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Any day a good day with animals around

May 6, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Herald-Star community editor ( , The Herald-Star

Today's a good Sunday.

It's the opening show for the Steubenville Saddle Club, my old childhood stomping grounds, and I can assure you, the good Lord willing, I'll be there, not just because I'm riding a horse there as a transport favor to a friend, but because I just like being around animals and such.

After all, God's critters are my friends.

And obviously, that includes the ones in the equine department.

But I've always been an animal lover, which is not headline, stop-the-presses news here, but it is nonetheless a reality reaffirmed when I was looking through some boxes of old pictures in recent weeks.

That seems to be one of my ongoing pastimes any more - looking through boxes of old family photos I come across in the process of doing something else I'm supposed to be doing.

Here's the scenario: I find a box, open it, discover old pictures in it and look out, Loretta.

There go two, three, four more hours of my life I'll never get back, squinting at people, places and things in Kodak moments that had some relevance for some reason.

I am left to wonder all the while, though, why are we so terribly challenged when it comes to being conscientious about marking and organizing pictures.

Do we really think we'll have elephant memories or something and remember who this is and when that was?

Oh, well.

At any rate, I don't know why, but I was surprised to come across photos of me as a kid posing with animals.

There was one taken at the top of the steps of me with this pitiful little calico cat I now remember bringing home from the fifth grade because I had felt sorry for it, and it obviously didn't have an owner.

That cat didn't have longevity on its side, but it had an affectionate home up through its final visit to the veterinarian.

There are photos of me hugging Blackie, an outdoor dog my family had that in retrospect probably didn't have the best quality of life because he was kept outdoors except for those accidental moments of, ooops, Blackie got in the house.

I'm glad I gave Blackie hugs then just as I'm glad to give our dog Lucy hugs now, too.

Animals are pretty hug-worthy in my school of thought.

I think animal appreciation is a genetic thing.

My mom is the critter-loving sort, a lover of birds and butterflies who's content to gaze at them and their antics at bird feeders and bird baths.

She welcomes them all to the back yard, including this squirrel that loiters there, apparently having struck the mother lode in finding a food source that agrees with it.

I'm telling you, this is one hefty squirrel that could stand to get on the Jenny Craig plan.

At the rate it's going, I'll be able to put a saddle on it and ride it over to the Steubenville Saddle Club.

Now that would constitute headline, stop-the-presses kind of news.

And probably the makings for another good Sunday.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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