My Grandpa Colligan always said not to trust anyone who didn’t like or mistreated animals. He was a wise man. I have found this to be true.

All my life from the time I was a child, I have loved animals — big ones, little ones, ones you can ride and ones who would eat you if given a chance. Bengal tigers. They were not to be messed with. They would eat you if they could, but I have loved them all my life. They are beautiful.

Bears are not teddy bears. They will hurt you and possibly eat you, especially mama bears with their young around. I remember one time when a man got just a tad too close to a mama bear. His camera was almost in her face. She took one swipe with her long-clawed paw and he almost lost his face. He was lucky. He ducked in time and backed away quickly. This was in the Smoky Mountains where people are warned all the time about how bears are not pets. They are wild animals and do not consider you their friends.

When we lived in Morocco (Daddy was in the Air Force), we acquired a little gold terrier that was a pure bred Basenji. This is a breed that is native to Central Africa. His owner, whose last name was Gosling, was being transferred to a place where he couldn’t take his dog. Daddy told him he would take him and this is how were came to love Goose, his name. He was gold with a white chest and a curly little tail. He was a smart little dog and well behaved ... sort of. He did like to try to escape sometimes.

On our way back to the states he sat under Mom’s plane seat out of Casablanca. We landed in Paris to change planes and Goose once again sat under Mom’s plane seat. I sat on the floor sometimes to pet him. He was pretty scared. No one even knew he was there until we landed in New Foundland for refueling. The pilot came out and he actually took Goose out of the plane so our little Goose could relieve himself. I have always thought he did it on the wing of the plane.

Goose was such an intelligent dog. His breed is known as the barkless dog and this is true, but he made all kinds of other noises to let us know what he was thinking. He sometimes sounded like he wanted to talk.

I had a pet turtle once. No, he wasn’t furry. He was one of those tiny, dime store baby turtles which were all the rage in the late ’50s and ’60s before a salmonella outbreak put an end to their sales. I named him Speedy and he was a cute little thing, but he didn’t live long. I don’t know why because he had a nice grassy home with rocks and plenty of water. When he died Mom had a funeral for him. We even sang some hymns and said some prayers. Little Speedy got a good send off.

The greatest furry family member so far was our Australian Shepherd/Border Collie, Patches. Some friends had to move to a job location and could not take her with them. They were truly heart-broken but knew she would have a good home with us. They were right. She was my saving grace when Bill had to be hospitalized for almost a year with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder back in the late ’80s. I didn’t sleep in our room. I slept on the couch and Patches slept on the floor right next to me. Sometimes I’d put my hand on her head for reassurance. She’d nuzzle my hand as if to say, “I’m here.” Goodness, I loved that dog.

She was my babysitter when the kids ventured out into the pastures and nearby woods. I knew that if Patches was with them, no harm would come to them. She was fiercely protective but not vicious, although she didn’t like the sounds of tractors or motorcycles. She might just nip a body part of the owner. Patches lived to be 16, a ripe old age for an Aussie. What a great dog. I miss her to this day, some 30 years after she passed.

My big white dog Carlee came to us back after my father died. She filled a whole in my heart for five years before she unexpectedly became ill and had to be put down. That was heart-breaking to me. I loved her.

I have Mom’s dog now, Tippy (Doodle), a precious little part Wire-haired Terrier. I am blessed to have her. I’ve cherished all my furry family members. I hope you cherish yours.

Oh, I almost forgot. A new granddog joins our family soon, Lily Blue. She’s an Aussie.

Coleen Brooks is a longtime resident of Gordon County who previously wrote for the Calhoun Times as a columnist. She retired as the director and lead instructor for the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Adult Education Department in 2013. She can be reached at

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