Ranch Kids Have Weird Pets

09 Apr

I firmly believe kids should have pets. They help develop a caring attitude and responsibility. Our kids had a full range of normal pets, plus a few non-normal (abnormal?) ones. They had dogs and cats, lambs, calves, pigs and the odd goat or two. By the time they were four, they each had their own horse.

Our daughter ran barrels and poles on the sweetest mare named Ammer. They were a great team. Our oldest son had two goofy horses, Bugsy when he was younger, and Ruff Luck Lynx, aka, Lucky. Somehow he managed to coax success from both of them. Our youngest son was fortunate enough to have a huge, gentle, talented horse called Rimrock. We first got him when Joe was five years old, and he’d sit on Rimrock in a pen with no bridle or saddle while I saddled the other horses. It was the safest place for him to be as some of the horses I rode were colts and not too stable. Rimrock was one of the best babysitters we ever found.

Besides all the regular pets they had, they picked up a few odd ones along the way. My daughter brought a hermit crab home from a trip to the coast, and it lived for years. We’d find a bigger shell every once in a while, and it would move to better quarters.

Every Easter weekend during the seventies and eighties, there was a large barrel race and team roping held in the small town of Murphy, Idaho. The kids spent most of their time catching Horned Toads. There was an abundance of them in the sagebrush area that surrounded the Murphy rodeo grounds. Our middle son brought several home over the years, and they were fun pets. He’d catch ants and feed the toads.

My youngest son’s weird pet was a snake. I know that sounds fairly ordinary, but I didn’t know he had it in his room. I was cleaning one day and lifted a stack of fabric in my sewing room. There was a dried snake skin. Son #2’s secret pet snake was on the loose, and he was afraid he’d get into trouble. He was right. The snake shed its skin as it grew. We never found the snake, and it was a jumpy few months around our house.
The most unusual pet the kids ever had was a spider. It made a web behind the curtain rod, and being the fastidious house cleaner that I am, I didn’t discover it for several months. (No comments on my housekeeping skills here. I’ve heard them all from my mother.) By then, Son #1 discovered that if he got a tiny piece of hamburger and tossed it into the web, the spider would run out, snag it and scurry back to the center of his web. He’d wrap it all up into a ball and eat on it for several days until all the moisture was gone.

One of the kid’s favorite sports was to take a piece of popcorn and toss it into the web. The little spider would race out, grab the popcorn and spin it into a ball. Then it would taste it, realize there wasn’t any moisture, or maybe it just didn’t like popcorn, and would cut it loose and drop in onto the carpet.

The spider lived behind the curtain all one winter. As the weather warmed up the next spring, one day, it was gone.

What are some of the stranger pets you’ve had during your lifetime? Bet you can’t beat a spider.


Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Idaho


19 responses to “Ranch Kids Have Weird Pets

  1. Janis McCurry

    April 9, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    I got my son a chinchilla when he was about 12 and the rest, as they say, is history. I had read that they are affectionate and don’t smell as badly as guinea pigs and hamsters (which is true, BTW). That one was named Reggie (Reginald). He was delightful and watching him take dust baths was entertaining.

    Fast forward to my son and his wife, who wanted a pet that could be left on its own for a few days if necessary (because it stored food). They bought Alberto (now about 10). Later, they bought Fiona to keep him company. Over the years, the happy chinchilla couple had a total of about 10-12 babies, who were given good homes. Alberto was fixed and he and Fiona are enjoying their elderly years in retirement living. Their kids don’t visit so that’s good.

  2. Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

    April 9, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    I forgot about the hamsters. The boys each had one. We haven’t had chinchillas, but they sound cute. I love that they get to live in retirement.

  3. Corina Mallory

    April 9, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Nothing too odd when I was growing up – cats, dogs, finches, a cockatiel, and a hamster. When I was at college I really missed having pets, but one of my roommates was allergic to cats (my preferred pet) so I broke down and got a goldfish. It … wasn’t the same.

    • Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

      April 9, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Love the goldfish. I had them when I was a kid. And, I also forgot about Jocko, the cockatiel. He said several things, including, “Joe, get up.”

