For the Love of Pets.

Here at the palatial West Philly estate, there has been much recent discussion on the subject of PETS. Specifically, whether or not our soon-to-be 8 year old can have a new hamster for her upcoming birthday. As you can see from the photo, her dearly departed Hammie was the cutest cuddliest lil puffball on the face of the planet. HARD TO TOP. But I am game to try. My husband, however, is slightly less inclined. Mostly he doesn’t want to deal with 2 screaming daughters fighting over who gets to hold the new hamster, who gets to play with the new hamster, but never of course the ever-important WHO GETS TO FEED/WATER/AND CLEAN THE CAGE of the new hamster. And yet, he’ll give in. And I’ll clean the cage. Who are we kidding?

As a child I had a LOT of pets, and would regularly take in new ones. Like when my perverted 6th grade teacher had us raise mice, then told us he was going to feed them to his pet snake. The 2 mice I brought home quickly reproduced into 100, and my mommy soon shipped them all off to the Great Pet Store in the Sky (really the pet store down the street, but you know they got fed to the whole department of exotics, so what’s the difference.) BUT I was not thwarted. My parents, the big-hearted mushballs, would inevitably give in to my begging on the condition that I first learn all there was about whatever animal I wanted before bringing it home. I therefore spent many hours glued to HAMSTERS or GERBILS or RABBITS or [insert name]. I must have read every “How To” pet book in our library. I just couldn’t get enough. And Now as a grown-up, I am still the same way. Reading pet books geared towards 9 yr olds and adopting every stray that steps on my path. I’ve even managed to marry a man who works at a vet school, who constantly forwards me emails about Free horses and puppies and MORE. And whether nature or nurture, or more likely both, we have passed this fascination onto our equally animal-obsessed offspring. B/c in this house, we simply live and breathe pets.

When you take an animal into your home, it typically isn’t too long before they make themselves an inextricable part of the family. Even if they are snarly and/or slovenly, as in the case of our former 3rd hand macaw. Somehow these captivating creatures work their way into your heart and they become a part of you. I know there are people out there who hate animals, those sick bastards, but being on the opposite end of extremes, I just cannot imagine my life without them. I spend the bulk of each day with a crazy ass bird perched on my shoulder, I cannot get her off. And yet, I adore her. We talk, and smooch, and preen each other like a couple of loons. We live with a dog so large people refer to him as livestock, and yet I refer to him as my 3rd child. YES, having such close physical presence of shedding, squawking, smelly animals DOES WEAR THIN AT TIMES, but more often than not it simply soothes my soul. A steady loving constant in an otherwise chaotic world.

And just because a pet dies, doesn’t mean they leave you. Not really. My husband plans on taxidermy-ing our dog when he passes. But I don’t really mean THAT, more like As any close friend, the times you’ve shared remain in your heart. If you ever need reminding of this, read Dog Heaven. AND for Heaven’s sake, bring tissues.

This is my old cat Sammy. YES he does looked thrilled, doesn’t he? What a patient soul. He lived to the ripe old age of 18, and up until the end people never could believe just how ancient he was. He was just SO PERKY. Sammy had been a stray with the unfortunate luck of being hit by a car and brought to a local vet for mending. His car accident had left his one lip hanging perpetually open, displaying a whole lotta gum and an enormous protruding fang. People always found his appearance comical at first, but his winning personality won him a legion of adoring fans. One of the funniest stories about Sammy revolves around his relationship with my other cat at the time, Nectar. Although Sammy was a neutered male and Nectar a spayed female, Sammy was always trying unsuccessfully to GET IT ON. YES I told you he was one perky cat. As you can imagine, Nectar was NOT APPRECIATIVE of these untoward advances. They were pals, sure, but enough was enough. Soon I was calling the vet to see what I could do about the weird little situation, growing uglier by the day. Before bringing Sammy in, he advised me to check and make sure Sammy was indeed neutered. This would be accomplished by AND I QUOTE: “Squeezing them.” Yep. I am no fading violet, but the idea of having to give my cat’s empty nutsack a tweeking really didn’t appeal to me. at all.

But ask any pet owner and you will hear a million such bizarro stories, all done strictly for the love of a pet. People do not treat other human beings this good. And it’s a sin. But it’s the truth. Like the recent weeks I spent syringe-feeding our rabbit Prudence. Or the THOUSANDS we spent saving our dog last New Years after we discovered he’d swallowed a golf ball. Which of course we proudly display since it’s worth far more than most of what we own.

