The ‘Writers and Their Pets’ series began with my own desire to celebrate my dog Sally, and over the coming months I will also invite other writers to share with the rest of us the details of their lives with beloved pets.
We also ask contributors to the series to tell us about their favorite pets from literature. Megan told us that “I’ve always wanted to give Emily Dickinson a hug over the loss of Carlo, her Newfoundland. His loss devastated her. I get that. Also—I have a suspicion that Dickinson would prefer I keep my indiscriminate hugs to myself.”
We hope you enjoy Megan’s essay.
—Ladette Randolph, Editor-in-Chief
Sometimes, when people find out I live with a veterinarian husband (and veterinarian father-in-law) they ask: is it hard, him bringing home all those pets?
Uh, no. It isn’t. Because I’m the one bringing home the pets. I have the bleeding heart; Bo is just my enabler. A cat comes into the clinic with one eye shot out in a trailer park? Bring him home. The beagle no one wants who throws up in the car, doesn’t know how to walk on a leash, and is afraid of snow? Mine. The cage-crazy spaniel mix with Muppet feet and an under-bite who hunts rabbits and eats underwear? I’ll take her.
We have four dogs, four cats, a fish, two goats in dog collars, and seven chickens. There’s a lot of love and a lot of heartbreak living on a small farm with a rescue mentality. A fox got into the henhouse last week. Last fall we put down our 37 year old mare. An owl or coyote likely snatched up our small gray cat.
Recent Feline Acquisition: A sick gray cat I thought was a young female juvenile, found in a neighbor’s backyard. I drop him off at the clinic for a check up.
Bo calls me: Megan. Honey. This is not a young or female cat. This cat is twelve, has no teeth, is a boy, full of worms, and his tail is broken in two places.
Me: Cool. He can live in the kitchen.
Bo: You have litterbox duty.
Me (lying): I’ll take care of it.
Recent Canine Acquisition: a hyperactive, flat-coat retriever mix from Texas with separation anxiety and a UTI. He was supposed to be our “big dog.” Lesson learned: rescuing dogs off the internet is like buying pants. Sometimes they show up too small. And you love them anyway.
Next up: rescue donkeys and sheep. Bo is on the board of a local animal shelter, so who knows what might happen.
Megan Mayhew Bergman lives on a small farm in rural Vermont with her veterinarian husband and two daughters. Her collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, was published by Scribner and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick, Indie Next Pick, and Huffington Post Best Book of 2012. Her novel, Shepherd,Wolf, is forthcoming.Have you considered submitting to Ploughshares?