People love their pets. Of that there can be no doubt. And why not? Pets don’t criticize us; they give us unconditional love, uncomplicated companionship. They are dependent on us but usually not needy. Am I right? And they can be so darned cute – hence the proliferation of cat videos on the Internet. Even those of us allergic to the little beggars can get their animal fix at the click of a button.
Pets also make us feel good – hence we have visiting dogs at nursing homes – the presence of an animal seems to actually stimulate the production of brain chemicals and bodily hormones that improve our moods, calm our emotions and even promote healing.
People go to great lengths to keep their pets. Where I’m staying right now, there is a three legged dog, the happy survivor of cancer surgery. And why not? Diogenes, as his name implies, is a remarkably clever and pleasant animal. A good dog. There is also a dog on a diet who will eat anything in sight and beg for more. Jocko is an annoying little pest who gets in no end of trouble. The only reason he’s still alive is that the little ragamuffin is unbearably cute with the softest brown eyes. Evolution works in mysterious ways.
For all that, there can be people who take this love of pets to an extreme. Cat lady stories abound. They are a clichéd joke at times. All very funny until she is found dead with the pets nibbling at her bones to survive.
Then there is the woman – a growing legend in this neighbourhood – who was so attached to her old cat that she froze it when it died so she could give it a proper funeral when she had more time. You see, her father had died at the same time and had to be buried. Either she didn’t have a big enough freezer or the authorities intervened. In any case, the cat has now been in the freezer for several months and she refuses to actually dispose of it. It wouldn’t matter except she lent the cottage to friends who are understandably reluctant to store their food next to a dead cat. When asked to deal with the matter she smiles politely and declines. Cat love can be a terrible thing when it all goes wrong.
As for me, I have a cat I keep in a box, wondering if it is dead or alive. Fortunately it is neither, just a brilliant executive decision maker that I received for Christmas one year.
But that’s ten minutes.