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In Ring A Ding Ding, the main character, Alice, implores audiences to help search for her lost dog. While kids are sure to enjoy the hijinks, music and magic that ensue, the adults on our staff were instantly reminded of their own stories of childhood pets – some of which were also lost or found. We’ve laughed about our stories around the coffee pot for the past week and I thought it was past time to share of few of my favorite (and my very own)!
When I was a kid, my siblings and I named our first dog Skookum. He was a friendly, playful mix of Collie and Husky, and we bought him as a puppy. Sadly, within a month of joining our family, he disappeared. For obvious reasons, my siblings and I were distraught. With the help of our parents, we searched and searched our neighborhood and, because Skookum was our first pet, our parents allowed us to go so far as putting an ad in a local newspaper. Weeks and then months passed without any leads, at which point, our parents allowed us to get a new dog that we named Maggie. I was at school when the rest of the story unfolded, but here’s how it goes according to family lore: my mother got a phone call and the man on the other end of the line told her “Miss, I have your dog.” Concerned, my mom looked around the house, found Maggie and replied, “Sorry, but I think you have the wrong number. My dog is sitting here with me.” Frustrated, the caller replied “Lady, I have your dog. Please just wait outside.” Within a few minutes, a car pulled up to the curb, opened its door, and out bounded Skookum as friendly as ever. Except that when Skookum disappeared, he was a puppy that could sit in your lap; when he returned, he was a full size, adult dog. Skookum ran to the house as the car drove away. It remains a mystery as to why someone kept our dog for nine months, let alone why they chose to suddenly return it. We were just happy to be reunited with our pet – and as a kid, I definitely thought it worked out in our favor since our family wound up with two dogs instead of just one!
From Kim Neuer, Vice President of Finance: When I was 12 years old, shortly after my parents’ divorce, I found a scrappy little dog who wouldn’t leave my side. After a little cajoling, my mom said “okay – you can keep her.” Skipper, as I named her, turned out to be an amazingly intelligent dog. She thrilled me with her ability to understand every word that I said–whether in English or French–and she quickly became my closest friend and confidante. One day, as Skipper and I were walking down the street, a man stepped out onto the sidewalk and burst out, “Roxy!” A look of recognition mixed with uncertainty crossed Skipper’s face, and though she did not appear afraid, she hunkered closer to me. The man then said to me, “That is my family’s dog – she has been lost for almost a year.” I stared back in silence, not sure how to respond. He paused and then continued: “I can see that you two are very close. Even though my family was very saddened by her loss, I think that we are okay now – I think that you should keep her.” I couldn’t believe my ears! Although I am a very compassionate person, I don’t think I hesitated. Maybe I muttered a soft, “Are you sure?” before the man walked off, and so did we. Neither Skipper nor I looked back. And although I have had many other dogs since, not one has meant as much to me as Skipper.
From Lindsey Buller Maliekel, Director of Education / Public Engagement: I named my parakeet Mozart. Mozart lived in a cage above the piano and spent a lot of time squawking when any other animal came into view. Some days we would lock the cats upstairs and let Mozart fly around the room and enjoy himself. His wings were clipped, so he couldn’t fly very far. One spring day, Mozart was flitting from the fireplace to the bookshelf and back again when I inadvertently left the sliding glass door open. It took several hours for me to realize that Mozart had ‘flown the coop’ – I do believe this was his first time in the great outdoors! Once I realized, the whole family organized into search parties to find the bright yellow bird. We tromped through the woods in our backyard peering into the trees and whistling. After an hour or so, we heard a familiar squawk in return. We looked up and located his yellow wings way, way up in the tree! We immediately displayed every bird treat we had in the house hoping to entice him off the branch and back into our arms. He refused and I was quite distraught as I went to bed that night thinking about how cold and lonely Mozart would be way up in that tree. Luckily, the next morning we found Mozart squawking on the back porch. We bundled the shivering bird into a cozy towel and moved the bird cage into the laundry room so he could warm up. The squawking returned.
From Beth Baker, Assistant to the Executive Vice President & Vice President of Operations: When I was eleven, I went to sleep-away camp with my Girl Scout troop. The whole adventure was amazing, but the best moment was when we all received a hermit crab to take home with us (much to my Mom’s dismay). Thankfully, they gave us everything we would need to take care of our crabs: container/home, food, and extra shells to decorate its abode. I named my hermit crab Starfish and my sister “lovingly” pointed out to me that I was naming a crab, not a fish. But, no matter! It was the first time in my childhood that I was responsible for another creature, besides myself, and I was loving it. I fed Starfish every few days and he always had fresh water. About 6 months after I brought him home, I picked up Starfish and saw that his shell was empty. Starfish was missing! I was so confused–how do you lose a crab?! I looked everywhere in his container and even began looking in the rest of the house, but couldn’t find Starfish anywhere. I finally picked up one of the other shells and realized that my crab had simply moved to a different shell. At the time, I didn’t know that growing hermit crabs move shells when they need a bigger one. After that incident, my parents and I did a lot of research on hermit crabs, ensuring that there would be no other surprises with Starfish in the future.
From Ashley Hufford, Digital Media Apprentice: While growing up I had two very fat cats, Aviva and Tasia. Our cats were trained to the sound of the can opener and whenever they heard it they would run into the kitchen and wait by their bowls. One day, Aviva didn't come to eat. My dad didn’t think much of it, but when it happened again the next day he began to worry. My whole family began to search the house for her. We looked in all her favorite spots, and even began to check outside and around the neighborhood. After about an hour, we heard the screams of my younger brother and ran home. While he was washing his hands, he heard meowing. He turned and saw nothing but then he heard it again. The meows were coming from the wall where earlier that week we had installed a new bathtub. Somehow, while the construction workers were tiling the space between the bathtub and the floor, Aviva had crawled in and been sealed inside. My dad took a hammer, broke one of the tiles and Aviva burst out, while my family and I burst into tears of laughter. Everyone seemed to win in the end – Aviva was absolutely fine (just a bit hungry) and we didn't have to pay for the bathtub! This blog was written & edited by Blake McCarty, Media Manager.