*Pet Stories

Pets are Your Best Friends
(Treat them as equals and you will learn from them.)

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It wasn’t until after reading "Kinship with all Life" by J. Allen Boone, that I realized to what extent my relationship with animals actually was. I just thought everyone communicated with animals. According to Boone anyone can communicate with animals. To do that you have to want to, and you must not feel that you are above their level of intelligence. Because of, King, my first encounter with animals, my feelings were of that nature. Speaking to King like he was one of the family was the only way I knew. King was there when I was born and left us when I was thirteen.

Through-out my life my attitude towards animals remained the same. Even finding a pet fly, like the one Boone wrote about. My fly was called, Freddy, as was Boone’s. That one was a little much for my family, but they saw it happen and so they believed it. Freddy would land on my finger when his name was called. He would stay there and we would carry on a conversation. There were many Freddys in my life. And when ever a fly would buzz around, my kids would ask if that was Freddy.

Decided to make a list of my animal friends and write their stories. After King, there were many friends, but King was the king of them all. There was Peoples ( felt she was better than people) who sailed with me, standing on the bow through crashing waves. She jumped on the roof of my car one day when I was going to the store, she stayed on as I pulled out and remained there until we reached the store. That became her favorite spot when riding with me. She liked the breeze, it reminded her of sailing.

Then there was Joe, a turtle who shook hands with me. Saki, a quarter horse who bedded next to me in my sleeping bag, Brady, the thoroughbred who played games with me, and a few more; they will be in my book one day:

King, my first introduction to humanistic animals

Sparky, the family dog

Ginger, the horse I rode across the Allegheney River from New Kensington to Springdale.

Peoples, a dog better than people, my sailing companion in Miami, Florida.

Duchess, truly a Duchess, who traveled from Miami, to Mexico City, to New York City, to San Francisco. Was one of the few dogs welcome in The famous saloon and restaurant, P. J. Clark’s.

Joe, the turtle who shook my hand.

Baron, the big dog who was finally selected by Duchess to be, the father of her young.

Saki, the quarter horse that showed me a very human side to horses.

Liliput, the New York cat who moved in with the Grateful Dead.

Apollo, a wonderful Great Dane, given to us by Billy Kruetzman, the drummer with the Grateful Dead.

Freddie, the fly.

Chee, my grandchildren’s cat

Bitsy, one of three dogs and two cats who adopted us in Arvin, California.

Boda, one of the three.

Koko, one of the three

Ucla, cat, one of the two

Brady the horse who was a mind reader.



    by Sam Younghans

    Not long after I was born, September 13, 1929, we moved in with my Grandmother, who had a beautiful German Shepard called “King.” King truly was just that, a king. He was majestic. He looked like Strongheart, the first Movie dog. My Grandmother had a large house at the end of the street surrounded by woods. I spent many happy times there, playing in the woods with King.

    My Mother told me about the many times that king came to my protection when I was a baby. One story was about the times she wheeled me in a baby buggy about five blocks to the local grocery store. King, discreetly followed at a distance, although he had been instructed to stay home. My Mother always parked the baby carriage outside of the store while doing her shopping.

                Grocery stores in those days were small family owned businesses, usually with one door and two large windows looking out on the sidewalk. She was never in the store very long, but when she came out of the store, she would find King, standing guard, growling at anyone who approached the carriage. Sometimes there would be a crowd watching King. No one ever got close to me.

                As I grew older, I never thought of King as anything special, he was just part of the family. He was my buddy, I played games with him and talked to him and, in his way, he talked to me.  

                One day, while walking to the store with my Mother, we approached a house, where a large boxer lived. His pastime was scaring and chasing people. When we were opposite the boxer’s house, he came dashing from around the side of the house, down the hill and on to the street, straight for us. He never made the sidewalk. Like a bolt of lightening out of nowhere, King appeared and hit that dog so hard, that it knocked him down and king was on top of him. When the Boxer regained his feet, he used them - he ran back up the hill to the protection of his house. King chased him up the hill, and then we called him. He came over to us, looking a little apologetic, seeing as how he didn’t stay home, but we gave him love and gratitude, and he continued on to the store with us.

                When we moved to our own home in another town, King came with us. King was never on a chain or was he ever penned up in a doghouse. At that time most people who had dogs, let them run free. There weren’t so many frightened people as there are now and most dogs weren’t mean. The neighborhood loved King.

                One day, after living with us for about a year, King disappeared. The first thought was that he returned to visit my grandmother. To do this he would have to travel five or six miles up the Allegheny River to the bridge, or swim across, and then about ten miles to her home. That never happened, my Grandmother never saw him. Coming home from school and not having King waiting to greet me was a very sad affair. The whole neighborhood was on the lookout for him. Almost a month had painfully passed with no sign of King. The street we lived on was on a hill, we lived half way up the hill. After school, I walked home different routes each day, hoping to find King.

                Then, one day, after nearly a month, I was at the top of our street, walking down the hill towards my home, when I saw something on the sidewalk next to the hedge that bordered our lawn. As I neared our house, I could make out a ball of fur lying on the sidewalk - it was King. I ran down the hill, yelling, “King! King!” He raised his head and tried to get up, but he was in such bad shape that he couldn’t rise. He looked terribly thin and his fur was coated with mud. He was exhausted, he was close to the end of his road. I knelt down beside him, gave him a big hug, he licked my hand. I called my Mother, who helped me carry him into our yard.

