We all remember our first pet, right? (Well, hopefully we remember ALL of our pets.)
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household that never experienced a shortage of pets. Thanks mostly to my mom*, between bringing home puppies from litters, fostering many a four-legged friend, and the not-so-uncommon bringing home of adorable, stray furry faces, there were usually around 6-8 pets in the Karlek household at any given time.
*Dad’s response was pretty standard each time a fur-ball came home: “ANOTHER one?!” followed by his rolling eyes. But don’t let that fool you—he’s got a soft spot for really cute ones.
It was the best way to grow up, surrounded by dogs. (And a few cats, but if I had to favor one type of animal…woof.) I loved all of the Karlek pets and each was precious to me. But one sweet/crazy/goofy pooch in particular was extra special—Rascal. (AKA Pooch, Raz, Razzle Dazzle, Hard Castle, ‘Scal.)
Rascal was so special to me because she wasn’t just another family dog—she was mine. My first pet. I still so distinctly remember our first encounter.
It was just before Christmas 1998. A curious 3rd grade Tori was outside playing (gotta love winters in North Carolina) and frolicking carefree when an adorable,
energetic hyper all-out crazy pup wandered up to me. It was love at first ear scratch and I immediately began begging “can we keep her? Please? PLEASE? PLEEEEEEEEEASE?”
For two weeks my parents made it very clear it was temporary. “We can’t keep her, we’ll only have her until we find her owner.” But that didn’t keep me from begging relentlessly. You know what they say, fight for what you want! So I did. And guess what? I won the fight. 😉
Rascal became part of the family and my first pet. It was a beautiful friendship. She was my original Ride or Die. She was….the best.
My first two years of college brought about dormitory/tiny apartment living, thus no pets. And I have to tell you guys, it was rough. When you’re accustomed to paws, drooling mouths, and excited eyes greeting you each time you walk through the door, walking into a quiet, non-furry room after a long day is seriously sad. I missed the furry clan. I missed my Ride or Die.
Finally, for my third year in college I got to bring Rascal to Charlotte to live with me, and it was amazing. Having her with me for my final college years made our bond so much stronger—here was this furry friend I’d known since age 8 now living with me through some of the most experience-filled years of my life. She was with me through crappy college jobs, bad grades, stupid boys, new friends, fights with friends, crazy roommates, figuring out who I was. She was there through some formative years, and for that I’ll always love her.
Upon graduation and acceptance of my first job in Ohio, mom and I decided it was best if she went back to live with my parents. Her prime years were over and her health wasn’t great—caring for her became a stress that wouldn’t have been great added to my already anxiety-filled move to the midwest. Each time I visited home, I could tell it was getting more and more important to treasure the time left with Rascal.
That tough girl held in there long enough for me to move back to NC. Just long enough for us to have a few more months together. A few more months to spoil her and love on her and thank her. She was my best friend.
Facebook reminded me today with a ‘memory’ that it’s already been two years—two years. Wow. I still miss Rascal every. Single. Day. Luckily I have this goofball to add a dash of cuteness and crazy to my life.
Rascal will always hold that extra special place, though. Pooch. Raz. Razzle Dazzle. Hard Castle. ‘Scal. She made my life so much sweeter, and I’m forever glad
I found her she found me on that random December day.