My husband and I were talking yesterday – and for the life of me I cannot remember exactly how we got onto this topic – but we started talking about what we would do if we were starving. He said that I would do whatever it took to eat, which I believe to be true to a certain extent. But I told him that in no uncertain terms would I ever kill and eat our dog. Now I know this whole thing must sound odd, in oh so many ways, but it just brings home my point. If I were literally dying from lack of food, there are things I just could not bring myself to do. I could not cannibalize my own family – including my pets. Though I did not give birth to them, I’ve raised them very much like my own children. In the case of our dog, from age 7 weeks to now 7 years. When we he was a tiny puppy, we lived in a 2nd floor apartment. Our older daughter was then only a year old, and while housebreaking I used to have to carry both of them upstairs/downstairs simultaneously, one in each arm. It was truly a PAIN IN THE ASS, but I did it. Why? B/c of love, pure and simple.

10 thoughts on “For the Love of Pets.

  1. Do you have time to give all of your many many pets quality time? I drew the line at two kittens because I wanted to ensure that we could make time for them. It always breaks my heart when I see people with a lot of pets, but they don’t spend much time with them.

    Like those crazy cat ladies who hard 100 cats. They think they are ‘rescuing’ the cats, but they are as good as feral.

    (And for the record I am NOT calling you a crazy cat lady! Just wanted to make sure their is no misunderstanding.)

  2. You have to let them have a new hamster.
    John… you have to! :o) In answer to the question who gets to clean it out, feed, etc… well that’s probably us but children who are brought up loving and caring for animals grow up more appreciative of all living things.
    I’ve got a cherry tree at the bottome of the garden which is now home to many a hamster, budgie, gerbil, guinea pig, rabbit, fish… (Yes I know you don’t believe me but I DID NOT FLUSH IT! ;o)
    Some may think I am a very poor pet carer… haha, really, they all live a happy sometimes, way too short life, but the pleasure they give and the love they recieve is immeasurable!
    (Still laughing at the nutsack quip!)

  3. “but we started talking about what we would do if we were starving. He said that I would do whatever it took to eat, which I believe to be true to a certain extent. But I told him that in no uncertain terms would I ever kill and eat our dog. ”

    how ironic is it that i’m current reading ‘the road’ and in the post-apocalyptic time humans have resorted to cannibalism. i asked my dear husband if he could eat a person if he was starving.

    then we took the gross topic to a whole new level by trying to figure out where we would find ‘bacon’ on human bodies or where our “T-bone” is for a t-bone steak. ahahhahaah.

    i think we win the freak competition. and as for pets, today i rescued a bunch of goldfish from a school “project” (they were prizes at a carnival last week) and cleaned their water and am now going to buy them food.

  4. Thanks Goodbear!! WELCOME.

    Hayden, I appreciate your very sincere concern, but fortunately I am not one of those who hoards animals just to *have* them. B/c I am home fulltime our pets live better than many American children. PS: What are your cats’ names? I WANT PICTURES!

    Daff, I love you! You truly do understand my madness b/c you too are equally insane. 😉 xoxo

    Curly my love, you made me LAUGGGGGGHH thinking about human bacon & steaks. I am not sure that is good, but it is DAMN FUNNY. And you are a very good person rescuing those fish. Take them home and give them a good life.

  5. Awww, I love animals too. There is just something so sweet and endearing about them.

    We only have one dog right now, but I still remember the day we got her. It was at one of those animal rescue places, where they knew nothing about her breed or where she was from. They told us she would be 40 pounds, but she grew to a healthy 93. A couple days later she got really sick. It turns out she had Parvo and had to stay overnight at the vet. They told us she might not make it. I remember going to visit her in the back room of the vet before work and staring at her tiny shaved paw with an IV in it. I cried all the way to work and at work. We’d only had her a few days and I was already in love and devastated that she was so sick. She is happy and healthy now, thank goodness! But I can completely understand the sentiments you expressed above. Once you take them home, they become a part of the family.

  6. I vote yes for more hamsters! Especially the teddy bear kind!
    We had gerbils when I was little, and after seeing hamsters, I have no idea why anyone would want a gerbil. They reproduced like crazy, and then periodically, they would have wars and cannibalize each other.
    The only hamster I ever had was the dearly departed Hamtramck that we found under a truck on the street. Joe still misses him.

  7. OrSo, you always tell the sweetest stories. Give your pup a squeezey hug from me!

    Laura, I remember that guy!! That story was too funny. Who else would FIND A HAMSTER just walking down the street??! Hilarious. And I couldn’t agree more about gerbils v. hamsters. Having had them both, there truly is no comparison.

    AND You will ALL be happy to know that we have indeed welcomed too new hamsters into the fold. I’ll post more about them once I get some pix.

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