Expanding the Cult of Pet Parenthood 08/24/2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy @ 8:42 am
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Like any cult, pet parents want to increase the membership in their cult.  While Mike and I are particularly fanatical about our birds (a cult that we were indoctrinated in by my parents but have been unable to convert anyone we know to, yet), we love it any time someone we know expands their definition of family to include a pet of any kind.

A few months ago, my best friend, Jackie, did this for the first time and it’s amazing to see the change and to hear her talk about her family now.  Jack has been with her boyfriend, Matt, for a few years now and they have made a life together here in Wisconsin.  After years of living in overly restrictive housing that prevented Jack from getting the two things she desperately wanted, an accent wall and a puppy, they moved to a duplex in another area of the city.  They are now renting directly from the homeowner, not a gigantic corporation, and enjoy more wiggle room in both areas, decoration and pet ownership.

With that opportunity in hand, Jackie and Matt decided to start considering puppy.  Jackie had long been interested in adopting an adult greyhound and began getting involved with the rescue society in their city.  They filled out all of the paper work,  had a home visit, and made several visits to different dogs to try to find the right one for them.  Finally, they met Freddy and knew he was the one.

Fast Freddy

So Freddy came to live with Jackie and Matt.  As anyone who has every adopted an adult pet knows, the transition is not always immediate.  Many adopted pets have come from neglectful or abusive situations and often it takes months to build trust and affection.  Both of our cats, Sweetness and Stella, were adopted as adults; Sweetness became mine after my grandmother passed away and we brought Stella home from the Wood County Humane Society.  Freddy has been no exception to this rule but is getting used to his new family quickly.

Freddy was a racing greyhound for the first two years of his life.  After that he was placed in a rescue and put up for adoption.  He is now four years old.  He is finally in a forever home with Jackie and Matt and has begun to build some bonds with them.  He is warming to his new home and family and I think he’s going to be very happy with Jackie and Matt.

I’m amazed at what adoption does for people, however, more than the pets.  I’ve always been an advocate of pet parenthood, not just to increase membership in the cult, because owning pets makes us better human beings.  Our hearts grow exponentially and our treatment of each other greatly improves when we share our lives with pets.  This is a lesson that many of us know about children: children are kinder to each other and to animals when raised in homes with pets.  But this works for adults, too.  Being a pet parent has made a huge difference in my life: in the ways that I deal with stress, in the ways that I treat other people and other animals, in the way I feel about myself and my place in this world.

There has been more than once, when I have felt like giving up, that I have pulled myself up by reminding myself that they depend on me.  That I have a family that needs me.

I can see that this has happened to Jackie, too.  She has always loved my pets, especially Sweetness, and been very excited and affectionate when she sees them but there was a distance there.  While she understood why I loved them and valued them, she wasn’t yet a member of the cult.  Now, as a pet parent, Jackie is in love with her dog and her new family in a way that makes me smile just to think about it.  And she can appreciate the way that I love my family in a whole new way, as well.

Here’s to all the pet parents and pet families out there.  Love each other and be grateful for all of the wonderful gifts that you give each other.

Enjoying the Good Life


Learning to Open the Chamber of Secrets 08/01/2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael @ 9:10 pm

Contrary to popular belief, there was a time when Sandy and I were not together, and I spent most of my time in a constant quest to annihilate any comer in MarioKart (for SNES, not N64, those voodoo 3D graphics are not welcome).  At that time, I was preparing to begin my student teaching experience and decided that I was interested in a bizarre pet.  I grew up in a divided household, my father enjoys grumbling about pets while at the same time sneaking behind the back of my mother to acquire them.  The roster in my childhood included cats, dogs, and the occasional fish (I will never get over the horror of my dad sticking a shiner from JR’s Sport Shop into my goldfish bowl, which led to a savage attack fitting of Shark Week).  Never did the roster include anything considered exotic, though we did keep a Tiger Salamander caught in the wild for a while.  

