Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Animal Talk

There are cat lovers and there are dog lovers.
I know some people who are cat people - they have no patience for the slobbering, unabashed affection, and eternal enthusiasm of dogs. They prefer the aloofness, the royal carriage, and the prim and proper demeanor of cats. On the other hand, I know a lot of dog people, the kind who prefer the perky, loyal, frisky, and the action that dogs provide.

I am both. I have a cat and a dog. My current dog is a huge black labrador named Altus. Don't ask why that is his name - when I got him he was already "baptized" and registered. Fluffy the cat is a white pusakal (pusang kalye). I really do not know what her original name is - she moved into my old house and decided to adopt all of us. Fluffy was the name given to her by a friend of mine.

If there is any doubt about the distinctiveness of the characteristics and traits of cats and dogs, they are obliterated beyond doubt by Altus and Fluffy.

Fluffy thinks she is the owner of the house. She decides when she wants to be petted and any space she occupies is her space. In the last week, she has sequestered a place on top of an antique table as hers - that is where she takes her naps. Naturally, we had to move all the buddha figures and the photographs that used to own the spot. We have tried moving Fluffy to other more comfortable places like the sofa or another chair, but our insistence has only yielded a broken picture frame that she simply dislodged from her chosen perch. No use arguing with the owner of the house - the cat rules.

Altus on the other hand demands attention and when not given, he is liable to display all the classic signs of ADHD. He has this penchant for hugging people - and he can hold on tightly in a hug using his front paws anyone he takes a fancy to. We have run into some scary situations because of his unbridled "enthusiasm." He does not bite and is generally genial - but his size betrays his intentions, people generally fear him. Once, he was being walked on the street when a tricycle came by. The foolish driver lost control of his tricycle when Altus playfully lunged at it. Tricycle, driver and passengers all turned turtle. It could have been a comical sight and we would have been in stitches had the passengers seen it in the same light. Unfortunately, they thought the dog was about to devour them. You can guess what happened next.

I just love animals. There was a time when I had less responsibility and clutter. Thus, there was ample space for all kinds of pets in the house and in my life. I had a boxer dog (named Nicole - a really nice tempered, loving, obedient dog - I really really miss that dog! When she died due to old age, I bawled like a baby. Until now, I still can not bear to have another boxer dog as I can’t help but feel that having another boxer dog would be a sign of disloyalty to her).

I also had about fifty (yes, that many) hamsters. I started with two. Hamsters are prolific breeders - they give birth to a litter every 16 days! After a while, I had to separate the males and the females for the sake of domestic peace (both the hamsters' and mine). I had an aquarium (always had one - I have two now, three actually including the pond outside that contains koi). I also had a cage of parakeets, including one who strangely was so docile, we could set it free inside the house and it would simply perch on tables and cabinets. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, this bird soon discovered the true value of freedom and pursued it.
I also had some green turtles in a fish bowl. They were given as gifts. Sadly, I wasn’t really knowledgeable about the proper care of turtles - either the water level of the bowl was too shallow or deep, or the temperature too hot. Whatever.

There too was a crawfish also known as a lobster. That one did not end up in the frying pan though. I guess crawfishes really have short life spans.

I was tempted to get a tarantula and a snake, but my partner at the time thought that was where the line was to be drawn. And maybe it was just as well - I eventually moved to a new job that required too much time and attention I had to give up some of the pets and give them away to people with more time on their hands.
As I write this, Fluffy the cat is scratching on the door of my room probably telling me to stop embarrassing her. Why I am writing this? I have no idea. Just thought about pets today, that's all.

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