As a child growing up in the late 60‘s and early 70’s, I was a devoted viewer (ok, OBSESSED is a more accurate term) of every network television show that I could find with animals in the cast. To name a few there was Flipper (Duh ;-), Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Lassie, Wonderful World of Disney, Bonanza … because they road horses (and I had a huge crush on Little Joe but that’s another blog entry), The Beverly Hillbillies because their cast members included chimpanzees, dogs, a deer, opossums, bears, goats, raccoons, kangaroos, AND Green Acres because they “adopted” a pig named Arnold Ziffel as their son. I truly loved watching them all but when DAKTARI came on the television NO ONE could touch the knob!!! It was my HANDS DOWN favorite from the moment I saw the first show and I dreeeeeeeamed of becoming a veterinarian so that I could travel to “The Compound” in Africa to work with Dr. Tracy! Because of course, I KNEW his daughter Paula was going to have to get married someday (as all girls did back then … meh)! And I KNEW that I would to be the ONLY person that Dr. Tracy would accept to replace her!!! Mostly because I would be like a second daughter to him and NEVER get married and leave The Compound, because why would? I couldn’t wait to go to AFRICA and work with Clarence The Cross Eyed Lion!!! Yah, well let me tell you, I really believed ME back then and it was because of Clarence that I dreamed of becoming that veterinarian and finding my way to Africa. As childhood dreams often morph into strange versions of the original, as an adult I did not actually pursue a career as a veterinarian but I did become a professional dog groomer 😉 and I have a very special affection for Chow Chows! Funny, right?
Now, some 40 years later, (ahem, did I write that out loud?), I found myself on the Serengeti with my daughter by my side, massive cameras in both our hands … and although this boy is NOT Cross Eyed and he did NOT (probably a good thing) jump on me for hugs and kisses like I’d dreamed of since my childhood, I did find MY Clarence … I’ve named him “NIK” and I finally brought him home!