Yesterday, as we worked on our boat down at Maritime Marina, in Tuckerton, owned by our niece Gail Hansen, and her husband, Erik, I asked where Ginger was.  Ginger is the largest, sweetest Golden retriever I’ve ever met.  Gail explained it was too hot for Ginger, and that a melanoma had just been removed from the dog’s leg; things didn’t look good.  I can’t imagine the marina without this loving, happy fixture greeting everyone at the entrance, and this summer I won’t take that for granted every time we get to see her.

This week it’s National Pet Week and Be Kind to Animals Week. I’ll be talking more about these two observances in this week”s Newark Pets Examiner posts.  For now, in honor of all the pets that have graced my life, I’m reprinting the “Dogs in Heaven” post written in January… Give your pets a little extra love this week.

Growing up in my family was sometimes like growing up in a menagerie.  My sister, Manette, brought the horse, (when we lived in Boulder)  my brother, John was our tropical fish and reptile guy, I specialized in dogs (a duck, some gerbils and white mice, and a bird or two), and my brother Matt, despite his nickname of “Matty Dawg,” was our cat man.

I recall many years ago returning home on a college break only to be warmly greeted by a young grey Tiger cat.  Matt, then 12 or so, had asked my parents for a kitten.  Upon answering a classified ad, Matt returned not with a tiny kitten, but this nearly full grown cat.  My family was disappointed at first, but not for long.  Matt named the cat Morrison after Jim Morrison of The Doors, Morrey for short.  Morrey quickly won everyone’s affection, and became one of our family’s most beloved pets.  He was a big cat that liked to wander, returning home each morning with battle wounds from the night before.  But with humans, he was gentle and attentive, the kind of cat even people who didn’t like cats came to love,  a cat that behaved more like your typical dog. Morrey lived to be 19, which is remarkable for the life he led. There were other cats in our life, Gypsy (who came with four siblings, dropped off in a duffel bag), Jefferson, Metal, Tripod, Veda, and Pita who is still enjoying a restful old-age up in Hackensack, but Morrey was The King of Cats, in our family’s pet history.

If Matt was still with us, he would have turned 44 today.  He was, and always will be, our “baby” brother.  Matt was born during the Year of the Horse, and like a horse he was strong, independent, always at your service, reliable, and sometimes a little wild. A champion of the under dog, Matt always went out of his way to help those less fortunate than he. 

Will Judy believed that there was room for dogs in heaven.  As the editor-in-chief of Dog World, he was once asked that question by a young reader, a 10-year-old boy who was upset at being told by his teacher that dogs did not go to heaven because there was no room for them.  Will Judy, trained for the clergy, never lost his sensitive touch.  He had great respect for children and assured this reader that dogs had a special place in heaven because it would be a lonely place without them. 

I like to think that there is plenty of room for every pet up there, and that Matt, Morrey, Coco Puff (our tormented toy poodle), are all together, enjoying the company of others who loved their pets, and still do.