Animal House

I decided, for this entry, to get off the subject of opera and write about something that is far more dear to me--animals. I have long felt that if I had not become a musician, I would have liked too have become a veterinarian. I remember reading those wonderful James Herriot books and thinking, although he had a tough job, that the caring for animals would be something that I’d like to do. I spent a lot of time with animals as a kid and always enjoyed working on the local farms in Central Illinois. We always had a dog or cats around our own home. I even had a couple of parakeets at one time.

Shortly after my wife and I were married, we went to the local animal shelter and picked out our first kitten (“Gretel”). Another (“Salome”) joined us a year later and then our first puppy (“Molly”) about 12 months after that. Except for a very few days since then, we’ve not been without at least one animal in the house. When we lost our wonderful Brittany (“Belle”) two years ago, we thought we’d wait months before getting another dog. She passed away suddenly in January and we didn’t want to take on house training in the middle of winter.

Those sentiments, happily, only lasted about 10 days and then this wonderful lab that you see in the picture came into our lives. “Julie” is such a sweet and gentle dog--but very rambunctious at times as well. She’s also an outstanding watch dog. Here you see her with my youngest son’s guinea pig, “Elvis” (full name--”Elvis Pigsley”). My son has taken a real liking to animals as well. Maybe he’ll be the member of the Held family who finally becomes a vet. I promise to help sing the animals to sleep every night. I’ve been doing that for human audiences for years.