There is a frog that lives outside my house in the decorative bricks. It is ribbitting like there is no tomorrow. My husband says the frog is doing that because it is mating season. I think it is because the frog is trying to warn the others. If that amphibian has lived near our house for very long, he knows that there are almost a dozen animals buried in our yard, and I think he is trying to protect his friends. His croak is a warning, it means: Stay away, these people are killers! We really aren’t murderers, the pets we had just died, mostly of natural causes. I would call it the circle of life but it is more like the cul-de-sac of life, you can enter but just know ahead of time that it is a dead end.
I don’t want to bore you with all the sordid details, let’s just say we have more shoeboxes full of skeletons buried in the yard than any other family on our street. I think that our reputation has spread, because the last time we pet-sat for someone, they told us there would be an extra $50 in it if they came back and their pet was dead. Of course we turned them down, but 2 weeks later their beloved family pet died anyway. I guess just being in our home, seeing the carnage all around him, was enough for the animal to give up the ghost. Of course, we didn’t get the $50 because of a technicality, some mumbo-jumbo about the fact that it didn’t happen on our property.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like animals, I just don’t looooooove them. My kids love animals, in fact, the little one’s first word was “goggie” (read: doggie), and he said he is going to change his name to “Puppy Lover” when he turns 20. Why? Because he loves puppies. When I tell folks that I am not an animal lover it brings out a lot of hostility in them. They make all kinds of assumptions just from my one statement. They automatically think I am a cold, heartless person. They insinuate that I am going to canvas the neighborhood looking for dogs to roast over an open flame and serve alongside potato salad. I am not going to do that. Besides, I am sure they taste just like chicken anyway, so really, what is the point?
It does not make me a bad person just because I don’t want to dress up four-legged creatures in sweaters and hot-dog costumes and carry them around in a purse. It makes me a sane person. It does not make me a lunatic just because I don’t want to follow my dog around all day with a little blue bag to carry his business in. I like to see animals and play with them, cuddle them and watch them run on a wheel or swim in their tanks; I am just not obsessed with them. I enjoy the company of animals but we are not in a co-dependant relationship.
Besides, I think the pet craze has gotten out of hand. I hear of people on the news getting bigger and deadlier animals as pets. One story recently, was about a woman who kept a chimpanzee as a pet. Keeping a humongous ape, that weighs more than the average man, in your house and dressing it up in a diaper does not even sound like a good idea in theory, let alone in actuality. The animal eventually went nuts and viciously attacked the neighbor, totally unprovoked. Details did surface that the animal was on anti-depressants, which just goes to show that medication alone does not work; chimps need therapy in addition to a prescription.
Ok, so people are pushing the limits of the kinds of animals to keep, maybe they just don’t know the in’s and out’s of adopting a pet. So, here are my tips for shopping for a new family pet:
Any animal that outweighs you by 100 or more pounds should be automatically disqualified from being a pet.
Any animal that is a natural predator of homo-sapiens (yes, this means you) should not be a pet.
Any animal that is considered “a pest.” This means an animal in which an exterminator is called to people’s homes to eradicate, should not be living in yours.
Any animal that can survive, and thrive, in a public sewer system should not be kept as a pet.
Any animal that sprays toxic fumes/poisons that could potentially blind, paralyze, kill and/or maim you, should not be a pet.
Animals that eat their young, are potentially ok. Animals that eat your young, not ok.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, “But my kids will want one of these animals. How do I dissuade them from selecting an animal that doesn’t fit into the ‘safe’ category?” Well, if this is the case, here is an example of how you handle that type of conversation:
“Mom, can I get a King Cobra?”
“Mom, can I get a scorpion?”
“Hey, Mom, how about a tiger?”
“But Mom, I really want a dingo.”
“Remember that little kid that used to run around here for a few years? He had blonde hair like yours and slept with your old teddy bear? You called him brother?”
“He was eaten by a dingo.”
Now, that you are getting the hang of it, go out and pick up a new pet. Maybe a free cat from a box in front of the grocery store, or a nice neutered dog from your local animal shelter. Oh, and one last tip, don’t get something exotic, like a one-of-a-kind hairless Burmese cat or a Brazilian scarlet macaw. In the event that something goes awry, you may need a pet look-alike to fill in. So you should pick an animal that is generic and easy to find replacements for. You know, like in case the new pet dies in an accident or because of a mysterious illness. Or, in case you ask us to pet-sit for you. I am just saying . . .