I had never felt so sad.

Looking back on that time, Horace gave me the most joy, and most sorrow, I have ever experienced.

Dr Andrew

P.S. I would appreciate your feedback…

Leave a comment if you please 🙂

53 thoughts on “Do you remember YOUR first pet as a child?”

  1. So far the content is excellent, but I hope you have a proofreader for spacing/punctuation typos. =} In sentence two, you listed pigs twice–intentionally? Looking forward to the finished product!

  2. Wonderful excerpt, you made me cry. Like you we always had dogs growing up, we lived in apartments back in my country but still we had dogs and the first i remember is a cocker, called Diana..we called her “yanayana” crazy little dog always getting into trouble.

  3. This is affected writing and not your normal style. This is rather choppy with poor sentence structure. You have written better in the past. Please don’t lead off a book with this sad story. It does not make me want to read further.

  4. I will be honest as I think that is what you are asking for.

    Your writing style kept me interested to read everything. I am not partial to Pugs, but you made me ‘like’ Horace, so much so that I was saddened by his tragic death. The writing style is simple and easy to read. Not sure about some of the grammar but no doubt the manuscript will be edited, though I feel that through your writing style I am able to get a nice picture of who you are personally.
    I liked the small piece you asked to be reviewed. Keep going with the book. I think it has potential. Reminds me in a small way of “All things great and Small” by James Herriot. My Advice: Include lots of pictures! 🙂
    Hope this helps.

  5. My first pet was a Siamese, Tiki. She actually was my Mom’s girl, but she tolerated me. I wasn’t the kind of child who mauled or abused her so she stuck by me while she didn’t like most people. In fact, one of my vivid memories was her sitting on top the refrigerator swatting at anyone who walked by! Then she’d meow at the top of her lungs to let them know they were invading her turf. She would wake up with me every morning before school by meowing and noodling me and have breakfast with me. I was only 6 at the time. My Dad worked graveyard shift and Mom would stay up and go to sleep with him so I was on my own come morning. She lived to be 26 not before going blind and not making the litter box. She died in Mom’s arms.
    Later after my sister and brother were born my parents knew Tiki could not tolerate the little ones so they got us a reject Siamese (too small, wrong coloring, etc.) we named Missy. Missy was amazing. We dressed her in doll clothes, she’d ride around in my brother’s radio flyer. She even let them squeeze and maul her. She lived at home with my parents after we all moved out, but waited for my brother, Bobby to come home after his first tour of duty in the Navy and died in his arms. I believe she always had a soft spot for him. It makes me cry just remembering them. I can imagine how you felt when Horace died. I look forward to your daily emails and hope all is well with you and your family and extended family of pets. God Bless.

  6. Andrew,
    well written and you bring your story to Life in such a wonderful way.I experienced being part of it and I felt the loss of Horace and also enjoyed him. I wish you well with your book.
    A grand story.
    All the best,
    Helen Anderson
    Blue Mountains

  7. Just perfect! You are quite the story teller. You were able to grab my attention right from the beginning and hold it to the end.

    Continue like this, and you have a bestseller on your paws… I mean hands.

  8. Wow, that was a moving story, I think the reason we sometimes feel like we’ve got stronger emotions for our pets than our people is because relationships with people are so much more complex, whereas our relationships with our animals are strong and pure. There’s nothing there except raw emotion, that is until you get old enough to worry about them dying from health issues, than you may find yourself at times trying to distance yourself from that indulgent sense of love…but of course for the serious animal lover, that doesn’t tend to work that well. We always end up getting our emotions immersed into the existence of our furry friends any way, where sometimes we’ll even pass up looking after ourselves to make sure they’re taken care of first.

    In light of the fact that this is an excerpt from your book, will it be animal care stories from your life and work than?

    Have a wonderful day,


  9. I like what I read – I too remember not only my first dog, but each and everyone I have had thru my 60 years. Along with various cats, and horses.

  10. I am also a big softy. I never had a dog or cat as a child, just the requisite parakeet and fish, but once I was out on my own, I got my first feline, a siamese kitten, and as they say the rest is history. I am on my third generation of siamese and love each and everyone of them for their love and affection. I enjoyed your short example of your intended book and would encourage you to continue. Anyone with the kindness and dedication you have shown since I have been aware that you exist is bound to be able to write a best seller. Good luck!

  11. Great beginning!

    Very interesting and heart wrenching. This reminds me of a book written by an English veterinarian. It was quite famous. Your book is so real and touching.

  12. My first pet was an American Cocker Spaniel. My Dad brought her home to us as a surprise. Lady was the first of a long line of dogs and cats I have shared my life with, and I have had a special relationship with each of them. I look forward to reading more of your book as I enjoyed the first bit.

