I'm the oldest member of the shelter organization. I read about
the group's efforts in the paper and said, "I'd like to
join that." Pets have been important in my life.
My mother always had a dog named Pat.
When one Pat died of old age, another dog showed up right away
to be the next Pat. Most of my relatives have pets, and we talk
about them at family reunions.
My first dog, John, and I were born on
the same day: August 12, 1908, in Noble, Texas. John lived to
be 13, and I'm still here. John was a terrific center fielder.
My brothers made our own baseballs, so they weren't as hard as
regulation balls. John could catch those balls like dogs catch
a Frisbee nowadays. I don't know if John was fixed or not. In
those days, we didn't think about things like spaying and neutering.
Princess was my dog for years. Princess
was a mix of many breeds, mostly terrier, and she was spayed.
My wife and I took her everywhere with us. Wherever we were visiting
or traveling, we'd lay out her towel and say, "Princess,
get on your rug," and she did. When it was time to put Princess
down, I took her to the shelter. I didn't stay, because I knew
I'd cry. I cried anyway. We missed Princess when she was gone.
In 1986, my wife and I got Sabrina when the dog
was two or three years old. Sabrina was a beautiful golden retriever
mix, and she had been spayed. Sabrina and her pal Bosley came
with a California townhouse my daughter rented. The landlords
were moving and couldn't take the dogs with them, and my daughter
said, "Please let me keep them." But when she moved
again, she had trouble renting with two dogs and a cat, so we
took Sabrina. Sabrina lived until 1999. One night I let her out
to do her business, and she never came back. We never found where
she had gone to die. Since then, people have told me, "Oh
yes, old dogs do that." But I wish we could have found her
body. Then I could be sure no one had stolen her or mistreated
My current dog is Charlie. She has some
golden retriever too, but she's a mix. Her mother and the litter
were rescued from under an abandoned house near Mineola. "They
were covered with fleas," the volunteer told me, "but
we saved the mother and most of the puppies." Charlie was
five months old when I got her from the shelter, and the next
month I took her to be spayed.
I've lived in Jacksonville since 1932.
I hope I live to see a new animal shelter built in this city.
We need it so badly.
~ Finis L. Harris,
August 12, 1908 b July 9, 2003