I’ve only had two pets that I loved dearly: a cat named Spunky and a short-haired dog called Peppy.
Both displayed signs of abuse and abandonment, and both behaved like former indoor pets. Adjusting to a rural life outdoors in Madera County would be a challenge for them. Spunky, a white tabby with gray tiger markings, ran away several times in the beginning, but I would coax her home, usually by crouching down and meowing plaintively. Eventually she warmed to people, but she never learned her given name. Instead she came running whenever I meowed. She never ceased to be a source of affection and attention until she died of old age when I began high school.
In the winter of my third year in Madera High School, God unexpectedly gifted us with Peppy, a short black dog with white and gold markings. Peppy had no trouble warming to women, but to my dismay she feared any and all men. The first time I held her she trembled so. I hugged her to me before realizing it wasn’t the weather that made her shiver. It was fear. So I let her be. She grew to tolerate me as days passed, but nothing more.
My mother allowed Peppy to sleep in a box inside for her first nights on the farm, but that did not long continue. My mother had little desire for an animal indoors unless it walked on two legs, wore clothes, and called her “mom.” So one dark winter’s night, Peppy lay whining near the front door under a wooden bench beyond my bedroom window. I grabbed a jacket and went outside...