neiceI have half a dozen nephews, but only one niece, Chloe, who is seven. The two of us have a lot in common. I believe her parents think a little too much in common (I’m the one who moved to New York). That’s not an issue yet, but Chloe is adventurous, and enterprising. She’s also (like me) an animal lover.

Her pets have been varied and rarely popular. A dog she wanted proved to be untrainable, and her parents couldn’t tolerate it (the dog was given to a friend, who was never able to housebreak it, but was able to tolerate the problem).

Chloe brought home hermit crabs from the beach. They soon escaped from their dry aquarium and wandered around the house. When they were finally caught (climbing the curtains) they were banished.

Next were two hamsters, which rapidly turned into 20 hamsters. Chloe wanted to keep them all, while her parents frantically searched for new homes for them. They could not dispose of them fast enough: for every one they gave away, at least two more appeared. Chloe’s parents’ patience wore thin. Fortunately, someone took the entire batch, all that were left. (Who knows why?)

catChloe still pushed for a pet, and announced that she wanted a cat for Christmas, and nothing else. Neither her father nor her mother likes cats. They tried to bribe her with alternative gifts, but she stood firm. Her parents finally gave in, and shortly before Christmas, went in search of a kitten. None were to be found, and the cat—her name is Whimsey—is mostly black, and partly brown. Chloe loves her and thinks she is beautiful.

Chloe has decided she wants to help more animals. She and a friend established a “business” creating items to sell—mostly hand painted pictures for less than a dollar. The accumulated money went to the ASPCA. I was touched by her “business,” and one of her birthday presents was a check made out to the ASPCA. Here is an excerpt from her thank you note:

I could not believe you knew I had been raising money for the ASPCA. It has been a lot of work but so fun. My mom took me there the other day to turn in your donation and some others. They really appreciated it—and so will the animals! I want to volunteer there but they won’t let me until I’m 13—and that’s with my mom. I don’t know if she will go with me—it doesn’t smell very good in there. P.S. Please tell Muffin [our little dog] hello for me.

I am very proud of my niece.

If anyone who reads this wants to send a message to Chloe, I will be happy to send it on!

-Aunt Reba