I have a bad habit of laughing at things that some people might not find so funny. Or maybe more like, I laugh at stuff that most people DO find funny but have the good sense not to laugh about openly because it’s inappropriate. Yeah, that’s more like it. Consider this opening statement to be your warning.
I come from a family of savages. We’re not what you'd call animal lovers. This isn’t to say that we hate them, or that we’d ever be cruel or abusive to them (consider THAT your disclaimer). We’re just not “those” kinds of people. The kind that buy Halloween costumes for dogs, share a warm cup of milk with a cat, or hang Christmas stockings for pet goldfish. You get the idea, right? Good.
When it comes to animals, of course we think they’re cute and furry and cuddly. The biggest difference between “those” people and us is that we don’t get very attached to our animals. For me, at this point in my life, I'm not interested in having anything else around that eats or poops. Add in crotch-sniffing and feet-licking and I REALLY lose interest. All of this could have something to do with the fact that, for many years, my dad was in the business of racing and training greyhound dogs. I just think that pets are nice for other people. I enjoy visiting other people's pets, until they start the sniffing and licking business (the pets, not the people).
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re one of those pet lovers and hearing of animal suffering of any kind is going to make you vomit or pass out or hate me, then you really should stop reading here. Back to my story…
So our dad raced and trained greyhound dogs. He was never abusive to them, as far as I can remember. They were always well cared for; clean, fed, let outside several times a day, yadda yadda yadda. Here’s the rub: At some point, as with all animals, their health would deteriorate. They’d become ill, sometimes with illness that was not treatable and could potentially spread through the kennel to other animals. So, dad did what any compassionate dog owner would do in that situation. He took them out to the desert, shot them in the head, and buried them. You think that’s horrible, don’t you? Just wait. There’s more.
We lived out in the country on several acres of land. Dad built a make-shift track on which to train the dogs for their real races. And everyone knows that if you want the dog to chase the little lure around the track, the best way to make that happen is to use live bait. He’d buy a crate of five or six little bunnies. Happy, furry, cute, soft, BREATHING little bunnies. When it was time for them to do what they were born to do (die in the name of racing and excessive gambling), he’d take one out of its cozy little crate, whack its head against the side of a steel bar to knock it out, and hang it on the lure to eventually be devoured by a very ambitious—and hungry—greyhound.
Hey, don’t even start with me. I TOLD you to quit reading way back there.
So knowing what I’ve told you thus far (I’m stopping there for fear of legal ramifications), is it any wonder my siblings and I don’t let ourselves bond with animals? It’s an emotional defense mechanism. With all of the canine killing and bunny bludgeoning that went on around us, it’s incredible to me that at least one of us didn’t end up a serial killer.
I got to thinking about my attitude towards animals recently when a friend of mine, we’ll call her Liz (because that’s her name) had a rather traumatic experience involving two of her pets. And yes, I laughed about it. It seems that on Christmas morning, she and her children awoke to find that their cat had made a holiday meal out of their pet bird. Did I mention I laughed about this? I couldn’t help it. I apologized to her for laughing, but then proceeded to make more jokes about it. Defense mechanism, remember? In the process of having her pain mocked by me, she opened up about other pet-related catastrophes in her lifetime, which made me laugh even harder. I’m going to hell, I know it. In case you’re someone like me who laughs at things you shouldn’t, I’ll share her experiences for the sheer entertainment value.
There was the time she opened (or closed, I can’t remember, but it’s not important here) her garage door, only to discover she had hung her cat in the process. You’re right, it’s not funny. But yes it is. Then there was the time that her cute little birdie was chasing a relative down the hall and the relative—out of fear for his/her own safety—ran into a bedroom and slammed the door. Can you guess what happened? Turns out birds don’t make very good door stops.
All of this is so amusing to me because I thought I had the worst luck with pets. But I think Liz may carry more of a curse than I do. Or, we may be neck and neck. Take, for example, the time my grandma, much to my mother’s dismay, gave me a cute little baby chick for a pet. I was around age five at the time, I think. That stupid chicken would run all over the house. I had no idea at the time how much that just annoyed the snot out of my mother. One time, as it ran through the kitchen and mom was at the sink doing dishes, she took a step back and, CRUNCH, injured chick. I was not very happy with mom about this. I think mom was just plain not very happy that the injuries were only superficial. But don’t judge her. I can’t say for sure. I was insistent that, as part of her penance for so carelessly stepping on my feathered BFF, she do round-the-clock nursing and let the thing sleep in her bed. Being the good mom that she was and is, she agreed to this arrangement. The bird was dead by morning. When you’re a heavy sleeper and you roll over on a chicken in the night, you tend not to notice.
Is it wrong that I’m snickering as I write this?
Wanna hear about my cute little yellow lab puppy who died the first night I had him because he drank his tick bath water? Probably not. Or maybe my cat, Edwin who liked to crawl up in the car engine to keep warm on cold mornings? I didn’t think so.
That’s enough storytelling for today. Even I’m getting depressed.