With my impending independence, I felt a wacky pet would be a good pickup for me to make, considering that I was going to be a biology teacher and they were supposed to keep strange animals.  I did some research initially zoomed in on to possibilities: Bearded Dragon and Red-Eared Slider.  The turtle seemed cute, but carried with it the potential for a hideously messy tank, plus the possibility of transmitting Salmonella, E.coli, or Ebola.  I switched to Beardie, which would have been cool if the tank I had picked up for free from a teacher at the elementary school wasn’t the biggest piece of shit in the history of herpetology.  So, I considered a new option: snake.  I only considered one type of snake, the aptly named E. guttata, or Corn Snake.  If my knowledge of specialty pet stores and the interesting people who run them had been as great then as now I might have considered a more exotic option.  However, while Corn Snakes are considered the most common species of pet snake, any snake seemed sufficient to freak many of the people I knew out, so that’s what I went with.


Scary Snake

I went on a mission with my sister, who at the time was completely pissed off that my mom had denied her a parakeet, which left her completely willing to be an accomplice in any activity that would make my mom uncomfortable (it was still three months till I moved into my apartment, so snake living in her house would certainly qualify).  We journeyed to Appleton, which as everyone knows is the only place where anything can legally be purchased.  I surprised my sister at the Grand Chute Petco by actually following through and buying the drastically over-priced snake kit, which included the tank, a heating pad, a couple of accessories for the tank, but should have included snake tongs and plane tickets to Florida considering what I paid for it (This was before Craigslist and its magical powers entered its prime).  I think my sister had expected me to pussy out at the last minute, the putting down of cash on the table showed I was serious.  There were no Corn Snakes of my liking at that store, but the manager informed us that a bright orange specimen was available at the other Petco in Appleton, which I assumed was a mythological place since I had never been to that side of the city before.  However, 30 minutes of driving and two stops at gas stations later we found the other Petco, which was the most exciting find for me since I figured out how to beat Jurassic Park for Super Nintendo when I was 13.

And there he was, a cute little bugger covered in orange blotches, no more than 8 inches long.  I asked the Petco Employee to pull him from his enclosure.  The snake immediately curled around my hand and to my excitement decided not to bite me.  Having passed the test, I purchased him for the paltry sum of $37.99.  I took him in a cardboard box to a friend’s house, which was a wasted trip considering this friend, having apparently been sexually assaulted by a tiny snake in the past, refused to come out of her room.  I then took the little guy home (or girl, I never took the time suggested in the book to probe the cloaca for the presence of a hemipenes, and simply decided that “he” would be a male) and named him Clyde.  This was my sister’s suggestion and seemed like a good name for a cute snake.

This series of events took place in May of 2007, and Clyde has been a member of my home since then.  In April 2009, we decided to merge with Sandy and her cats to form the Lil’ Pets family.  While Clyde is certainly a full member, his leglessness has been discriminated against by our family, some freinds, and several freaked out landlords who apparently believe that snakes have the power to blind you like the Basilisk or something if they break free.  He has grown to a monstrous four feet in length, and regularly causes absolute terror while he hunts down his favored prey, frozen mice.  The presence of said mice has caused a spin-off issue, since people seem alarmed at their presence in our freezer.  I have yet to contract Bubonic Plague from the frozen mice, but I realize I am playing with fire.  Clyde is a loyal Lil’ Pet, and contrary to stereotypes about snakes has only attempted to bite one time in his four year tenure with me.  I realize that the presence of a snake makes some, including both Sandy’s and my mother, quite uneasy.  That’s OK, I can understand being petrified of a creature with teeth AT LEAST a millimeter long.

Clyde the Snake

There's Clyde!


I Want The Cute! You Can’t Handle The Cute!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy @ 8:09 pm

Stella being so cute that I nearly died....


Stella is our young kitten.  She is about two and a half years old and she’s absolutely the cutest thing that ever existed.  She has beautiful blue eyes and a very pretty pattern of grey and white (she is Siamese if you please… duh do da do).  She also loves to attach rugs.  No rug is safe from the ravages of Stella.  I’m not sure how or why the rugs are so impertinent that they need to be put in their place so savagely but …. as long as she’s on top of it.

Today I came home from working on homework at the library and noticed the rug was bunched up.  I went with my foot to move the rug back into place and realized there was a cat underneath it.  Apparently, after beating the rug into submission, it looked inviting to sleep under.  So she did.  A little while later she crawled out, sort of, and we snapped a few pictures.  Enjoy.

Sweet Stella