Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Meet Skinner and Eli

We often hear, “Pets are people, too!” Are pets part of your family? Do you have a dog, a cat (or two), an iguana or something even more exotic that shares your home? What do you do with your pets when you have company? Do you let the Chihuahua corner and intimidate Uncle Charlie or do you put him in the garage when you have company (the Chihuahua, not Uncle Charlie!)? Does your cat run for cover when the doorbell rings or is she curious about who’s coming to dinner, sidling up to whoever gets in the door first?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with our furry and other non-human family members when other folks are in the house. I do think we need to be sensitive to visitors and at least keep Rover from jumping on guests to welcome them. Even more importantly, a lot of folks are allergic to animals (especially cats) and can be miserable if Fluffy hangs around their feet (my husband, for example).

We know that pets are truly a huge part of many families and they can be like extra kids. Pets have been a blessing to so many with disabilities. And they can be great company for someone who lives alone. Yes, people love their pets. I respect that. In fact, I wish I were more like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and my family loves animals – when they belong to someone else...and are at a comfortable distance away from said people. Actually, we had collies in the past and loved them. They were outside dogs when we lived on the farm and if I were to live in the country again, I’d definitely want another dog – outside.

Not long after we moved to Orrville, Ken’s parents visited and his dad bought Matthew a bird. Then we heard we needed to buy another bird to keep the first one company. Go figure. We did that and bought toys and oh, I don’t even remember what all we did. What I do remember, is that one day I found them, not many days' hence, feet up, in their cage. We decided birds weren’t our thing.

When Matthew was still very young, we had small fish. The day I found Matthew holding one of the fish and petting it, I decided fish probably wouldn't make it long at our house, either. I was right.

We needed a dog, I decided. So, at different times we tried adorable puppies. We bought a darling Boston terrier that, would truly make coffee nervous. Matthew named her Sparx and honestly, the sweet little thing seemed to leap vertically from a still position. Something with that much energy just perplexes me, I guess. She even had too much energy for Matthew, so with his blessing, we gave her to Ken’s parents.

A couple of years later, we bought a gorgeous yellow Labrador puppy that Matthew named Ginger. I understand how we fell in love with Ginger, but how we thought we could manage a fully-grown, huge, yellow Lab in our house is beyond me. We never found out. While still a puppy, Ginger made it at our house until she started chewing on the door frames. And then it was decided: Ginger could not stay. So, once again we found another carefully chosen home for our extra offspring.

During that time, we realized that Matthew wasn’t a pet person, either. As Ken and I watched Matthew play with both dogs, we saw that although he enjoyed them, he literally held them at arm’s length. Apparently his preference to enjoy other peoples' pets was inherited. And like us, he enjoys them most outside.

So, just like it took me decades to admit to myself I am not a morning person, it has taken me almost as long to realize that I am not a pet person. There, I said it. I'm not a pet person. I’m sad about that, but Ken and I have learned that the four legged furry critters just aren’t for us - at least not inside. And now, we know Matthew is the same way. If the girl who captures his heart is a pet-lover, she’ll need to start early to recondition his avoidance tendencies....

We did have a great experience with a couple of ant farms. With the exception of waiting months - literally - for the ants to be delivered in the arctic areas of northeast Ohio, the experience was a very positive one. But then, they were contained in the plastic tubing, come to think of it.

So, we were a little surprised when Matthew saw a small aquarium with frogs a couple of months ago and indicated he thought it would be fun addition for his college dorm room. So, Ken and I ventured back to Brookstone to purchase a ‘Frog-o-sphere’ from 'Santa'. We fed the little dudes and watched them frolic and play (well, as much as aquatic frogs frolic). Matthew was thrilled with his little charges and enjoyed them while he was home for break.

And then it was time for him - for all of them - Matthew and his frogs - to return to college. Well, no one was more surprised than yours truly that I’d be sad to see the little fellers go. But alas, Skinner and Eli, as Matthew named them, did leave to return to college with him. I do miss the little things. But I still don’t want to pet them.


Janet Carsten said...

Frogs - what a great idea. Nate & Jace find plenty in the pool and save their lives. I am definitely a pet person. We have a big, white lab that sheds all over the house and has eaten numerous door casings, dug holes in drywall and carpet, and puts her wet nose all over us. Thank goodness she's out of the "chewing phase" and keeps me company while the boys are at school. I think both boys have inherited my love for furry creatures. ;)

Vanessa said...

And that's one of the characteristics I've always admired most about you! I wish I were more like that. :)