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Making a Mark...

An Army brat, I didn't have a pet in my home until I was entering into my teen years and we were finally living stateside. Transferring post to post 'in country' then allowed us to have a dog at last. My parents were both animal lovers so for the remainder of my dependent child days we always had animals about, more often than not they were of the canine persuasion.

We loved them, we lost them and we mourned them. On several occasions after we had buried a pet I remember hearing my mother say, "That's it, I'm done - I can't go through this again - it's too hard."

A bit of time would pass and a neighbor's dog would have a litter of little Heinz pups and my mother could be easily won over as we placed a small puppy in her arms. And, as in every home that ever had a pet (even though we would promise to walk the dog, feed him, empty the cat's litter pan, etc.) the work-a-day care of the animal always fell to my mother. And - I suspect she loved it.

I do know that when I became the 'mom' and listened to the same litany of promises I knew full well that although everyone would play, cuddle and love the pet - the care of said pet would be mine.

When we bought the home we still live in down the Jersey Shore we had one dog and one cat. Introducing the two pets to the backyard I came across, tucked under a corner of the small stoop leading to the backdoor, a piece of slate about 18 inches square.

Reading what was scratched out on the slate - probably with a penknife - I saw that it was a marker for a pet buried there several years prior.

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