I don’t have kids. I have a dog and a cat. And I should probably never have kids if my parenting skills were judged on my animal raising abilities.
The dog, Bailey, is the poster child for those bawl your eyes out commercials of adorable but sad puppies in shelters. Never mind the fact that Bailey is overweight and has cushy beds in every room of the house. According to the looks she gives me, I should be arrested and featured on “Animal Cops”. Around 5:15 every day you would assume she was starving to death because I NEVER feed her. She will lie down and look up at me with these big brown eyes that are just dripping with sadness. Little whimpers of desperation escape her as she withers away before me. She barely survives from one meal to the next. When the longest fifteen minutes of her life have passed (dinner is at 5:30), she comes to life and skips into the kitchen after me (if dogs could skip…). She alternates between jumping and barking as I fix her a big bowl of life saving food. Her eyes are filled with excitement over a bowl of dry crunchy dog food. And suddenly all is right with the world (until 7:30 anyway, that is her nightly Greenie time and we go through this whole ordeal again).
Bailey is also a tormented pup. She is a very submissive dog which I apparently take advantage of through various forms of abuse. This abuse ranges from Halloween costumes (it was for a free day at doggie daycare) and bows around her neck. I have even put a blanket over her head to test her canine IQ (the faster they manage to get out from under the blanket the higher their IQ). Whenever I do anything to her, she hangs her head and slinks down to the ground. Then she lets out a heavy sigh of resignation and just lays there. I think she believes that if she stays there motionless for long enough I will leave her alone. I guess this means her IQ is either in the negative numbers or off the charts because she is smart enough not to play my silly games.
But Bailey is not the only one whose life I have in my hands…there is also Phoebe the cat. Phoebe came to me as a stray that was too young to feed herself. I had to bottle feed and then wean her. I essentially saved her life and she understands that. I know this because whenever I leave the house she thinks I have left her for dead. I am her only hope for survival. In order to escape the loneliness she will gnaw on her tail like a fox chewing through its tail to escape the trap. I can typically leave her for a weekend but anything longer requires supervision.
I recently returned from being away for two nights. Phoebe greeted me at the door waving her bloody stump of a tail in excitement. And because she had run her tail against the walls, my house looked like a Barbie-sized crime scene. I was hoping Horatio Ken did not appear to try to arrest me in Miami Barbie CSI’s pink Hummer. Phoebe ended up losing part of her tail and is now on kitty Prozac that I rub on her ears each night. Hint: when the pharmacist tells you that you must wear latex gloves when applying the medicine to make sure that none enters your bloodstream; don’t say “Do I have too???”
Truth is I love my wild animals. They make my life more fulfilling and I can’t imagine life without a little zoo in it. There are definitely some days that make me question my caretaking abilities. Bailey and Phoebe may be a little neurotic, but we are a little family. I would imagine that parents feel the same way, not always sure of what they are doing but offer lots of love and support. Maybe I wouldn’t be such a bad parent after all.