Though there are no photos of nine-year-old Tot’s hamster, Hammy, here is the condolence note his six-year-old sister, Callie, wrote him when Hammy died. A good lesson in animal and sibling love for us all. Sorry, Tot. Thank you, Callie. RIP, Hammy.


Miss Elegance (Ellie or Elle)


Elle, as I knew her, was my paternal grandparent’s dog. I would see her, my grandmother, Mudder, and my grandfather, Daddy D, once a year during our Easter visits to Houston. Elle was graceful, sweet, and painfully shy. She appeared to be a mix between a deer and a dog (now I can see she must have had greyhound in her). She was so skinny that when she curled into an “O” on her bean-bag bed you could see every bump in her back.

Elle’s most beloved, Mudder, memorialized her with her remarkable needlepoint skills at age seventy-three, pictured below. (And let me just say, you think this is something, you haven’t seen anything. Mudder could stitch the Sistene Chapel. I’m even willing to bet she has.) Now ninety-four, Mudder no longer needlepoints – and I just miraculously inherited this tribute to Elle. Upon unpacking it, I was so moved to find the following words (along with Elle’s identification tag and the photo of my grandfather walking with Elle above) attached to the back, written in my grandmother’s patient cursive: “Ellie came from the SPCA, had been abused and was so afraid of shoes. Had she been kicked!? Horror. Eventually her trust grew and she loved us as we, she. The snapshot is her walk for the 5K Canine (K9) in 1988. What a dog!!!”

Thank you, Elle, one of the beautiful dogs of my youth. I now have a graceful, sweet, shy dog of my own – Safari – and I think of you every time I gently caution someone that when meeting him it’s better not to make eye contact. “If you hold your hand out,” I always say, “and look away, he will come to you.” You taught me that. Patience. I am so glad you found your way to Mudder and Daddy D. I am grateful I knew you. I do think, Miss Elegance, that for you there was no more perfect name.


– Chloe