Sunday, August 25, 2013


I’m not talking about you, of course, but pet owners can be so annoying. Oh, I know what you’re thinking-that I just don’t understand and that, clearly, I have never experienced the joy of pet ownership. To that I say you may have a point. But, seriously, why the need for a bumper sticker that proclaims:  “I love my Labrador Retriever”?  Are you hoping that fellow Labrador enthusiasts will feel a kinship towards you and avoid rear-ending your car?  Or, are you hoping they will pull up next to you at a traffic light to chat about Labs?  I don’t get it…And I also don’t understand people who plaster pictures of their pets all over their office (or cubicles) at work.  They have dozens more pictures than I have of my kids (does that make me a bad mother? do they enjoy making me feel inferior?)  And they always want to tell you stories, lots of stories about how brilliant, charming and adorable their pet is and why their pet should perform on the Letterman show.

Well, I need to set the record straight: I have indeed owned pets and have even lived with other people’s pets. In fact, my favorite roommate in college also happened to own my least favorite cat in the world. This cat hissed and nipped at me any time I encroached on his territory, which apparently was the entire apartment with the exception of my room.  I tried to win him over, but he was unimpressed. The most amazing thing was how oblivious my roommate was to her cat’s open hostility.  She explained that he liked me-he was just being “standoffish.”     

When I was a kid, my father brought home a Basset Hound and named him Boris. He was kind of cute, in a droopy sort of way, (the dog, not my father) but, if Boris liked us, he kept it to himself.  He also had one particularly unendearing quality, he smelled terrible! And no amount of bathing could change that. Naturally, my mother didn’t want him in the house, except at night when he slept in the utility room-with the door tightly closed. Undaunted, my father bought Boris a dog house. If Donald Trump decided to keep an outside dog, he would buy this exact dog house. It had all of the amenities, including indoor/outdoor carpet and a fan, and it was huge!  Our tree house wasn’t half as nice, not that I harbor any resentment. Well, not anymore. My Dad was so proud of that dog house that he actually took people outside to take a tour.

One day, it was pouring like it would never stop. My dad looked out the window and then slammed his coffee cup down. “Unbelievable! Boris is standing out in the rain! Why doesn’t he go in his dog house?” My dad marched outside and, while we watched through the window, he tried to show Boris how to go into the doghouse by crawling on all fours and going into it himself. Boris just stood there as the rain pelted him from every direction. Frustrated, my dad proceeded to half-carry, half-shove the recalcitrant hound into his palatial home. But, as soon as Boris was inside, he turned around and walked out again. After spending an hour in the rain trying to keep the dog from getting wet, my Dad came in the house, exhausted and soaked to the bone, muttering, “What a stupid dog…”

Soon after that, we had to give Boris away due to his other bad habit, which we didn’t even know he had.  One after another, our neighbors began calling to complain. It turned out that when we weren’t home, Boris howled non-stop. He was so loud, he was scaring their children.  They couldn’t hear their TV sets even with the windows closed. So it was “Bye bye Boris,” we hardly knew you.

And don’t think my experience with pet ownership ended there.  No Sir, it did not. When our boys were young, they convinced us that we needed a dog. Foolishly, we decided to rescue a dog from Animal Control, not realizing that our chance of finding a normal dog there was practically zero. As it turned out, cute little Sunny was in a class by himself- a little Cock-a-Poo with a big problem. It wasn’t a problem for him, it didn’t faze him a bit, but when Sunny received anything more than a passing glance, he became so excited that he wet the floor. Sadly, we could only be friendly to Sunny when we were outside; inside, we had to maintain a cool cordiality from a safe distance.

We were prepared to live with Sunny’s strange quirk if it hadn’t been for his other issues.  First, he started snapping at non-existent flies; then he started licking his left front paw incessantly for no apparent reason (although I’m sure he had an excellent reason for snapping at imaginary flies). The vet prescribed Prozac for his OCD (yes, dogs can have OCD), but it didn’t help. Soon after that, Sunny started jumping up on the table and peeing on the mail (on purpose!) and he had to go.

Several peaceful, pet-free years passed and our memories faded to the point that when our youngest son begged for a dog for his birthday, we capitulated. Somehow, we ended up with not one but two dogs, sisters named Abby and Phoebe. Vivid memories of Sunny suddenly returned and we waited for the nightmare to begin again but now times two! We waited and waited and…nothing happened. Well, something happened. We discovered that we had two perfectly house-trained dogs who were sweet and good-natured and only barked at the mailman. Soon, we learned how brilliant, charming and adorable they could be and so clever that they were sure to be on the David Letterman show one day. I just happen to have some pictures, would you like to see them?

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