When I was a kid I had a pet slug I called Sluggo. Later, I got a pet rat and named him Ratso. In high school, I had an Iguana. His name was Iggy. I was never strong on the pet names • In junior high, we had a family dog named Ritz. My sister named her, I think. After the cracker.  Ritz was sweet and energetic and loyal and still pretty young when my dad killed her • The day I passed my oral exams in graduate school, my now-wife, Helen, gave me a dog. She was a Harrier hound.  Her name was Ella. I loved that dog beyond measure. The week she died was the worst week of my life. I’m just glad my dad didn’t kill her. Like he killed Ritz • We’re looking for a new dog now. I’m hoping for a St. Bernard that I can call Bernardo.

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