Friday, May 8, 2009

The bestial truth

I used to be an animal lover. I suppose I still am, to a degree. But that degree is shrinking.

I’ve already written about the cat here and here. You know he’s old, cantankerous, demanding, and high-maintenance. I’ve expressed my fears to many that instead of aging further, the cat appears to have reached a plateau of sorts and is now maintaining and/or perhaps even growing younger—thus ensuring his [annoying] presence with us for years to come.

Yeah, that sounds mean. But listen. He’s awful. Last night, I wasn’t feeling well and I went to bed at a reasonable time, falling into bed with relief, anticipating the hours of much-needed healing rest that awaited me. Do you know how many times that *!#? cat woke me? Three. That’s right, three. First because I heard the telltale double thumps, separated by a sliding sound. (Said combination of noises indicates that the horrid beast has attempted to jump on the dining room table, and careened off the edge.) And then, the second and third wakeful occasions? I woke with a start to the critch, crunch sound of the fool beast chomping on polyester sheer curtains. Two separate sets of ‘em. Isn’t that ridiculous? This is the same cat who chews on dryer sheets, then throws up. He likes to chew the ribbons on a pair of my shoes, too. It’s quite a trip, except it really peeves me beyond belief. At this point in our relationship, that pesky feline has used up all my tolerance to his idiosyncrasies (there’s a reason that word begins with the same letters as the word “idiot”).

I’m running out of patience, I’m telling you.

And the neighborhood dogs. I thought I loved dogs, I really did. I was wrong. I only love some dogs. There is a growing number of them that I abhor. The neighbor’s dog, for instance, who announces each street activity with sharp, throaty-then-shrill barks. It doesn’t matter what the activity, that stupid dog punctuates every single one of them with his repeated vocal disturbances. He can see us when we’re in our back yard, and guess what? We’re terribly exciting. Bark, bark. Bark. And he must come out pretty early each morning, like most dogs do, because that’s the sound that awakens us on many occasions.

His early-morning concerts encourage all the other neighborhood dogs to join the chorus: Oh, hey, Yippy’s over there barking! There must be something happening! What, a car drove by? Oh, by all means bark! Bark more! We’ve never seen a car go by! And now, someone else is coming out his door to get the paper? Bark, bark bark! This is unbelievable! Wake the village!!! It’s our duty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In defense of dogs, I know they are only doing what dogs do. I realize that many dogs are sweet and lovable. I’m certain, too, even the dogs that torment me are sweet and lovable sometimes. I just don’t get to enjoy that part of them. I am only exposed to the canine discordance of suburbia. And it’s getting old.

I keep reminding myself of the dogs I’ve known and adored, of the cool dogs across the street from us who have very little to say and who look mildly perplexed when their counterparts lose control over and over again. And I’ve seen and read amazing stories of dogs that saved their owners, or other dogs, or performed incredible feats that made the people around them gasp. I’ve seen brave dogs that walk on only two back feet, or two feet on the same side. There are some really great dogs out there, dogs that help blind and handicapped people, that really care—dogs that are, in short, actually better at being human than some humans. That helps me get past the barking.

And why is my cat so obnoxious? Probably because he doesn’t get enough attention. Would he have so much ornery energy at 4am if I played with him daily? Unlikely. Has he brought me much joy in his [ridiculously long] life? Yes.

So where is this going? I guess I love the idea of pets. And I love some pets. I must love my own, since I haven’t left him anywhere yet. Still, when the cat goes where all cats go in the end, there’s gonna be a serious animal hiatus at this house. The chipmunks and the birds will have to fill the bill for a while.


chris h. said...

You know, I have had this same conversation with myself lately. Too many 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. wake-up calls demanding food, too much puke, too many marauded houseplants... Some days, that "hiatus" you mention sounds pretty darn good. (Other days, the cuteness factor overwhelms me.) Time will tell, I suppose.

Mel said...

as soon as I posted this one, I was overwhelmed with guilt, thinking of all the great pets in the world and remembering how my cat brought me through some pretty tough times when he was younger. but I do seriously plan on that hiatus. I guess I'll need one, anyway--not good to rush into the next pet, right? they are cute, and cuddly, and sweet, and pukey, and whiny, and all the rest. : )

Kathleen Cahalan said...

And then there's silly me: watching numerous videos of oh-so-fluffy kittens on YouTube just to get a bit of a feline fix. My dear Gala passed many years ago, and though I miss her terribly, a rather serious allergy prevents me from adopting again. When the both of you have reached that eventual hiatus, I'll be happy to point you to the best vids on YouTube that'll get you by.