  13. I enjoyed your story very much. Almost made me cry as right now I am keeping my daughters black pug and she had lost her fawn pug in 2004 in a flood. So I know how special pugs can be. I also love the fact that you are such an animal lover and that your Dad was too. We were never allowed to keep animals in our house growing up. Our first dog was a little terrior mix. He lived a very long time but had to be an outside dog. Please continue your book. Don’t worry about punctuation and grammer. Thank you for sharing such a sweet story.

  14. good luck with the book!! it has great potential….but please…dont make it too depressing….i could not bear to read alot of stories of animals passing away!! good luck!!

  15. Looking great Doc!! My first pet was a beautiful gingercat called Buffy. When us kids were in school in the morning, he would go around from house to house and visit the housewives for a little snack and chat. He always left my best friends house for last, just before we came home for lunch. She lived right across the street from us, which made it easy for him to come and hang with us when we came home for our lunch break. On one of the saddest days of my entire life, Buffy was hit by a speeding car, crossing the street, on his way home to meet us for lunch. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
    When is your book going to be finished? I can’t wait to buy it =)

  16. I enjoyed reading the excerpt, and was amazed at how easy I was taken in by your story.
    Please keep on writing this book, for there are lots of animal lovers out there who would enjoy it from beginning to end.
    Best of luck!!

  17. Really touching and true!I wish you all the best for this book..Is inspiring for all of us to learn how to love and cherish Almighty’s creation.Good going!

  18. Having just buried Taffy, our Cairn Terrier of 13 years, I can certainly relate to your story. I’m not sure if this excerpt is a first chapter or an outline of the book, but I would have liked to spent a lot more time with Horace before hearing about his untimely death. If this story is about your first pet, then let’s get some more information about him. More stories, special memories, scary moments (the cow incident), funny moments, moments that touched your heart. Maybe these are what you are going to write about in the rest of the book, but if that’s the case, personally I wouldn’t write about his death in the introduction. It makes his death seem as important as his life. Also, you really don’t decribe what happened to Horace. You certainly implied how he died, but your writing got very abbreviated in this section. Certainly his passing deserves more than the treatment you’ve given it here. Also, unless you plan on use this technique through out the book, I wouldn’t break the fifth wall and ask the reader a question in the middle of your story. It made me think about my first pet, which is fine, but it took me out of your story in doing so. This should be your’s and Horace’s story, not mine. I will be able to relate to it perfectly on my own with out you distracting me from the story at hand. Aside from that, I certainly would love to read more about Horace and the impact he had on your childhood.

  19. I really like it so far, I can tell your heart is in this book, you’re a true animal lover, saver, and I wish you were my vet here in the states.. Can’t wait to read more… :))

  20. I have to tell you, I really liked this story. Yes, it was sad, but it had an experience that nearly all people can relate to. We’ve all lost a first pet. I want you to know that I am eagerly waiting to find out what you have to say next in this new book.

  21. my first pet ducks a hammster and a cat so sorey to here about loosing your dog know how that a big barnowl killed my ducks and someone or something killed my cat my famly moved after we lost ours ducks and cats then we bought a diffrent house we got 2 more hamsters then a couple weeks later i got a cat i loved that cat she was the best i feed her played with her i loved her a lot i came one day and i could not find her i was so sad i cryed i loved that cat

  22. Having many pets in my life, I appreciate the unique personalities of each one. Reading about Horace was most enjoyable and you made me see him. Thank you, Andrew.
    I do enjoy most everything you write, so keep it up!

  23. Having had many pets in my life, I appreciate the unique personalities of each one. Reading about Horace was most enjoyable. You made me see him. Thank you, Andrew.
    I do enjoy most everything you write, so keep it up!

  24. I have enjoyed most of your writings in the past. Your latest story could be shorter and more positive; it is mostly negative. I am sure there are positive comments to make to balance the negatives! You asked for my comments, perhaps you would have whished I have not submitted them! Good luck with the book.

  25. I don’t agree with Tanya in comment 3 – the story is poignant and gives a feel for your background and how you developed the love of animals which pervades all your writing and tells the reader how you came to be strongly committed to the care of animals. It would make an excellent part of an introduction to your book. Please keep going – I look forward to reading the rest!!

  26. Your writing stirred up alot of memories for me. You had a better life with pets than I did. Unfortunately, I was a victim of child abuse and so therefore my parents inflicted the same amount of cruelty to my cats. Fortunately, I didn’t carry on the same way. I go out of my way, as an adult, to see to it that my cats and dogs get the best treatment and food,and I have worked with no-kill shelters as a foster.
    Keep up the good writing, and thanks.

