Buch’s wild kingdom
By Jim Bucher
Photo: The Bucher family pet: Chinny the chinchilla
We’ve had pets as far back as I remember – my parents loved Boston terriers. They had two: one before I was born named Tuffy, then during my early life, Tuffy II was a part of the Bucher household. My father buried both behind our garage. They had passed on, of course. Then, I found a couple of strays that we took in right around the beginning of the “Saturday Night Live” craze and appropriately named each pup Chevy and Chase. If you were an early “SNL” fan, you’ll get it.
Then, as I moved into matrimony, my bride-to-be grew up with boxers – which was perfect because of all the fighting we did. So, the cutest boxer puppy ever adopted us. How about a name with some “meat” to it? You know, a big strong boxer dog should have a tough name. We settled on Tinkerbelle, which was perfect when she was a tiny thing, but about 90 pounds later the name didn’t quite fit because she turned out to be the size of a small car.
She was the love of our life before kids … actually, after kids she was still the love of our life. One time, she broke loose from her crate and gobbled up an entire package of red licorice while we away for most of an afternoon. Guess what? Yep, you guessed it, at least ten plies of red throw-up all over our new carpet. Lesson learned; buy black licorice next time, blends in with the carpet better.
Tinkerbelle had a favorite rubber toy that looked like the old cartoon character, Huckleberry Hound. Well, for some reason she wasn’t eating and off to the vet we went. And guess what again? Yes, again, you guessed correctly, she ate it whole. So, the doc induced vomiting and out popped Huckelberry along with candy wrappers, part of a kid’s toy and some hairpins. Reminded me of when they cut the shark’s gut open in the movie “Jaws” and a license plate fell out.
Well, like brilliant dog owners, we cleaned the toy off and it went missing again. I’m not gonna ask the “guess what” question again because you know the answer and if this was “Jeopardy,” you’d be the grand champ.
SHE SWALLOWED IT AGAIN!
This time, Huckleberry was sentenced to the recycle bin.
Many fun times with our Tinkerbelle, but as life does its thing and she grew old, it was time. As every pet lover knows, it was so very difficult to put her down. She was very ill and I held her as she went to sleep the final time. That event was traumatic enough that I held off from adopting yet another animal for quite some time.
Somewhere in that time frame and after explicitly requesting no cats whatsoever – I come from a dog family – and …
My wife interrupts, “But it’s the cutest kitten ever and we can name him Sinatra.”
“NO WAY, NO HOW and … wait, you named him Sinatra?” I asked.
I was a sucker; P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and in that particular moment, I am it. I grew up listening to my Dad’s Sinatra records and have even more appreciation for him now. So, Sinatra the cat is now a part of our little animal planet.
Next, two kids came into the picture. So, my wife at the time suggested a kitten for each.
“But they need to promise to love, cherish and clean the litter boxes ‘til death do us part,’” I said firmly.
“No problem,” she said.
You know what’s coming next, right?
As soon as the kittens became cats, well, Daddy inherited the clean-up duties, which included purchasing cat litter, food and, of course, all the vet bills to boot. Now, somewhere in all that cat poop, the family talked me into another dog.
“How can we afford that?” I asked.
“Well,” said my wife, “I lost my engagement ring and turned it into insurance, so we have money for a French bulldog.”
I knew the marriage was doomed then. Instead of a replacement engagement ring, I was replaced by a dog. We, being huge jazz fans, named her Ella after the great Ella Fitzgerald. She is my perfect companion, unconditional love.
What I can do without (and details are still sketchy on this), we – or should I say I – inherited a chinchilla. Something about the previous owner’s kids were allergic, or something like that. I think the real story was that the previous owners broke out in hives over the cost of caring for this rodent.
So, in our house was our newest guest, Chinny the chinchilla, who of course needs a special sand bath with expensive special sand that costs a special fortune. Add the expensive food, cage, exercise wheel and of course, some sort of special twigs they like, which I believe is imported from some exotic desert in another part of the world, or my luck, some guy’s backyard. I told my kids, “I’m not caring for it, cleaning after it or feeding it.” Again, with the guessing … I’m doing it all. All in all, I don’t know what I would do without my furry friends in my life other than be a tad bit healthier in the wallet.
Hey, wonder how I’d look in a chinchilla hat.
The views and opinions expressed in On the Beat are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes only.
For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.