Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Animal Kingdom

Jackie K. Cooper

My wife really wants a new pet. We haven’t had one since our cat Fluff died many years ago. Over the years I have used the argument that we are free to travel and do things without having to worry about a pet. Plus we don’t have to worry about taking care of a pet. We are footloose and fancy free – but my wife wants a pet.

My grandchildren who live here in Perry want us to have a pet. They have one of those small yippee dogs named “Midnight.” That is the kind of dog my wife wants. She has gone on and on about how cute Midnight is and how much company he would be. At first I saw nothing but a dog I might step on and kill, but over the past few months I have to admit he has gotten cuter.

Honestly I think the dog and my wife are in cahoots. Every time I drop in to see my youngest son Sean and his family, the dog acts like he has been waiting years to see me again. He jumps up in my lap and makes his best expressions. He exudes warmth and love. Most animals prefer Terry to me. Our cat Fluff definitely preferred our oldest son JJ over anyone else. Rarely have I felt like the chosen one by any animal, though I do have to say JJ’s dog does seem particularly partial to me.

Growing up we had dogs, mostly cocker spaniels, which are beautiful dogs but take a lot of care. They have to be bathed and groomed excessively. Still they are loving and lovable dogs. Plus they are solid enough that you can pet them without feeling as though you are going to kill them.

I still have a thought that I might like a ragamuffin cat. I have heard they are a special breed who are just bred to be loved. They aren’t as stand-offish as other breeds of cats, though I did like the fact Fluff was rather self supportive. She could amuse herself for hours and never need attention.

Thinking about Fluff reminds me of the sadness the death of a pet can cause. Most animals don’t live long, long lives. Fluff lived for over twenty years and it was still heart-wrenching when she died. I remember losing my pets when I was growing up and it traumatized me each and every time.

Pets do have a way of taking over your life. They sneak their way into your heart and make it their home. They become so integral a part that you start looking for them as soon as you get home each day, and you want them near so you can pet them and love them.

As you can see, I am weakening fast. For the past several years my home has been my kingdom but I fear it is soon going to become an animal kingdom. Instead of ruling the roost I will be the slave to some yippy puppy that owns my heart and my home.

I might as well face it, my life is going to the dogs.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events. Cooper has authored five books: Journey of a Gentle Southern Man, Chances and Choices, Halfway Home, The Bookbinder, and The Sunrise Remembers.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2011