Kellie Martin's Blog: Curly Joe and the Meaning of Life
July 30, 2012
© Kellie Martin
Kellie is an Emmy-nominated actress who recently appeared on Lifetime’s Army Wives, and is perhaps best known for her work on ER and Life Goes On. She has assumed a new role with her takeover of ROMP, an online modern children’s boutique. Kellie is mom to 5-year-old daughter Maggie and hopes that ROMP will "inspire conscious, thoughtful parenting practice and will, in turn, help moms feel confident and fulfilled.”
I got my first dog when I was 5 years old. And, come to think of it, there’s not been a moment since then that I’ve been without some kind of pet. My first dog was a lovable mutt named Curly Joe. He came from our next door neighbors’ indiscriminate shelty, and we loved him dearly.
Not that I knew it at the time, but Curly Joe taught me a ton about life. He was my little charge. I had to feed him, make sure he went out to do his business, and, of course, fill his stocking on Christmas Eve. I did all these things from the time I was five until he went to doggie heaven 18 years later (that’s right, 18 years!). And, yes, I take great pride in the fact that I reared a dog well beyond his projected life expectancy.
I want my daughter to experience the same with the canine and feline parts of our family. Our dog and cat were living at our house long before Maggie came along. The chocolate lab embraced her immediately (isn’t that what they do?), but the cat, not so much. So, Maggie has worked hard to win her way into our cat’s heart. This includes (exclusively) feeding her and not petting her...at all.
Each morning Maggie runs to the kitchen to scoop our pets’ food into their bowls—the exact amount of food, no more, no less. Maggie even placed their photographs near their bowls so nobody gets confused (because the lab likes to eat the cat’s food, every chance she gets). This is Maggie’s job, her chore—every day. She is learning to be responsible for someone other than herself and is inadvertently learning about empathy. We’ve now moved on to having Maggie help wash and brush the dog. What’s next, washing the cat? Probably not.