  27. Poor little Horace…but he couldn’t have had a better life and had all the love in the world.
    Great story and a good telling.
    I remember our first dog, Red, a Cocker Spaniel. We didn’t have him for very long. My dad gave him to one of his sisters and her family. They had him until he died.
    When my parents bought their own home we got Misty, a German Shepherd mix. We had her for years and I was grown and out on my own before she died.
    My own first dog was an Afghan Hound we named Sativa. Because of divorce I was forced to give her to a friend. I’ll never feel good about that even though I’m sure she was loved and well cared for.
    I’ve switched to cats…13 of ’em!

  28. Dr.Jones,

    I enjoyed reading the excerpt,including ‘TYPOS’.Thank you for sharing part of your life & heart with us.I know how it feels to lose a pet..very painful.

  29. I immediately was captivated and interested in reading more, but I must agree with another reviewer it was very sad and when I clicked to read “similar to this” article another tragic very horrible story. I would love to read a book of your experiences but please, you certainly must have more pleasant stories to bring the reader back and make reader want to read more happy endings. Few of us animal lovers want to be further depressed by all the sadness and cruelty in the world. Write stories of animal justice! Where the animal has a happy ending to get us out of the depression when reading a sad story.

  30. Hi!! It is a great story. Yes, I do remember the first dog I ever had. It was a cocker spaniel who died 3 days before my dad died and I was heartbroken–always connected the deaths. Anxious to see your next posting.

  31. Dr Andrew,

    I enjoyed reading your reminiscence. Your love for animals comes through clearly, as does your Dad’s. As some readers have already pointed out, you might want to tell us more about Horace: how he got kicked by the cow, a little more of your daily routine with him, and so on. Just a bit more of Horace’s soul, so that when his life ends too soon, his death does not assume equal importance.

    Your question to the reader should probably come right at the beginning.

    We are all “on the same page” with you, though! Your story definitely tells us why you became a veterinarian! And your humor, and I think a bit of your Dad’s expansive spirit, remind me of a certain vet who practised in Yorkshire long ago!

    You will not only have many uplifting tales from your practise but also many cautionary stories of our over-reliance on Big Pharma veterinary protocols, so I expect that this book will be very worthy in many respects.

    Should you require some help, I’m a good proofreader and copy editor. Most of the errors I noticed are simple spacing and punctuation things that, with a bit of review, could quickly be put right.

    I wish you the best of luck with your book, and I hope you publish simultaneously in Canada and the US.

  32. Thanks for sharing your story of a first pet. Horace came alive for me, and when he died so innocently, it broke my heart. Since I am an old grandmother now, my life has taken me through many joyous moments with many, many pets. I’ve also lived through many tears shed over those pets. I loved any kind of animal stories as a child like Lassie, Bambi, Where the Red Fern Grows,etc. but I hated them for always making me cry a ton of tears.

    It’s nice to know you had the same kind of heart.

  33. yesI remember my first pet a dog. Other pets include bantam chickens and a monkey whose mother was killed. It slept with me and sat on my bicycle whenever went out. Eventually placed back in the wild in Rhodesia. I currently own 6 daxies 4 of them rescues wonderful for the soul. Keep up the inspiring articles you deserve to go far.

  34. I like your story,I too remember my first cat when I was a child.Keep going on.I don’t know you but I think you are a special person.

    Good luch in what you are doing.

    Thanks for your book,with respect Carmen.

  35. I enjoyed the poignant story about Horace-my first pet was Brownie a have dachshund, half fox terrier mutt who followed us everywhere and even tried to follow the car as we went to church-we had to put him in the other car, go out of the driveway, then let him out where he couldn’t see where we were going. Like Horace, poor Brownie met a tragic end, some kids threw a huge rock on his back when he was following us to church one Sunday, breaking it and forcing my father to take him to the vet to be put to sleep-he was only 2 years old. I never cried more in my life. I have had many dogs and cats through the years and remember each one as if it were yesterday and they are still with me-I currently have a sick cat that I will have to make a life or death decision for, I hope it is the right one. I think your book will be a great success and I wish you the best.

  36. ah. good story.

    that reminds me of Piewacket, my parents little tuxedo cat. she never was very large, in fact, she was fat at 7Lbs. she was 11 years old when i was born and she lived to be nearly 20. she was my furry little, big sister.

    it broke everyone’s heart when she had a massive stroke and had to be put to sleep. she couldn’t eat or drink. she still knew what water was, but she couldn’t remember how to drink it. it was so sad. we still miss her, all these years later.

  37. I loved it. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a dog, cat, bird, some animal of some sort. For the last 11 years, I’ve added skunks to my list of pets that have blessed my life. I just can’t imagine life without my pets. And that’s the feeling I get from this little synopsis. I look forward to the finished product. I believe it will be an awesome read.