  4. Peggy Staggs

    April 9, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    I love pets. As a kid I wanted a house full. Unfortunately, being a military brat that just wasn’t in the over-all plan.
    I’ve always had larger pets. No mice or hamsters they’re just too easy to step on. Right now we don’t have any kids at home, but we do have two large dogs, two annoying cats, and a passel of ducks, geese, and frogs who live in the back yard. Regrettably, Walter (our black and white cat) has taken to bringing the little frogs inside to play. I’m not sure the frogs are willing participants.
    As for the housekeeping…if the dust bunnies aren’t moving you’re all good.

  5. Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

    April 9, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    So far, the dust bunnies are immobile. Several of our cats brought in mice, some live and some not. What a nice gift for their owners.

  6. maryvine

    April 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    When I was about 5 or so, we lived on a farm and I had a pet rooster that followed me around for awhile. Until a neighbor cat or dog killed it. I believe I named it Brownie.
    What a fun post and I bet your children will want to keep this piece for all the memories it includes.

  7. Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

    April 9, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    It’s unusual to have a tame rooster. I keep remembering more pets the kids had as more people post.

  8. marsharwest

    April 9, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Entertaining post, Stephanie, and the comments, too. My goodness, I’ve always suspected I led a sheltered life. As a child, one small dog, that got hit and died very early. To this day, I remember how hard it was for my mother to tell me. We never got another. A parakeet, but we couldn’t take him with us on a transfer and had to give him away. (Darn all those moves, huh, Peggy?)
    My kids grew up with a miniature schnauzer from the time they were five and three until they were in middle school. As soon as my older daughter got a job and apartment after college she got her own miniature schnauzer. Sadly, he’s gone, too. He was a sweetheart. Now our two poochies are old and sad times are approaching. 😦 But they’ve given us so many wonderful experiences over the years.

  9. Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

    April 9, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Marsha, it’s hard to lose a pet, but they give us so much pleasure that it’s worth the pain. My son has a miniature schnauzer now, and he’s the sweetest dog.

    • marsharwest

      April 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Is your son’s dog all black? My daughter’s was. Gentlest guy you’d ever find. Our Whiskers we had when the kids were young was salt and pepper. Beautiful boy. Feisty personality. Only liked us. He was a great watchdog!

      • Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

        April 9, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Rowdy is mostly black with a little gold. They had a baby in Sept and the little dog had appointed himself the baby’s guardian.

        • marsharwest

          April 9, 2013 at 4:37 PM

          Last comment, promise! That’s what my daughter’s schnauzer did when she had her first child. It was very, sweet. Lucky are people who have dogs!

  10. Judith Keim

    April 10, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Hi, Steph! As a kid I couldn’t have pets because my brother had severe allergies. But when a friend down the street got a dog we loved him and he’d stroll up the street to get some extra loving. When I got married one of the first things my husband and I did was get a dachshund – the first of many. We’re on our fifth one. Usually we had two at a time. The strangest pets my kids had was a bunch of chickens who stayed in an old potting shed on the summer estate in Massachusetts where we had bought and renovated a carriage house. We were sincerely interested in trying a pig there but the people who lived in the main house were not amused so we were good neighbors and refrained. We had the chickens so our two boys would learn the value of hard work. They sold the eggs for $1 a dozen to eager friends. (We figured it cost us at least $2.50 for every dozen they sold). I couldn’t bear to put the chickens down so we gave them to friends who were okay about turning them into stewing hens. Both grown boys each have two dogs but no other strange pets.

  11. Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

    April 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Too bad you didn’t get the pig. Both of my boys had pigs in 4H, and they act like dogs if you spend time with them. I have a picture of my youngest at his first county fair, sleeping in the pen laying on his pig. We both cried when he sold the pig, and he didn’t eat pork for a year until he figured his pig was out of the system.

  12. Lynn Mapp

    April 11, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Stephanie, I’m pretty boring. I’ve only had dogs and cats, nothing as exciting as a family spider. I love that story.

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