Richard Parker, the Stuffed Tiger
"Dear Santa," my daughter wrote, "this is what I would like for Christmas. A stuffed animal tiger" Then she named a few books and concluded with "And last but not least, a dog! I want one really bad!" Santa gave her a stuffed tiger, which we named Richard Parker, and a violet patchwork dog which we named Violet Crumble. These would be new friends for Dogmatix, the stuffed cocker spaniel puppy. I didn't have pets growing up, but there was a stray dog and stray cat upon which we lavished attention and affection at different times. The cat would show up at the kitchen window without fail just when my mother was emptying the bottle of milk into a stainless steel pan on the stove, for boiling. It would pace back and forth, meowing until one of us poured the drops of milk that remained in the bottle onto the windowsill. As for the dog, she would sit outside the front door, which we left open so we could see her when she chose to come by. She wagged her tail when any of us walked by. I received particularly resounding tail thumps, as I petted her the most. They didn't belong to any one family, but roaming around the neighborhood, were fed and cared for. Owned by none, loved by many. That is not an experience my daughter is likely to have in this country. Given that I do not wish to own a dog, we will manage with Dogmatix, Richard Parker, Violet Crumble and their many other companions, and the dogs who belong to our neighbors.