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Pets

13 Nov

from September 6, 2007

Pets. Everyone has them.

Teachers have teacher’s pets. You know, the kids who, even when the rest of the class is stoned or asleep, they’ll have an answer and keep you from yelling at everyone else. You like those kids. (Except when those Junior Mr.-Know-It-Alls Don’t stop asking annoying questions. Then you want to kill them.)

Congressmen have pet projects. They’re those pork-barrel filled legislations designed to put a lot of money in the pockets of some powerful lobby, not to mention the Congressmen, that have no use at all except to waste budget money that could be spent on better things, like a committee to determine whether pro-wrestlers use steroids. (Well duh.)

Most of us have pet peeves, those little things that bug the shit out of us until we want to rip our hair out or drop a piano on someone or claim the dingoes ate the baby. (Yeah, like that happened.) One of my numerous pet peeves is the expression “could care less.” UGH!!!!! Let me explain. If you could care less, then there is a certain level of caring present, which could conceivably dip even lower. What you mean (and yes, I’m talking to you!) to say is “I couldn’t care less.” Because if you could not care less, that’s it. You can’t get any lower. It’s rock bottom. So stop saying it or I’ll sic the dingoes on you.

However, what I’m talking about today are actual pets. You know, those little living things with fur or fins or feathers, scales, whatever. Or if you’re lucky enough to own a chimera, fur and feathers.

Before we get started, let’s make it clear- there are some bad pets out there, things that should not be pets under any circumstances. Here is a brief list:

GOOD PETS                                                  BAD PETS
Dog                                                                 Mongoose

Cat                                                                   Buffalo
Fish                                                                 Swine
Bird                                                                 Condor
Hamster                                                        Chupacabra

Here is an example of why it is a bad idea to keep a pet buffalo, taken straight from one of my favorite news sources, News of the Weird:

In Salem, Wisconsin, an 1800-pound bull that had been treated as a pet killed its owner as he tried to take it to slaughter one day after the bull trampled a farmhand to death. Said the grieving owner, “You can’t trust a buffalo.”

Indeed. Words to live by.

“But,” you ask, “what kind of pet is right for me?” Thanks for the question. I love it when people leave the important questions of their life to me. It makes me feel like a big man.

The pet that’s right for you is a very subjective question. In general, if you are allergic to cats, don’t get a cat. If you sleep late and never go out, don’t get a dog. If you have friends who think its fun to dump beer into the fish tank, then by God don’t get fish.

What you should get depends on your needs. Why are you getting the pet? Want a companion? Get a dog. Want to keep a box of poop-filled sand in your house? Get a cat. Want to be annoyed by seeds tossed all over the room? Get a bird. Want a pet you can flush? A fish is right for you.

When I was a kid my brother and I had two turtles. We loved them. We’d take them out of the tanks and watch them crawl around on the floor. We’d take out our toys and pretend the trucks were racing the turtles. We loved them. We were kids. We were stupid. Turtles are bad pets. They don’t do anything. They are slow and you can’t pet them- they can’t feel it though their shells. And they live forever so you are stuck with them, unless you drop them down the sewer to fend for themselves, uh, like I heard people do. Not that I did that with my turtle.

I had a cat named Spencer when I was young. She was great and I loved her. She developed a tumor on her spine and she was put to sleep. It was very traumatic. Let’s move on.

After Spencer I had a dog named McDuff. Don’t know why we named him that, it just sounded good. We had fun with him, we walked him, we took great care of him, but ultimately we had to give him away. There were two little problems.

1-     McDuff would bark and howl when he was alone. We did whatever we could. We left the TV on, we left the radio on, we left recordings of us talking on, we played a tape in the VCR of us when we were out. Nothing worked. Of course, this wasn’t a problem for us. The barking was all when we were out. McDuff was pretty silent when we were there, but the neighbors had a little problem.

2-     We could not housebreak McDuff. We’d walk him for hours and hours, stop at every tree, every hydrant, watch him sniff everything in existence, and still the dog would crap on the rug as soon as he got upstairs. We read all the books, talked to the vets, nothing worked. This was a problem.

Eventually the combination of noise and crap got to be too much and he had to go. (For the same reasons, some of my students will have to go too.)

I also used to have a fish tank. Fish are calming and nice to look at, provided you buy interesting fish. I had some very beautiful fish and they were nice in their tank, until they got the Ick. I am not making that up. Ick is a fish disease and it is short for icthyosomethingIdon’tknow. It is some kind of fungus that looks like white spots on the fish, and once it gets in your tank forget it. I lost all my fish and had to sterilize the tank and everything in it. I never knew how it got started but I was sure I ended it. Until the next group of fish caught the Ick. So the tank went out in the trash.

Pets are wonderful for so many reasons. In fact, there are so many reasons that I won’t list them here- they’re just too obvious and it would be beneath you to read them.

Just remember that having a pet is a big responsibility. If you don’t pay your phone bill it’ll get cut off, but you can still get it turned back on. If you don’t feed your pet it will die, and there is no coming back from that. (Unless your pet is a Buddhist.) And frankly, a dead pet is more trouble than a live pet. They smell. They attract flies. They have to be dumped on someone’s doorstep and then what about the money you wasted on the leash, bowl, and getting the thing spayed? Take it from me; it is a good idea to keep your pets alive.

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