Lambchop’s Lawn Service
Growing up in a rural area, I received a few unusual pets as gifts from my parents and grandparents. Though things started out normally enough, I suppose.
When I was a toddler, my parents picked out a white puppy at the local swap meet. “What should we call it, Susie?” (I was Susie back then; don’t try that crap on me now.)
“Baby!” I exclaimed – or so I’m told. I don’t remember getting the dog. Baby was one of the three or four words I knew at the time. Luckily, the puppy’s small size inspired me to say that word. It’s a good thing she didn’t resemble my mom or dad. She was a great dog – very fond of bones, as I recall. One day she went off into the desert and didn’t come back. I was sad about that.
My next pet was a kitten named Lazy. She wasn’t particularly friendly; in fact, she spent a lot of time hiding behind things to get away from me. Around that time, I developed a severe, life-threatening form of asthma. Keep in mind that we lived half an hour from the nearest medical facilities. It took a number of months for the doctor to connect the asthma attacks to cat dander. Once the connection was made, a new home was found for Lazy. I’m sure she was relieved.
Not too long after that, my grandparents gave me a black-and-white rabbit that I named Christie Wilkens (this may have been the first sign that I was destined to be an author – who gives their pet a last name?). I am sad to say that Christie spent her life outside. My mom wasn’t having that poop machine in the house under any circumstances. All in all, she wasn’t a very exciting pet – of course, it’s hard to get to know an animal that spends all of its time in a hutch.
Finally, we come to the pinnacle of the gift pets – a lamb presented to me on Easter. I don’t remember being that enthused. Disturbingly, Mom suggested we name her Lambchop. Then she sang a version of Mary Had a Little Lamb that included a refrain: “da-de-da-da-da, lamb chop.” Quite honestly, that name was as good as any, so Lambchop it was.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the acquisition of the lamb had more to do with the backyard needing a trim than with Easter. Lambchop was our new lawnmower.
About six months before Lambchop joined the family, my dad bought my mom a cocker spaniel named Rusty. He lived in the backyard too. Despite the abundance of grass available to Lambchop, she quickly developed a taste for Rusty’s food. The grass went untouched while the dog-food bill grew exponentially. By the time she was fully grown, Rusty was lucky to get a bite or two before Lambchop had the whole bowl empty.
After some thinking on the problem, my dad determined that if he put the dog food on the picnic table instead of on the ground, only Rusty would be able to get to it. (Apparently, my dad didn’t think domestic sheep and Big Horn sheep were related.) At first, this solution appeared to work. Lambchop finally ate some grass – though nowhere near as much as my dad would have liked.
A few days later though, my mom looked out her kitchen window and saw something she couldn’t believe: Lambchop was up on the picnic table, eating the dog food. Rusty was underneath, catching the pieces that fell through the cracks.We have photos somewhere that document the event, but I’d have to dig through a few boxes to find them.
In any case, my dad’s dream of zero lawn-mowing duties was not to be. Before long, Lambchop (whom I had grown fond of, despite my initial lack of enthusiasm) found herself re-homed with my uncle. I’m fairly certain she ended up as mutton on his table. I can’t blame him. Who needs a sheep who thinks she’s a dog?