Monday, March 30, 2009

Pets of the weird variety

Pets have been a hot topic around the homestead lately, with much debate centering on bringing more animals into the fold.
We have a cat, a newt named Noodle, and a dog has recently been added, but some of the other creatures on the ‘can-we-get’ list are simply not going to happen.
For a while Junior wanted to get a weasel. No, not a pet politician, but an actual long-bodied, furry, supposed-to-be-a-forest-dwelling-beast member of the rodent family.
“But dad, they are sooo cool.”
“But son, we are sooo not going to get one.”
What good is a pet weasel? They are too much like a rat with soft fur. They are not cuddly, they do not eat mice - I don’t think they do anyway - and they will not guard the home from intruders.
Some friends of ours got a puppy last year (thanks a lot guys) and that ramped up the pressure on us to get a dog which is a battle that has been won by the supporters of said mutt. But our friends have also been delving into the world of exotics, which is some where we will never go.
When their oldest turned 15, his aunt kicked in some cash for him to buy a tarantula. Needless to say his mom was thrilled at the thoughtfulness of her sister.
I am sorry folks, but a big, fuzzy, scary ass spider is not my idea of the perfect family pet.
I would rather cuddle with a weasel, or a worm, or road kill.
Their son thought this was the coolest thing going, until one day when he was feeding it a live cricket and it lunged at him.
He jumped about five feet in the air and now treats the tarantula like the mini-monster it is. I saw the multi-legged beast the last time we visited them.
Just looking at the gigantic arachnid gave me a case of the willies, but when they took the top of the cage off and gently pushed his fuzzy butt with a chopstick to get it to move, I was ready to bolt out of the room like I was on fire.
The creature did move a little and that was enough for me.
“Wow that is really cool. Hey, I have an idea, let’s put the top of the cage back on and then let’s put a 10-pound weight on top of the lid and then let’s get the heck out of here and never, ever do that again. Who’s with me?”
I am a million times bigger than he was, but I guarantee I was more afraid of him than he was of me.
You hear that a lot when it comes to animals.
“Look, a grizzly. It’s OK, he’s more afraid of us than we are of him.”
I wouldn’t bet on it.
I doubt the bear is thinking, “Look, it’s a Darren, am I ever scared.”
Having escaped from the gigantic insect of doom, the fun and games at our friend’s house continued, however the next pet in the miniature zoo they are building was not nearly as creepy.
Their youngest son got a lizard for his birthday.
Again, not exactly the definition of cute and cuddly, but at least this thing does not have venom oozing from its pointed fangs of death.
He asked my son if he wanted to see his new skink, however my son heard a different word and wondered why (and how) his buddy came to own a pet skank.
Being a teenager, I am sure he was wondering just how he could get one himself.
Following a surprised look and a query of, “Uhhh, what did you just say?” the type of lizard was annunciated more clearly.
“Oh,” said Junior. “That makes much more sense.”
Thankfully, none of my kids were interested in getting a giant spider, a lizard or a skank for that matter.
They did want a snake for a while, and I was OK with that, but was quickly overruled by a much higher authority.
My wife has an aversion to snakes and muttered something about me sleeping in the garage with the snake. Personally, I think snakes are pretty cool.
The dad of a childhood friend of mine had a thing for bizarre pets. He owned a sheepdog and a Siamese cat – wait for it I am getting to the weird part – along with two iguanas, several turtles, a boa constrictor and, for about a year, he had a crocodile living in a pond he built in the living room.
The croc was shipped out to a zoo when it got big enough to climb out of its pond and was looking at the cat as a meal to go.
One entire wall was dedicated to the creatures, with an upper and lower pond, a small creek and several large glass enclosures for the reptile members of the family.
I loved visiting that place. We would often take out the boa and wear it like, well, like a boa. Not many kids could say they were taking their snake out for some fresh air.
His mom had one Tupperware party, but when a green snake that managed to get out of its enclosure slithered across the room, the party was over.
Too bad, the ladies did not know the fun they were missing out on.

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