  38. A charming and heartbreaking story that proves when you love someone be it human or animal they are always remembered with love.

  39. Great beginning! I think everyone can relate to the topic of their first pet. One suggestions – clarify the “tragedy struck” part (but not too many details). I had to read that twice to understand what happened to Horace 🙁

    I look forward to the book!

  40. My first pet was a yellow parakeet named Trixie. It got some sort of spasms where the foot came up and the wing went out and the foot was tearing up the wing. I held it all night long, with a tissue wrapped around it’s body (don’t know if it was a boy or girl) trying to prevent the continued carnage.

    It died in the early morning, but I still had to go to school. I was crying so hard the nuns sent me home from school. I was 8 years old.

  41. I LOVE your story. I am an animal lover myself.

    My first pet was a few ferril cats. My dad wouldn’t let me have a pet, so I got my own pets by finding a nest of newborn wild cats that roamed around our property. I played and played with these kittens everyday after school. When their eyes had opended up, they knew my scent. I spoiled them rotten. When they began eating, I would sneak food from the house to feed them. I was the only one that could touch them. They were only tamed by me. After they became adults, I would always find another nest of kittens around the house and spoiled even MORE kittens.

    I ended up counting the cats that would come to me by saying “kitty, kitty, kitty” and my last count was 32!!!

    Ha Ha, even my dad couldn’t keep me from having pets!!

  42. My first dog was a blonde Shepherd who was so strong, she would pull the washing machine when someone passed by our house. I am 70 so that is long ago but I never forgot her. Her name was Blondie!

  43. The excerpt from your book sounds as though it will make facinating reading. I for one enjoy stories about farm life and especially stories about dogs.

    I am on my 9th dog now and can say that when their time comes, it doesn’t get any easier having to say that final good bye.
    My first good bye was a family dog and sadly he got crashed into by a crowed of children and trodden on and badly frightened and snapped or bit someone. I never got to the bottom of what really happended as I was only about 12 at the time and matters were taken out of my hands. He was taken to the local dogs home and put to sleep. I grieved for him for a long time and I felt that he wasn’t really to blame. People in thoes days were not as aware of the importance of trainng a dog and not allowing it to get out on it’s own.
    Being from a large family it was all to easy for one of the children to let him out.

    There are thoes who think I spoil mine but they are friendly, well trained and I have loved them all to bits. One of my Collies made it to Crufts 2001 to compete in the Obedience Championship Competition there.

    Good luck with your book and I hope life is treating you well now that you have retired from treating animals.


    Jacquie Austin..Nottingham England.

  44. Saw the comment about pigs listed twice in 2nd sentence…typos will happen, that’s why the need for a proofreader. Also about not leading off with a sad story….I find the story heartwarming and compelling, but do believe it would be wise to have your last paragraph a bit upbeat. (Which I imagine it will be)…something that will lead you onto the next topic or the theme of the book.
    For ex. After “Horace gave me the most joy and the most sorrow I’d ever experienced” you might add something like “My experiences with Horace filled the entire spectrum from immense joy to intense sadness at losing him. Isn’t that the very definition of love? We can only grieve as deeply as we’ve loved.
    Thus began the madly passionate love and tenderness that inspired me to want to become a vet. To enable and encourage others to know that same animal/human bond that gives color to our everyday lives.” (Yup, lousy writing, but just trying to give an example)

    ONE thing I did notice that made it a bit difficult to understand was that you were talking about working on your dad’s car with your brothers and Horace in one statement and in the next say Horace fell asleep under THE vehicle, etc.
    I thought it was the antique car that you you lowered off the jack at first until it said TRUCK.
    I think it might be good to clarify this upfront just by saying “Horace fell asleep under HIS parked (or idling,etc) vehicle” asked for feedback.
    I loved the start….where are you going with the book? What is it’s theme? About becoming a vet? About stories/experiences with different pets? A memoir of boyhood days with your dad, etc??

    THat’s what I meant above as you need a lead to sentence to draw the reader into the REST of the book. You build a foundation, then hint at what the structure is that will follow.

    Keep writing Doc Andy!!!!

  45. My first pet was a dog named Happy Birthday! Got him for my 6th birthday, he passed away the day I had my first date with my now husband. That was a truly memorable day.

  46. I have lost three bulldogs in 2 1/2 months and one of mine who’s siter just died is mourning her loss, I have decided that I cannot get another bulldog and so I am going to get a pug. I now all about the loss of pets, and I am brocken hearted to. You never get over the loss of a pet you just find a place in your heart to lock it away and every once in a while you un lock it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *