Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Pets

I've found it somewhat annoying that Dorine and I accumulate pets, not by choice, but by default when our kids have left home.  It's sad, in a way, that the pets we've been landed with don't get as much love as other people might give them, although we certainly don't abuse them.  At this writing, we have three pets: (1) an old gray cat named "Baloo"; (2) Darren's old leopard gecko "Gekker"; and (3) Kiley's (and Heidi's before her) miniature pinscher "Mischa" (or "Meisha," as Kiley prefers to spell it).  Baloo, who must be about fifteen years old now, is clearly on his last legs.  Once a fierce fighter (and adventurous -- we had to bail him out of Animal Control multiple times when he was younger after neighbors, who evidently objected to his killing doves and pigeons in their yard, trapped him and delivered him to the pound), he never leaves the yard now and is constantly hungry.  We've doubled his allotment of "soft" cat food to a full can -- two servings -- a day (in addition to the dry food that he now only eats when he has no alternative), but he simply never gets full.  The fact that he's become thin and extremely scraggly suggests either that his digestive system isn't working properly (meaning he just poops his food right out before he can absorb much in the way of nutrients) or that he's hyperthyroidic (meaning his metabolism is running at warp speed despite his recent indolence).  If I were my sister Kristen, I'd have long ago taken Baloo to the veterinarian and would be spending hundreds of dollars on medication for him.  But, alas, I'm not Kristen, and whereas we're willing to spend a little more on food to try to assuage Baloo's hunger, there's no way we'd consider incurring big vet bills and medication costs to attempt to improve his health or extend his life.  

I can't remember when Darren got Gekker, but I'm sure it was at least 11-12 years ago.  Dorine had initially understood that leopard geckos have a lifespan of 2-3 years, which was probably all we could reasonably expect Darren to care about him; however, it wasn't much later that Dorine found out that leopard geckos can live upwards of twenty years.  We have a "cricket account" with a local pet store, and crickets seem to provide a healthy diet for Gekker; anyway, he's still going strong.  (At one time we had two other leopard geckos, Zoey and Spot, but I can't even recall what happened to them; I assume we gave them away.)

Mischa (see photo) is probably the most exasperating of our pets, as she, if left alone inside to roam around, will invariably upset all the trash receptacles in the house to get at anything that smells remotely like food (and you'd be disgusted to know what she thinks smells like food).  She would be fat as could be if she were allowed to eat as much as she craves, which is why she generally gets only limited quantities of dry, weight-control dog food.  She's a smart little thing, however, and she clearly recognizes me as the "alpha dog" of the house -- for one thing, she loves to sneak out the front door and go explore the neighborhood, and my going out and yelling at her is the only thing that makes her see the wisdom of coming back immediately; and for another, she laps up any affection or attention I pay to her (which she hardly ever gets from me at this juncture, mostly because I feel like I have to go wash my hands after touching her).

I shake my head when I see how many people treat their pets like children, largely because they can't be bothered to have actual children, and thus their pets take on the role of surrogates.  I much prefer children and grandchildren to pets, however, and I look forward to the day when we no longer have any of the latter (and we can't be saddled with the ones that our kids no longer want).