In Rochester NY where I grew up, the local branch of the Humane Society was affectionately known as Lollypop Farm. We kids loved to visit there because it had a barnyard with goats and sheep we could feed and pet. It was where you went to adopt an animal. It was also where you took the pets you could not keep. We always wondered about Lollypop Farm. Did all the pets there get adopted? Mom and Dad said they did.
There were six of us kids. At one point, Mom and Dad had five under five. We didn’t have a lot of pets ‘cause my folks had their hands full as it was. But with enough pleading, a few critters found their way into our home. I never got the pony I wanted, but we scored with a few smaller animals.
Mugsy was my brother Eric’s apricot poodle. He was cute, cuddly and very portable. We took Mugsy with us on our trip to Cape Cod in a big Winnebago motor home. He liked to lay on the long, wide dashboard and survey the countryside. When my Dad made a turn, Mugsy slid smoothly across the vinyl dash to the driver’s side.
But Mugsy didn’t like to be left behind. Mom would come home from grocery shopping and find that sweet little dog on their bed getting far too frisky with her decorative pillows. The last straw was when he wet all over Mom’s brand new living room drapes.
Mugsy went to Lollypop Farm.
Trixie was the cat from hell. She was super hyper from the moment we brought her home. She’d run loops around the tops of our living room furniture. She had wild eyes and would show her sharp teeth when she panted. We were all afraid of her. My youngest brother still sports a scar down his face from that demon cat.
Trixie went to Lollypop Farm.
I had a big, beautiful white male rabbit. We kept him in a fenced spot in the backyard in the summer. In the winter he stayed in the garage in a cage. He would get so excited to see us! If we walked close to his cage, he’d run around in circles and display his manliness. That didn’t bode well for the bottom of my Dad’s dress pants.
It wasn’t long before the rabbit went to Lollypop Farm too.
My brother Paul’s long haired guinea pig was so funny! We called him Jerry and he looked like a little mop on batteries. He was black with streaks of caramel colored hair that reached to the ground. We’d put him on the floor in the middle of the kitchen just to watch him scurry to the corner and hide under the cabinets. He made us laugh!
Jerry’s cage was in a basement room where Mom worked on her crafts. After church one day we all came home to find him stretched out in his cage. My brother said, “Mom, something is wrong with Jerry. He doesn’t look too good. And he’s not moving.” We soon held a burial ceremony for Jerry and laid him to rest somewhere in the back yard.
Months later, Mom was in her craft room spray painting one of her creations and she noticed a warning on the side of the can. “May harm small animals.” She felt terrible. Poor Jerry never made it to Lollipop Farm.
My parents are very compassionate people. Truly. They love animals. My Mom keeps the birds fat and happy. She stuffs peanut butter into the holes Dad drilled into a birch log and she hangs it under the front porch. But Mom and Dad both battle with the squirrels. They’ve tried every which way to keep them out of the bird feeders and the flower pots. Dad finally took drastic measures and bought a cage. Once it caught a mad-as-a-wet-hen victim, he’d relocate it to the park at the end of their street. For every squirrel he moved to the park, four or five new ones appeared back up at the house. One squirrel nested in a spruce outside their back patio door, so now they have a whole “fam damily” of squirrels.
Next stop – Lollypop Farm!