When I was a kid there was a petstore not too far away from us. My mother has a very well developed "rescue complex" (my term). She sees an animal in distress and it comes home with her.
We got a black toy poodle, Patty, when I was about 3 (I think?). On the night Nixon was elected, my parents started getting annoyed at the TV as election results started coming in. (We drove around for years in a brown Ford LTD with the license plate, "Don't blame me! I'm from Massachusetts.") So we all piled into the car to go look at an orange Pomeranian puppy my mother had seen earlier in the day at Debbie's Petland. Father: "We have a dog." Mother: "I know, but let's go look."
The petstore worker put the puppy in my arms and led me into a small room where we could play together. After a while she came back and asked to hold the puppy. I said, "Sure!"
She put the puppy, MY PUPPY!!, back in the green fiberglass cage with the silver bars in front. I started shrieking and hiccuping at the same time. (I was 4 at the time.) Apparently I shrieked all the way home. I vividly remember lying in bed that night crying while my father's voice boomed from his bedroom, "Not ANOTHER word about that dog!"
The next afternoon, without explanation, my mother brought me home from daycare and in the kitchen was MY PUPPY! (We named her Sprite and she lived eleven years and had two litters of pups. The pick of the first litter went to my best friend--she named her boy, Pepsi. He became the neighborhood character--showing up on people's porches and demanding to be let in to sleep in the kitchen. Sprite was categorically my very best friend.)
As years went on, we acquired more and more animals (mostly finches and budgies) from Debbie's Petland. The most famous tally was the year we had 2 dogs, an iguana, a chameleon, a canary, 8 finches, 3 budgies, 3 rabbits, a descented skunk, and three ringnecked doves in the house. The crickets and mealworms were never counted. (At one point we took care of an orphaned raccoon--what a disaster! And during the same period of time we owned two horses, but they weren't in the house, so kind of didn't count?) My dad built huge chicken wire and wooden enclosures for all the animals, and dutifully dug trenches for their handmade coffins when they died. (Except for the horses--we didn't make him built cages for them either.)
My aunt had seventy horses, four dogs, and 15 cats when she died.
My mother currently has three Yorkshire terriers and I-don't-remember-how-many-but-last-time-I-asked-it-was-between-ten-and-twenty parrots, two finches, and a canary. (She doesn't have the huge macaws, and some of the parrots are actually parotlets and cockatiels, so they're not big, but they ARE LOUD!) (The third Yorkie came in as a puppy when the first Yorkie suddenly developed kidney failure earlier this summer. Then the elder Yorkie rallied--still needs daily subcutaneous doses of fluids--no one knows how she's still alive.)
Large numbers of pets run in the family. I think we all have a barely controlled tendency towards hoarding. No one lives in squalor; we've always accepted ridiculously high vet bills as part and parcel of this contract with the animals. So probably hoarding is a harsh term, but the numbers of animals we're talking about defy an easy explanation.
I go towards the "rescue complex." I know how to take care of these guys, I know they'll have a good home with me, I'll take 'em home. The others at home will just have to learn how to adjust.
This tendency terrifies my husband. We have one dog.
But there was a period a few months ago where I was trying to set up fish tanks in every available space. (Short story--we have weird water. Had it analyzed and everything. Went on internet forums--eventually everyone said, "Whoa. You have weird water." Algae grows in our Brita pitcher, let alone in our tanks.) So I ditched the tanks.
Then on Friday I started looking at guinea pigs on the internet.
WHY?!?! WHY? I ASK YOU? WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?
These two are a bonded pair:
And this one is so sleek and cute!
All weekend I've been scouring internet forums, learning about nutritional requirements (They need fresh veggies. Duh.), cage requirements (They need big ones but there are detailed instructions on how to build a piggy palace. Aren't there detailed instructions on how to build everything these days on the net?), and rescue organizations (These two are adoptable from a reputable guinea pig rescue.).
Omigod. I really want a guinea pig cage in the family room. I want pigs. Smooth shiny little Wheep! Wheep! Wheepers!
And then there's the voice of reason saying, "Hey! Knock! Knock! Remember how on this blog you've repeatedly written that you NEED to vacuum and you HATE to vacuum, but you'd better do laundry RIGHT NOW?! You need more pets in your life?"
And then the other voice whispers, "Please?"