By Judy Reiss
For me, pets only mean three things. And the three are, of course, dogs, cats and birds. And if you wonder why, it is because those are the three type of pets that we have had over the years. Of course I am not counting the Guinea pigs or other such rodents because they were always at our house for a very short time. I know that some of my children brought home a gerbil for us to care for during a holiday break and I vividly remember the shrieking when a parakeet that we had worked her way out of her cage and one of our cats snatched it, wounded it and then leaped at the gerbil’s cage, banged open the door and as I arrived I saw the tail of the gerbil as it slid down her throat. Nope, rodents of almost any type are difficult for us to care for and love. Give me a furry or feathery pet and I promise you I will be loving and gracious!
I am always shocked when I hear about someone who keeps a snake, a lion, a tiger, a wolf, an alligator or any other “pet” that can either eat you or at least, eat one of your limbs off! I know that someone will mention to me how dangerous a pit bull dog is and I happen to agree. But if you have a pit bull you at least know their reputation and I would assume know how to parent it so it doesn’t have the opportunity to savage any other dog or a 3-year-old!
So here is my personal rule and when I say personal, it means that I don’t want to interact with any of these “pets” nor do I want them to visit me or mine. Mice, rats, snakes of any size, lions, tigers, raccoons or any other wild animal that belongs to remain wild and not kept captive in a little wire cage. I know that there are lot of animals that I have forgotten so the rule probably is no pets that aren’t in the three groups of dogs, cats or birds.
I will tell you that as a very little girl I found a hairless baby squirrel that had fallen out of its nest. And with the help of my parents, weaned it for months until it appeared to be fully grown. Then we donated him to a children’s petting zoo in New Jersey. I still remember how devastated I was to leave him there! But wild is wild and I suppose he had a better life there. Bad for me, good for him.
However, what I really wanted to tell you about was a friend and her amazing relationship with her chickens. Because I don’t want to embarrass her in print, I will call her Sarah. Now, Sarah has, at least a dozen hens. These hens live in a wonderful hen house. They also have a lovely chicken yard to browse around in. Well, during the winter or whenever Sarah thinks it appropriate, she puts little coats on them that are actually called aprons. They not only keep them warm, but they also protect them during the molting season. Well, one day she walked over to the chicken house and saw one of her little “children” lying in the yard and covered with blood. Of course, she immediately ran into the yard and picked her up and found that her injuries were all over her back and it appeared that a young hawk had tried to pick her up. But it also appeared that she was too heavy so all he did was scratch and claw her and then left her for dead.
So Sarah picked her up and took her inside the house and cleaned her up and of course, put one of her coats on her and placed her in a little homemade nest in the kitchen. Now the good news is she began to heal and it appeared she would recover and be able to join her sisters in their house. But, and there is always a but, she began to join the family a great deal of the day. However, Sarah’s husband put his foot down when she tried to join him in the bathroom in any capacity. If he was using the toilet he didn’t want her to cuddle right up next to him. And when showering, she was made to go into the other family rooms. When Sarah showered however, she would allow the now recovering chicken to join her. And she preferred to shower just a bit under the less strong spray but if it was just a little shower, and she loved it!
You and I both know that this can’t go on forever. Although I am not quite sure if she has joined her chicken sisters out in their house or not. I only heard about her recovering last week and at that time she was still in the house. And although I found it strange, I immediately remembered the ducks and chickens that wintered in our dirt basement a number of years ago. Nothing as strange as a chicken that joined the family group happened to us, but when spring came, my entire basement turned into a cornfield! I would have thought that those guests would have eaten more corn than they did.
I hope you all have pets and pets that interact with you and your family. Right now, we have two dogs, a 4-year-old standard poodle and a 14-year-old Yorkie that is blind and deaf. However, we have never told her about her disabilities and she doesn’t appear to know. We also have two elder Siamese gentlemen who really do interact with every one, including guests, whether they like cats or not! We used to have a Cockatoo but she passed away a number of years ago and we were both devastated. We decided not to get another big bird, not because we didn’t want one, but we decided that they live for up to 100 years old and we were just too old!
If you have a pet, love and cuddle it every day and if you don’t have one, get one. It will be the best friend you ever had!