When the kids were small, we went through a rash of wee pets – flies, spiders, stick-bugs – and then we upgraded to creatures that actually relied on us for survival. This generated a level of attachment that required naming of the pet.
Bunny rabbits, ducks, mice, rats, fish, hamsters – these pets fill our lives and the lives of our children. If we have the opportunity – something larger (“longer living”) will come into our homes & our hearts. But each one – no matter how long its stay with us – leaves its mark.
If youve met a pet – a sure fire why to know the age of its human sisters & brothers - is to ask the pet’s name. Pets belonging to children under the age of about 6 are named for their colour (Sunshine, Tany, Mink) or some other endearing feature or trait (Nibbles, Cutie, Cheddar). Slightly older children (generally boys 8-12) will have plenty of suggestions that their parents wisely do not employ (naming your dog “Everyone” will generate lots of giggles but its not effective and rather embarrassing “Everyone lets go pee”).
By the time the kids are in their teens – they will have attached themselves to TV shows, video games, books, sports and other celebrity role models and as such – their name choices reflect their interests at the time of the pet aquisition. So when I met Christine – I had no doubt that someone in her family was a fan of the X-Files TV show popular in the 90′s.
15 years ago – Christine’s family got a pet cat – and whilst Christine & her brother bandied about names – “Scully” stuck. There are whole generations of people that will never know why her cat was named Scully, understand the reference to the show & the hours of anticipation viewers would spend between episodes, or the marketing & spin-offs that followed and was created in TV land.
Naming our pet (even our children!) is a reflection of our time, our interests, our sensibilities and its as much a part of their memory as the memories themselves. So with Scully’s limbs getting more sensitive and time taking its toll – I went to Christine’s condo to capture their memories.
Whilst I always get that 5×7 framed photo smile – I think more importantly – it’s documenting the little movements, the touches, the visual smells, the private moments between a human and their pet. The way they embed themselves into our lives and our lives change because of them – the routines and rituals – these moments. The stuff we accumulate for them: the litter box that is always in the way in the bathroom, the food bowl that waits for us, the toys we trip over – these things.
These are the things that remain after our pets have left us behind – these are the things we eventually pack away or give away – but like photographs – if we touch them – we can relive those days – that part of our life that has come and gone and will never be the same again.
Scully has touched her family’s life and now – having shared a private moment with them – has touched mine as well.