Wednesday, June 15, 2005

No Phone, No Pool, No Pets.

That’s from the Roger Miller classic, “King of the Road.” You knew that, though. Right?

What brought that to mind? I was browsing several of my blogroll blogs and noticed a number of posts about pets and other animals. (Yes, there IS a point to this. You’ll get there eventually.)

(DISCLAIMER: I love animals! I would swerve my car off the road to avoid hitting a lowly skunk or raccoon if I thought I could do so without serious injury to myself or strike damage to the car.)

We used to have pets. In fact, for most of my life I’ve had pets. When I was growing up we always had at least a dog and a cat at our house. Sometimes there were two cats and a dog. Seldom more than that.

Like many some people, I bawled like a baby when a pet died. I had just lost a very close friend.

Those early experiences with pets satisfied my craving for canine or feline fellowship. Well, let me rephrase that. Based on my childhood experiences, one (or maybe two) pet(s) was “normal” for me, and enough. My sister, like Mick Jagger, “got no satisfaction” along those lines. In senior adulthood, her “norm” has become from 3 to maybe 6 dogs, and cats whose number seems like the biblical sand on the seashore.

Maybe, “cats without number” would be closer to the truth, because the actual number could never be determined. She’s had cats in the chimney, cats in the heat and air conditioning ducts, cats in every room in the (huge) house she owns, cats all over the furniture, cats underfoot… you get the idea.

When I first married Carol we adopted a kitten. We named her “Ginny” because she was from Virginia. As the years passed and children came along, we acquired a dog, then another dog, and then another cat.

At that point I drew the line. No More Pets.

Our children became young adults and went off to college. We ended up with three dogs and no cats. Then one dog (Christina’s) died, essentially of old age. (Brought on by “the tyranny of time,” a quote I love from a poem by one of my blogging friends. Anybody recognize it?) I bawled, but Carol was stoic.

Not long after that, Carol’s all-time favorite pet, an English bulldog named “Marshmallow,” drowned one evening in our backyard pool. We bawled together in each other’s arms.

At that point we were down to one little miniature Dachshund we’d named “Wiener Schnitzel.” Since she was so short, we shortened her name to “Weenie.” It fit. By now the daughters were married and gone. It was just the two of us and Weenie.

The pool developed major problems and we had it filled in. (It’s now a lovely landscaped area adjacent to our back patio. You should stop by and see it sometime.)

Then Weenie began suffering the ravages of old age, and finally she also went to that great kennel in the sky. We both bawled again.

Not long after that we realized a great truth. Like many in this country we had been caught up in the debate concerning abortion; with a division of opinion between a woman’s right to choose, and a viable fetus’ right to life. One burning question that the medical experts and the philosophers wrangled over was, “When does life truly begin.”

One day we read the answer in the newspaper, and realized from our experiences that it was correct.

Life truly begins when the last child has left home and the last dog dies.

(Before you get angry, re-read the disclaimer at the top!)

We still have a phone—for now—but I’m mightily tempted to disconnect it and fulfill Mr. Miller’s song lyric.

12 comments:

Karyn Lyndon said...

My daughter is extremely alergic to cats and dogs so we've only had an occasional goldfish. I've missed having a friendly companion to love, but not the mess, destruction and expense.

Hale McKay said...

(Sigh) You have inspired (shamed?) me into putting together a tribute to the critters we have had and lost over the years. There are probably as many as there are years. Perhaps I can assign a song for each one of them.
And much thanks for the kind references to my song quiz. I guess the challenge is to do another with different titles. So many blogs to write .. so little time.

schnoodlepooh said...

You are TOO FUNNY! That was a very cute and cleverly written post. Being an extreme animal lover, I was getting ready to get all mad at you until I got to the end. Very cute! I hope though, that I am with animals until I die. I love them more than I love people (call me weird, I admit it)

Candace said...

Tom and I got our first dog a couple of years after we got married. We do not have children. I cannot imagine life without a dog now, any more than I can imagine life without Tom!

Duke_of_Earle said...

Candace: Yeah, I hope people realize that "Life begins" stuff is supposed to be a joke, aimed at couples who finally, after years of responsibilities and restrictions on their time and ability to travel, etc., get to experience more freedom.

I miss having a dog around. I loved those animals so much, and it hurt so much when they died, that I'm OK not putting myself through that again. I'm giving up all the good times to avoid the one really bad experience at the end. Maybe that's an immature decision. But for now, I'm OK with it.

Will I EVER have another dog or other pet? I've learned to NEVER say "never."

Michelle said...

I love pets but don't like poop, don't like cleaning up vomit and will bawl like a baby if anything happened to it. But .... I am considering getting one. Then I reconsider and then I consider it again and then I change my mind totally and put the idea on hold until I start considering it .... you get the picture!

When I went on the weekend retreat there was a little miniture daschund and she was soooo adorable that I almost kidnapped her.

Anonymous said...

With three boys, ages 2-5, and a dog, age 9, I must agree that my life ended as I knew it with the birth of the first, and probably won't return to any semblence of my selfish normalcy until the final one moves out. I'm not complaining, but my god, how they change one's life. You're right on.

Robin said...

Now I've got that song playing in my head..

"Sailors for sailorettes..."

Robin said...

BTW, I am SURE that I have completely botched those lyrics. I do it all the time.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Robin! You cracked me up completely! hat's the closest I've come in a LONG time to literally ROFLMAO! "Sailors for sailorettes!" How perfectly perfect.

(t WAS a joke, wasn't it??)

kenju said...

That is so funny and very, very true. I had a dog for 15 years who thought that her toilet was the dining room floor. I loved her, but I was so relieved when she died.

schnoodlepooh said...

It is true about the many years of love, companionship, affection, did I mention love, followed by the BIG PAIN at the end when the dog dies. It breaks my heart. But it's kind of like that Woody Allen line in Annie Hall at the end of the movie when he tells how his brother thinks he's a chicken and he won't get rid of him because he "needs the eggs". (yes, I acknowledge that I butchered that)It's that way with me and the creatures, I know it's going to hurt like hell at the end, but I have to have them because I "need the eggs"!