The Animals of Summer

african pygmy hedgehogI am dozing off in an armchair, the book overturned in my lap has provided a few minutes of entertainment but proves no match for sleep. I am in a house in the mountains of Colorado. In late July, the air is a cool, unusual, and totally agreeable, 75 °F. A light rain has begun pittering against the roof. I am, to be exact, in Heaven.

A drop of pressure on my shoulder has drawn my attention from ecstasy, but not relinquishing so quickly, I go back to my summer fantasy of scratch-off lottery tickets and chocolate underwear. The pressure is more pronounced, and then my ear is wet. This rouses me.

The dog, a Bluetick hound, is staring longingly into my eyes, his face is resting on my shoulder. And copious amounts of drool is attaching his droopy jowls to my ear.

There is no term in the science of speed that can calculate how fast I leap from the chair drying my ear on my shirt. The dog smiles as I do this. Then he jumps in the seat, yawns  and puts down his head for a nap filled with dreams of cats in trees and liver-flavored loin cloths.

This is one of the animals of summer.

Being a pet owner, I have always put myself on a pedestal above parents, and before you delete my name from the lists of possible Godfathers here’s why. Parents talk about their kids. A lot. Like, a whole lot. And now with Facebook, there is hardly a day without a picture of a naked baby, or a kid wearing a frog outfit or something else embarrassing that will surely be told to a therapist in about fifteen years. If you are in college now, become a family therapist, your services will be needed in the near future. This is not meant to be a complaint, I love my friends and I love my friends’ kids, and I love that my friends are proud of their kids.

But let’s be honest, showing them off on Facebook is the modern way of saying “Oh, you think your kid is smart, well mine has mastered the art of standing in front of a camera with pizza in his hand.”

So, being a perfect hypocrite, I grumble about parents and yet constantly tell stories about my cat. Like many pet owners, I do not think that talking about my animal is the same as a parent talking about their kids.

But, and this was made painfully clear to me this summer, it is.

Just like any parent, I want to believe that my pet is the weirdest, funniest and most interesting animal on Earth. Again, wrong. On top of a chair stealing, drooling Bluetick, I met several animal with idiosyncrasies and unique personalities. I met a dog who drops saliva-covered tennis balls in your crotch, knowing you’d have to make the choice between playing with him for seven hours or leaving a saliva covered tennis ball in your crotch. There was a cat who avoided the other cat by taking to the sink and counter, like a bandit in the mountains. This is where the cat lived, ate, and pooped. In the sink and counter.

There were others. I walked a dog who (every day) waited until we were surrounded by people to poop so that I would have to do the glory job in front of them. Then, as I gathered up her deposit in a plastic sandwich bag, she would kick it at me using her hindlegs. While I was mumbling through my smile, “I am going to kill you,” the others were surely thinking, “What a clever dog to get revenge on this bad fat man.” Not all fat people are bad, people.

I have bored bar patrons in Langhorne, Prague, Chicago and Kansas City with stories about these pets. And my hypocrisy doesn’t stop there. I have talked about free range animals as well. I have talked about getting attacked by frogs on our trip. I have told dozens of people about a squirrel outside of Independence Hall that lay on the ground spread eagle begging for treats. Loons, ducks, partridges (of which I am an accidental murderer), horses, moose, eagles, deer and bats have starred in my tales like Greek heroes.

One might expect a post like this to end with an apology and proclamation of change. But that’s not going to happen. As it turns out I am rather comfortable with this hypocrisy. Until I am dragged, kicking and screaming, into parenthood by prophylactic mismanagement or “love,” I will continue to embarrass the animal world with my stories.

Maybe becoming a pet therapist in the future wouldn’t be a bad way to go…

Make me feel better: How are you a hypocrite?

  1. #1 by Emma on August 30, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    have you downloaded yet? it’s an app that changes all the baby pictures on your facebook feed to pictures of kittens and puppies instead. i approve.
    things of which i disapprove: your captcha is just getting more and more insane. can we not restrict it to using only real roman letters? i keep getting hebrew and kanji…
    HA! reloaded and got captcha “drugto have” is that a sign?

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on August 30, 2012 - 12:23 pm

      Hm…unbabyme, huh? Sounds like something the Republican party would freak out over. Thus, I love it! Also, I will have my tech guy look into the captcha issue, you are definitely not the only one who has brought that up.

  2. #3 by Chris on August 30, 2012 - 3:55 pm

    Tech guy = Lee

    I am hypocritical in every driving aspect…. I hate when people cut me off but I’ll do it to them… Everybody that drives faster than me is a lunatic and everybody that drives slower than me is an a**hole but I rarely go the speed limit…

    Lastly.. babies suck… I’m thinking about this app..

  3. #4 by Andy on August 30, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    I hate politics and yet cannot help but to follow it with a certain masochistic persistence that is usually reserved for very hardcore pornography.

    I love cold weather yet live in a place where everyone complains when it gets even close to freezing.

    I hate captcha with a passion and yet I read and comment on your blog like clockwork.

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