If I am somehow forced to choose between saving the life of a single puppy and a bus full of kindergarteners, I’m going for the fluffy ball of adorableness every damn time (if you’re confused about which one is adorable, you’re reading the wrong blog). I suppose it’s possible that I’ll be sending the next Amy Poehler to her death, but odds are it’s just a busload of useless shits who are going to grow into an assload of awful fucks, so I’m not going to lose any hypothetical sleep over it. Surprisingly, the point I’m trying to make here is not that all people are terrible (they are and it should go without saying), it’s that I love animals, which have proven to be far more reliable and far less shitty than people (minus a few terrible species, lookin’ at you raccoons!). So while I may jest about some of the bizarre things people do with and to animals, I completely understand how attached we become to them, specifically the pets that we share our homes with.
|We love Giggy too, Lisa, and we promise not to say anything to him about his alopecia.|
Unfortunately, sometimes this compassion for animals can be twisted into something far more serious. There are quirks and then there are things that are just plain crazy. Now we have all faults of varying degrees of seriousness (Has Chloe's sentiment become my mantra as of late or what?), but today I’m going to share part one of a brief series focused on some of the ladies in my life who are all members of a developing trend that I find rather disturbing, the practice of forming attachments with feral creatures. It’s one thing to admire wildlife from afar, but it’s something completely different and more than slightly deranged to begin to think of those cute backyard critters as domesticated pets.
Case Study #1 - Mom
I love my mother, but she has a few idiosyncrasies that concern me, mostly because I can see myself developing them / have already begun to engage in some (Needlessly repeating myself as though everyone around me is incapable of listening/completely moronic? Thanx, Mom). Every member of my family has a different weird relationship with our dog, Lady, but my mother is the worst in terms of personification, which can most likely be attributed to spending the most time with Lady. She has extended these feelings to the other neighborhood dogs, all of whom she knows by name, despite not knowing the most basic information of their owners. She has been known to exclaim from the kitchen window, “Oh, here comes Daisy (the 5-year-old daschund mix)! I missed her on our walk this morning and she just loves those red cookies so much. I better run out and give one now or else she is going to turn her nose up at me tomorrow!”
|“Maybe Lizzie went off to Pemberley and she turned into this crazy person, like her mom, because our mothers are like time bombs. They just... They tick away inside of us.”|
She forms a different kind of bond with the neighborhood cats. She’ll gaze into the wooded backyard and identify one of her feline friends. She’ll then come up to me and say, in a hushed voice, “Paul, look! There’s Nona, bothering the finches again!” My nearby father will interject with, “That’s not her name,” causing my mom to scoff and say to me that Nona is just her little nickname for the cat and will then proceed to watch Nona for a minute, commenting on how nice her coat is, before calling Lady to come join her in cat watching.
Nona frequently comes to my parents’ backyard, hoping to catch one of the many birds at their numerous feeders. In addition to birds, there are also a number of squirrels who come, who would steal all the bird food before my parents began to put out additional food for them on the porch railing. Although, as I found out, the squirrels, or more specifically one squirrel each season, get additional special treatment from my mother. While visiting my parents one evening last fall, I went for a walk with my mother and Lady. We were down at the end of their street when my mom pulled out a plastic bag and started collecting something from a yard. At first I thought she was just cleaning up after Lady, but when she remained kneeling, I became confused and concerned.
PAUL: Mom, what are you doing?
MOM: Well, the squirrels love the nuts that fall from whatever tree this is, and I started off grabbing a few every time I went for a walk with Lady, but then I figured I should stock up while they’re still have, so I’ve been bringing an extra bag with me for them.
PAUL: Uh, are the owners of this house okay with you stealing their nuts?
MOM: I don’t actually know who lives here, but why would they care? They’re just nuts, Paul!
PAUL: I mean, don’t you think that it’d be a little weird for them to look outside to watch this stranger sitting in their yard filling a BAG with nuts?
MOM: I’m sure that they don’t mind. The momma squirrel really likes these nuts, Paul, she eats them right out of my hand, and she needs to fatten up before winter comes or else she’s going to freeze!
PAUL: Jesus, you’re hand feeding squirrels? You don’t know what kinds of diseases those things carry, Mom!
|Winter certainly is coming... sans adorably deadly direwolf puppies for me. This is feral animal husbandry I can get behind.|
Other questions that immediately came to mind, but were not asked include: “How did you discover the squirrels’ love of these nuts in the first place?” and “Have you completely lost your mind?” There are a lot of other questions to ask beyond the “momma squirrel’s” eating habits, but you’ll have to wait until I have had to chance to present all of my case studies. Check back next week for parts two and three of this startling exposé on the suburban practice of feral pet keeping.