                My mother brought a pan of water, which King slowly lapped up. We brought food out to him and I sat on the ground next to him, stroking his fur. I stayed with him until he gained enough strength to walk up on the porch to his rug. He dropped down with a big sigh, as if to say, “Home at last.”  I was crying. You could tell he had been traveling, we had no idea what happened to him, but he returned and that was all that mattered.

                Thank you, King; you introduced me to the wonderful world of animals, to real beings, who give unconditional love. You taught me to communicate with other animals and with life. I grew up with King, he lived to the ripe old age of fourteen


    Living on Miami Beach as an adventurer and ladies man was not the place for a dog. Duchess was no ordinary dog. I’m sorry that the details of her adoption escape me, but her memory will always be with me.

    Duchess was probably eight or ten months old when we hooked up. My friends asked me what I was doing with this mangy looking, scraggly dog. I don’t know why, but my response was that she was going to turn into a beautiful wonderful lady. Thus, she was named, Duchess.

    I lived in a small servants house behind the main house on a street north of forty-first street on Miami Beach. Yes, Duchess was mangy, her fur was in tufts and she was skinny. The first thing I did for her was to take her to a veterinarian in Miami. The first thing th vet did was to take his scaple and scrape a piece of skin off of her eye-brow. It was done before I could stop him, and I was furious. He said he needed to make tests to diagnose her problem. After some time in the waiting room, he came in and told me that if I didn’t feel too strongly about the dog, that I should get rid of her. If I chose to keep her, it was going to cost me a whole lot of money to get her cured. Since all animals were my brothers, so, therefor, I would never get ride of her. My first feeling was to bash the vet in the mouth, but I held my temper and told him, "Give me my Dog! I’ll take care of her."

    Back on the beach, Duchess was treated to slices of a small steak and given a bath in a product called "Bathe-away." I apologized for her wound and told her that she was going to be well, and that she would be beautiful. Early every morning we went for a swim in the ocean. Slowly she began to get her fur back.

    She traveled with me all of the time. I dated lots of pretty woman on Miami Beach and Duchess was always along. If she didn’t care for the woman she would squeeze in between us in the front seat. One dancer that I was very attached to was also Duchess’s friend. Duchess approved. I was a photographer at that time and did the darkroom work for the photographers at the Deauville Hotel. Duchess slept on a shelf over the developing trays while I prepared the photos for the girls on the floor.

    As time passed, Duchess did indeed become beautiful. I had photo concessions in three night clubs on Miami Beach and Duchess always accompanied me to the clubs. She was always welcome in the clubs. All of the musicians were her pals. One club was in the Roney Plaza Hotel across Collins Avenue from my darkroom, which was in a small hotel on twenty-third street. We walked to the corner and when the light changed, I'd say, "Okay Duchess" and she would run ahead to the lower entrance and into the club. The doorman always felt slighted because she never stopped to say hello. By the time I got there she was sitting under the piano, eating a treat from one of the waitresses.  MORE OF THE STORY COMING WHEN I GET TIME.




  •    Some Cat stories coming soon.




  •   Fishy tales on the way.




    A friend, living on Miami Beach, bought a turtle for her two small children. The children never got attached to the turtle, but yours truly did, and gave him his name - Joe.. Don’t know what the attraction was, but I was hooked. After the season, she and her children returned to New York. Guess who got, Joe.

    She kept Joe in a small glass fish bowl. At that time, photography was my main source of income. My little house sat in the back yard of a large house on Miami Beach. Joe had a ball. His new home was an 18" by 24" developing tray with water and a small bridge. The tray was sloped, so that Joe could go swimming, rest on the upper part of the tray, or climb onto his bridge.

    "Hi, Joe," was my greeting. This was before, Frankie Fontaine, made that saying famous on the Jackie Gleason Show. Painting was one of my hobbies, so Joe always sat beside me in the yard wherever my easel was set up. He’d goof off in the tray, while I painted.

    One day the lady who lived in the main house came out to watch me paint. She asked me about, Joe. Told her he was in the tray. He wasn’t there. He had climbed out of his tray. We looked around the yard, it was a large yard, with a lawn and plants surrounding it. We couldn’t find, Joe. Told her not to worry, Joe would come home.

    Had an appointment to shoot some pictures that afternoon. When I returned later in the day, Joe was waiting for me in front of my door. My easel had been set up on the other side of the yard, so Joe had to do some traveling to get home. Said, "Hi, Joe," picked him up, took him inside and placed him back in his tray. He was happy to be back home - never climbed out of the tray again, his wanderlust had been fulfilled.

    My Mother and Dad, who lived in Miami Springs, found it hard to believe some of the stories I told about, Joe. One day my Dad called and said he wanted to see, Joe. When my Dad arrived, I was outside, waiting for him. Gave him instructions to quietly go in to my bedroom and sit on the bed - I followed.

    Joe’s tray was on the floor, near my bed. As usual, Joe was goofing off, half in the water and half out. I said, "Hi, Joe." Joe, raised his head out of the water and looked at me. The next request was, "Joe, climb up on the bridge." He immediately swam over and climbed onto the bridge. He always rested in the middle of the bridge. Once he was settled on the bridge, I put my hand in the shallow end of the tray with my palm up and said, "Shake hands, Joe." Joe, jumped off of the bridge, into the water, and swam over to my hand. He then put his paw on my finger. I put my thumb over his paw and shook his hand. My Dad left, smiling and shaking his head.

    Friends, who came to visit me, always greeted, Joe. Joe and Duchess, my dog, had a reputation on Miami Beach as being almost human. Actually, they were more than human.