The drop-off in my blog numbers after my recent posting has confirmed my earlier speculation that people like to read, watch, think about sex and nothing else can capture their attention in quite the same way. I tried to write a nice little account of my life with various pets and what happens? No one cares because it wasn’t about SEX.
Would it help if I mentioned that every one of my pets has paraded around the house stark NAKED? That’s right, not a stitch of clothing on any one of them. (Well, my kids put a Superdog cape on one of our dogs at one point but I think that counts more as dressing up than actually dressing.)
Can’t we get our minds out of the gutter?
I’ll admit I’m somewhat to blame. I originally intended to write a short little post about how many pets we have and somehow I got bogged down into beginning a list of every single animal that’s ever lived with us, and I admit that that’s probably about as interesting to someone who doesn’t know me (or possibly who does) as having to sit through dozens of vacation slides without the benefit of a good stiff drink.
So I’m going to sum up the rest of my animal experience as quickly, succinctly and salaciously as possible.
1. Millipedes are not even remotely sexy and you don’t want to cuddle up with them after a long day of work. I should know: we’ve had two. Most of the time, they curl up into a tight armored ball. If you’re really lucky, they stretch out into a long, armored line.
2. Spiders are more beautiful than you’d think and they look not unlike Angelina Jolie with their skinny little arms and legs. When I was a kid, my dad used to empty an entire can of Raid on any poor defenseless little eight-legged creature who was stupid enough to wander into our suburban paradise. It’s not surprising that I grew up terrified of spiders. Then I went and gave birth to someone who never met an crawling creature he didn’t like. From the time he was tiny up until now (he’s fourteen and in high school), he’s collected bugs. (Hence the praying mantis he has on his dresser, in a terrarium that’s more spacious than most college dorm rooms. The praying mantis is tough, cannabalistic, handsome, and very cool–just like that guy who broke your heart in college.)
But my son’s heart belongs mostly to the arachnids. He knows that only two species around here are dangerous and he’ll let all the rest crawl all over him. He’s always caught spiders in jars and containers for closer study. I used to shudder if I got too close and then gradually, bit by bit, I started to notice myself how beautiful they were. And how useful. I can’t say I want a spider sleeping on my pillow at night the way the cat does, but I would never ever kill one. Except maybe a black widow.
2. Any dog is going to be way more work than you think it’s going to be so you’d better love it a lot. A lot. The good news is that some dogs are THAT lovable. Take for example Harvey, our yellow lab. We bought him at a school auction. It was love at first sight, especially for my husband who–and this is true–doesn’t actually like dogs. He’s a cat guy. But when the auction people brought out this big yellow puppy and started handing it around for people to see, something abuot the sweet, dopey expression on his face and the calmness of the way he handled the whole situation got to Rob and when I said–with my usual recklessness–“Shall we bid on him?” he amazed me by saying yes. His hand went up, the auctioneer pointed it out, and then there was DEAD SILENCE as no one raised my bid. Not even five minutes had passed from the moment we laid eyes on the pup to ownership.
If you have a dog you love, I don’t need to tell you what it’s like. Harvey is goodness, kindness, loyalty, and warmth all in one big doggy packet. He also poops like you wouldn’t believe, has destroyed our lawn with his pee, steals food and destroys lunchboxes, and throws up every once in a while just to make sure we’re paying attention. He’s a big ole pain in the ass and I love him dearly.
We also have a rescue dog from the wonderful Lange Foundation in West LA. Cora was old when we got her (hence her old lady name) and she’s become, amazingly enough, even OLDER in the years since then. She toddles around the house, playing the role of a small black rug very convincingly, loves me more than any other living creature, and is sadly unreliable around other animals, having attacked more than one friend’s dog. So she gets put away when other animals come over. She’s a strange little girl but somehow she became ours.
3. Mice smell a lot and kids get tired of them. But their little faces are awfully cute.
4. Turtles are beautiful to watch. They really are. I can stare at my son’s turtle tank, watching them, for long periods of time. They lack the cuddle factor though. And they’re not at all sexy.
5. Fish and frogs serve a function. I’m not sure what it is, but they must or we wouldn’t have had so many in our lives, right? My oldest son has had a little water frog for longer than we’ve had any other pet. Generations of aquatic creatures have come and gone in our lives and this one little frog in his room has hung on. I will mourn the day Napoleon dies.
6. Coyotes are a real threat. I can’t make a joke about this. We’ve lost too many cats to coyotes. And because all of our cats have been rescues, it’s been really hard to keep them indoors–they’ve had a taste of the outdoor life and will do anything to get back out there. So for a long time, we gave up on having cats.
7. If you want a pet, go to a rescue foundation, please. We decided we missed having a cat in our lives and went back to the Lange Foundation. Their inventory of both cats and dogs was staggering, leading me to wonder whether people stop having (or at least acquiring) pets when the economy’s bad. At any rate, two of my sons and I spent hours there getting to know the kittens and cats and in the end brought home the most gorgeous Persian I’ve ever seen–he looks like a stuffed animal come to life. We didn’t choose him because he’s beautiful, though–I’m trying to teach my kids that it’s the personality that counts, not looks, whether you’re choosing friends, lovers, or pets. We chose this guy because he curled up on our laps, purred like a motor gone mad, and gave us headbumps by the score.
Even as I write, he’s curled up on a box of scrap paper by the window. We’re keeping him inside–this one is NOT going to be some coyote’s dinner. (Although I suppose coyotes gotta eat, too). Plus if we keep him confined to this one big upstairs section of the house, we figure all our friends and relatives with allergies can still come over (we hope). He and the yellow lab get along very well–the dog is slightly scared of the cat, the cat is completely unfazed by the dog. I’m keeping the little black dog far away from him, though.
Most importantly, Sir Percy the cat looks fantastic wearing nothing more than the fur he was born in. This is one RED-HOT SEXY cat . . .