A turtle named Bartholomew. A pair of finches named Murray and Zelda. And some of the best dogs ever.
Those are my favorite pets.
In fact, in my household we're so crazy about our pets that our mud room is decorated with a dog theme, mainly because it housed two dog crates at the time the room was built. Now there's only one dog and her crate has been replaced by an old soft blanket (her "bed" is in our room, where she sleeps at night, of course). But in the dog room, by way of an array of photos on the walls, she is surrounded by the canine companions who came before her.
Our mud room - or dog room -is a mini art gallery dedicated to the magnificent dogs in our lives, complemented by several whimsical dog-related decorations.
I smile when I see the faded photographs of the first dog in my life - Bon Bon, a black and white mixed breed with a panda-like "patch" on one eye. She was followed by another Bon Bon (both named by my parents, for reasons never explained to me), a blond cocker spaniel, who lived a long and happy life, and gave us much love in return.
A couple of the dogs from my husband's childhood are remembered in our dog room - his parents raised and ran beagles. Memorabilia from their field champions, Chop-A-Line Black Buck (aka Buck), and Mort's Woodsong Shane (aka Shane) also adorn our walls.
Their portraits flank a colorful collage showing the long life of Murphy D. Mort, who was, hands down, my husband's favorite. Murphy was marked like a border collie, but had the stature of a small German shepherd and was the smartest dog I ever met.
Our home eventually also became the home of my late father's beagle, named Pepper, the most ornery dog I ever met, but he became a great friend to Callie, who came to us from Dogs Deserve Better, a chained dog rescue organization near Altoona. Callie is the sweetest and most grateful dog, and we're now keeping her as comfortable as possible in her last days. Pepper is waiting for her over that Rainbow Bridge.
I am certain that many Sentinel readers understand our devotion to our pets, and have similar stories of their own. This year's "I Remember When" special section, to be published on June 29, will be dedicated to the stories and photos about your favorite pets.
We're asking Sentinel readers to share stories about the pets in their lives -from the tiniest goldfish to the largest horse. Tell us all about your pet - what it is, where you got it, how it got its name, how you accommodate your homes and lives for the love of your pet, and the silly and loving anecdotes that make your pets valued members of your household.
And, please, send in photos, too. Lots of photos.
While I know that pet owners love to share stories and pictures about their wonderful "friends," we are offering incentives to make it more fun. One person, randomly selected from all who submit stories/photos, will win a $50 gift certificate to East Gate Feed, and two second place winners will receive copies of the limited edition hardback book "Glory Days II: Sports in the Juniata Valley," published by The Sentinel in 2011.
Please submit your stories and photos for "I Remember When: My Favorite Pets," by June 6 in one of the following ways:
By mail: Send to Jane Cannon Mort, Special Projects Editor, The Sentinel, P.O. Box 588, Lewistown, PA 17044
Online: Email memories and JPG images as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Upload your stories and photos through our Virtual Newsroom at www.lewistownsentinel.com. Click on "Submit news" located on the green bar at the very top of the home page. Click on the heading "Special projects," then click on "I Remember When." Follow the instructions to submit text and/or photos.
Or, drop off your items at The Sentinel office, at the corner of Sixth Street and Summit Drive in Pleasant Acres, Lewistown.
If you're scanning a photo, set the scanner to 100 percent size and 300 dpi resolution. Items photographed with your digital camera should be at the highest image quality and sent exactly as they come off the camera. If you want to have an item scanned while you wait, call The Sentinel's photo department at 248-6741 ext. 131 for an appointment.
If you have any questions, call Jane Cannon Mort at 286-6741 ext. 115 or email email@example.com.
Jane Cannon Mort is the lifestyles and special projects editor of The Sentinel.