The Pet Prison or “How Pets Run My Life”

Hi there…

This is a bit off topic, but still I feel compelled to say something…

When I catch my cat or dog watching me for no apparent reason, just waiting for some undisclosed event to occur, I start to wonder… Who actually runs my house? Is it me or my wife? My daughters? No, it’s my pets. Two dogs and two cats demanding attention, food, and room to run or express themselves… I find myself a prisoner in my own house, locked up and unpaid for my pet-sitting services.

It starts innocently enough. You get a pet to keep you company. Some cute puppy gets picked because it was sad and then so happy when you picked it up, all fuzzy and soft with puppy kisses and those adorable puppy eyes. And it appears so happy when you bring it home too, but that’s when the training begins. Not the puppy or kitten being trained – but you.

There’s three main areas of training…

First, there’s the cleanup. When an animal pees on the carpet or floor, you reprimand it and clean it up… but this is only a temporary solution. The long-term effects of that one incident are so much more insidious. Some invisible marker is laid down in that spot until you replace the floor, the carpet, the furniture, the rug, and so on. So every pet who ever comes to your house knows that’s the place some other animal has been. It might even be your own pet that decides that since he or she peed there once before, it’s ok to do it again. And thus begins the merry-go-round of pet action (pee, poop, vomit…), reprimand, clean, repeat…

Second there’s the daily feeding. You must feed the pet at a particular time or they feel they will surely fade away. And it must be a particular type or brand served in a particular way (I call this the “Fancy Feast” syndrome) or they will turn their noses up at it. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ll also want a little bit of whatever you’re having. Or perhaps they have grander dreams of stealing the whole roast, ham, or turkey right off the table and hiding it somewhere to snack on until they don’t want it any more.

And third, there’s the regular “doody” duty… Typically you’re on your own here with a cat box or backyard or out on a walk with a plastic bag. (Some dogs may actually do this for you and clean up the delicious and nutritious (and disgusting) doggy or kitty truffles, so you have to watch that.) You may wonder how one (or more) animals could possibly poop or pee this much, so you upgrade… to a bigger cat box or pooper-scooper… and it’s still never enough. Somehow you can never get the smell of animal excrement or urine out of your house or backyard. There’s always that one last “present” you never can find. And you can’t get too comfortable, because as soon as you have an area cleaned, it must be christened…

Beyond those three areas there are other minor insanities as well…

Some animals are kleptomaniacs. And not only will they steal your stuff, but they’ll hide it somewhere you’ll never look or can’t reach. Maybe you’ll notice that a sock or a toy goes missing. Or maybe it’s something more important like your car keys. Hide and seek was never this fun as kids!

And then there are the odd behaviors that crop up during broad daylight or the middle of the night. Maybe you have a cat like we do who steals socks from our daughters and howls at them like they’re her baby. Or maybe you have a dog who must circle 20+ times before lying down, standing up, and then circling the other way so she’s not dizzy. Or perhaps you have a cat who likes to sleep on your head (it’s very warm there after all).

But there are good things about having pets, right? There must be something positive about these critters who have invaded your home, take infinite amounts of time and patience, time, and money… There must be!

Well, sometimes… When you’re sad, lonely, or sick and just need a friend, who’s there for you? And who doesn’t like to curl up with a good book or a movie and a dog? The two (or more) of you can be happy and warm for hours. And making a cat purr incessantly or petting her until she drools just means she’s so happy you decided to spend time with her.

Marley and Me had it right… No matter how mad you may get at a pet, you can’t stay mad forever. And they are there for you to the end.

Are pets a pain? Yes. Are they worth it? Mostly yes. Some days I even think I may enjoy my animal-run prison facility. What about you?

–Fitz

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