The love I have for animals often rivals that of the Crazy Cat Lady, so fond am I of the wee ickle beasties. When I was a small child–perhaps a bit older than Alex–I used to dress in my baby clothes, not dolls, but my kitten, Biscuit. Biscuit was as dumb as a box of rocks but had the wherewithal to occasionally protest in the form of some claw marks to my body. Why, I still have those scars today!
It appears as though her legacy lives on.
As a child, I regularly petitioned my parents to add to our happy home any number of small animals, and was nearly always denied.
But the moment that I moved out on my own (with The Daver), his love of animals amplified my own, and before either of us realized it, we’d built ourselves a menagerie of wee beasties.
After adopting two older cats (as the kittens are far more adoptable AND far more annoying than older cats) to add to our one cat home, we adopted an older dog. Then we adopted a geriatric gecko. For my birthday, I was gifted (at my own request) a hedgehog, and several weeks before Alex was born, we adopted an older rabbit. In my post-miscarriage haze, I foolishly agreed to a puppy, and I have wild plans for a future of salt water fish tanks. Multiple ones.
Although the many animals can be overwhelming and occasionally annoying, as at the moment that I’m typing this, I’m surrounded by two cats (who hate each other but love me so thoroughly that it doesn’t matter), my houseplant (read: dog) Cash, and Auggie (el puppy) is lounging nearby, I love it. Our house is full of love, light and complete chaos, but it works for us, unless we foolishly need to go out of town for something. Then we’re screwed.
Why am I waxing poetic about my animals, who have made me the official Mayor of Poo-Town?
Because, no matter how much I feel I love, and more importantly, care for my wee beasties, I’m starting to feel like it’s NOT ENOUGH.
It started innocently enough when we began to take Cash to the groomer at our local pet store. He’s the type of dog with a thick undercoat, so the minute the seasons change around here, the floors in my home begin to swirl with mountains of fluffy dog hair. And because I am completely lazy and don’t wish to clean my tub afterwards, I am happy to pay someone else to remove said fur.
Appointments were made, proof of current vaccinations were faxed and we showed up with Cash in tow.
Having adopted him as a 6 year old mutt from the pound, Dave and I looked at each other quizzically when asked what he was like when he was groomed. No idea whatsoever.
We dropped him off and went about our day.
I generously let Dave (read: insisted) that he go pick up the dog alone, and when he returned, he thrust a stack of papers into my hands (this is a fairly common occurrence in my home; I get handed stacks of papers constantly. Seriously). Among the receipts and the invoices, I noticed something strange.
At first, I was convinced I’d accidentally gotten some of Ben’s paperwork in my pile. But upon closer inspection, I realized that no, no in fact, this was from the groomer. The groomer had painstakingly filled out A REPORT CARD FOR MY DOG. Who was, according to this report that I totally wish I’d saved to show The Internet, a “great boy” who “loved to give kisses.”
I, being his owner, knew these things to be true and immediately felt sorry that the groomer had been required by his employer to fill this out. I mean, I don’t get daily report cards from BEN, who is in real SCHOOL.
But then I felt guilty laughing at the whole notion of an A++ doggie report card. Because I knew full well that if people hadn’t WANTED to know how their dog had behaved while out of their care, it wouldn’t exist.
(as a total aside, I would, of course, WANT to know if my dog had behaved badly. Biting, snarling, being a general asshole are things I WOULD have wanted to know, had this been the case)
Then, upon wandering around the pet store with my freshly cleaned, non-stinky, bandana-ed dog, several days later I realized why I’d been feeling so inadequate. While I was obviously a frequenter of the pet store, I’d been buying a stock supply of the bare necessities for my beasties and nothing more.
While my cats had proper food, it wasn’t the top of the line (read: $100 a bag), nor did they have any amount of themed toys or festive collars. I didn’t even own a jaunty cat carrier! Mine was a boring beige plastic!
My dogs had collars, of course, but not leather, or designer in the slightest. Cash had a Purple one, Auggie had a blue one. Neither had any embellishments or accessories attached. Hell, their leashes didn’t even match the collars! And forget about expensive soaps or treatments for my doggie’s sensitive skin! I had nothing of the sort. Nor did even my mini pooch have any clothes to wear! He was NAKED for all the world to see! AUGGIE’S WEENIS, EXPOSED TO THE WORLD!
My gecko did have a mini-Statue of Liberty in his cage, something I found particularly hilarious, but he seemed to ignore that in favor of the fake hunk of wood that he could hide behind. And forget about any real cage amenities for Robes Pierre (may he rest in peace), no, I used regular lizard sand.
No, I walked out of that store, having my eyes opened for the first time as to how much further I could push my animal obsession. And how much further other people did do so regularly. And with gusto.
It didn’t seem to matter to my guilt-ridden head how much MORE I did for animals that weren’t even my own. No matter how many cats I fostered only to find good homes for, no matter how many animals I adopted rather than purchased, no matter how many piles of puke I cleaned up only to find another three feet away, it would never compare to what I could do.
I sighed deeply and reminded myself that even though I can’t boast a designer animal, at least I don’t have SUCKER written on my forehead.
Besides, I don’t even buy fancy shampoo for myself.