People can go on and on talking about their pets until they have kids, then they talk about their kids until the kids get booted out of the nest and the new pets come in and they go back to talking about nothing but what the dog said the other day.
I’ve seen this happen first hand. Mom was “Mom” to Keeto Dan, her bishon until I came along. Then it was all about me. The tale was that Keeto didn’t like kids. No, Keeto didn’t like me. She only cared about my well being, I am sure, because Mom did. Other than making sure I wasn’t kidnapped for Mom’s sake, she kept her distance, giving me dirty looks. Sure, I was just a baby, but I remember her cold stares. Those dark, beady eyes of contempt. Makes sense. I took her place on Mom’s lap.
We always had family pets when I was growing up, and my parents doted over all the favorites. Cindy Chicken, Liz (my dog, the Vizsla), Betsy Wetsy Dog, Sarah Jane Watchcat (she could imitate Mom’s voice perfectly), Martha the Cat (she flew like a flying squirrel across rooms to latch onto you – that grabbed attention), Rosita, and Pookie (Dad’s Choodle). Pookie survived Parvo, rat poisoning as a puppy and broken ribs. So, it was no surprise, that she was the last pet I grew up with to say adieu. All of them were talked about much, but nothing to the degree of when I left the roost.
I was 23 when Pookie, gray and tired from cancer, left us. My parents took some time to enjoy the empty house and the freedom to travel, but they couldn’t go long without adopting more furkids. I found PJ (then named Chloe) while volunteering with the city’s Animal Welfare Program. I hadn’t seen a dog look more like Benji. She was so quiet and kind. I adopted her for my parents, and my mom gave her to Dad for Valentine’s Day, then named her Plain Jane. She took no time at all ripping the house apart, digesting as much as she could in as little time as possible. Every phone call started with, “You’re not going to believe what YOUR dog did today!!” For being such a demure “plain” dog, she was making a statement about being left alone. PJ this and PJ that.
I truly thought my parents had their hands full with Peej, as I call her. I think she’s on collar #4,592 as we speak, but they decided no dog should be without a pack. So here comes the baby, Osa. Osa is an Aussie/Husky mix, and looks more like some furry alien hybrid than dog. As a puppy, though, she looked like a cotton ball with legs, a baby polar bear, and because she growls in syllables, they named her “Bear”. Osa.
The calls turned from what was destroyed in canine rampage to what the baby said in a matter of a few weeks. I was right there, in the pre-kid furkid obsession with Sydney, Osa’s sister. Sydney is an Aussie/Blue Healer mix but she and Osa share the same build and knack for conversation. Osa says “I love you” and Sydney says “Shut up” so you can tell that Osa lives with a kinder (and now more subdued) older sister and Sydney lives with a big brother cat.
How much my parents and I discuss the pets compared to other topics (work, retirement, plans for the future, politics, investments, friends and family of the human sort) doesn’t surprise me. Any pet owner will tell you that furkids demand 24-hour time and investment, responsibility and care. Furkids also give you protection, love and they don’t talk back. Oh wait, ours do.