Monday, December 19, 2005

Debbie's Petland

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.


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?"


Kate R said...

awww come on. They don't shed. Yeah, their cages smell like pee within a couple of days and they kick shavings all over the floor.

but they don't shed!

wheep wheep wheep

CindyS said...

Yikes! My best friend has a crazy ass dog (although she is starting to calm down), 3 cats and 2 guinea pigs. They live in a town house and it is nuts! The guinea pigs are definitely cute but hardly cuddly. I myself have always wanted a teddy bear hamster - too cute!

We have 2 mongo dogs and two cats. I think I will end up with three to four cats with one dog. Two dogs who feed off of each other can be tiring. I want one dog who thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread. For the two we've got, the other is the best thing. Apparently I don't like coming in second ;)

Pets make a house a home though.

Or a zoo.

Your choice ;)


Megan Frampton said...

I am so envious. I am allergic to everything. And, true story, I had gerbils when I was little, and when I had to get rid of them because of the asthma and allergies, my mom fed them to a local boa constrictor. And said I should watch. Not that I'm traumatized or anything.
I wish your mom had been around to rescue my little guys.
I think guinea pigs are the cutest, too, and they make those cute little sounds. Mweep! Mweep!

Suisan said...

Kate and Cindy: You aren't helping. You're making it far too easy for me to just go ahead and get the little, cute, sleek, smooth...STOP! :deep breath: ...guinea pigs.

Megan: *I'M* traumatized reading your story about the hamster. What could her rationale possibly have been? (Rhetorical) Circle of Life crap? Yeesh.

Kate R said...

Oh. MY. I think Megan's mother needs therapy. Megan probably does too. Wpw. That story is right out of some creepy thriller. Sorry, Megan.

I blame you, Suisan--I dreamed about getting baby bunnies for Christmas last night.

Suisan said...

And were they really cute baby bunnies? Were they? Huh? Cause all baby bunnies are really really cute. So fluffy and warm. Mmmmm. Were they that lovely siamese cat color? Or broken balck and white? So cute, you know you want some.

And in other news, we had (I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!) rabbit stew for dinner last night.

Megan Frampton said...

I hate to do this to you, ladies--but I had bunnies too, who lived outside in a cage, and one morning we woke to find various parts of them all over the yard. Some neighborhood dogs had come for a visit.

And yes, I am in therapy. Let's just say that which does not kill you makes you stronger. I live by it.

Megan Frampton said...

Oh, man, I sound super-weird and pathetic there. Sorry. I don't think I really am s-w and p.

CindyS said...

Megan - if my parents had done that to me I would have laid in my bed and prayed that I didn't do anything to piss my parents off for fear of them feeding me to a boa! Course, I am super-weird ;)

When I was 11 a friend and I happened upon a baby bird that had fallen from it's nest. I was instantly in love and we had no clue we weren't supposed to pick it up and carry it home. I ended up with it at my house because my friend had cats. I tried to feed it everything. On the third day I had to go to my soccor game and when I came home the little guy was dead. I was a mess and couldn't even come down to see where they buried the poor little thing. My father was not one to suffer my tears and would often say something stupid like, you had to know he was going to die. To make matters worse, my friend said that I should have sent the bird to her house if I wasn't going to be home. Yeah, thanks.

As for bunnies, do you guys get the Telus commercials with the orange bunnies. So far, I have been able to stay away from a pet store.

Oh and Suisan - mwheep, mwheep ;)


Suisan said...

Megan: We had rabbits growing up. And one morning we came downstairs to find the toy poodle had clawed into the hutch and eaten Flopsy. Lots of hair and blood, one hind leg and her head was all that was left. Having a pet eat another pet? Ewww.

And therapy is good. Never apologize for it.

Cindy: I love you, m'dear.
But the "Mwheep, mwheep?" Cold.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope you don't still think that Debby's Petland is an appropriate place to purchase a pet!!!
If you can blog, you can Google "puppy mills". When you understand the culture of abuse that these pets come from, and you really have a "rescue complex", you will understand that you never really rescued anything - you merely helped perpetuate a system that harms countless animals each year. Get educated and be really humane!

Suisan said...

Um. Anonymous. You don't quite understand the post.

When we were kids, my mom bought any sick or dying animal from the petstore. Now, all my animals come from shelters or rescues. (Except for the snake. But the snake's a different story.)

Did you not pick UP on the fact that the guinea pigs I was talking about are From A Rescue? No, apparently you did not.

Hey, I'm very interested in animal welfare and the overpopulation problems of "pocket pets" and dogs and cats. What I don't like in the animal welfare culture though, is a persistent inability to read for comprehension.

I post on Guinea Lynx all the time. You'll probably get a better sense of who I am when I'm posting over there than when I'm over here chatting about horses.

Next time you comment "Anonymously", try reading some other posts firsts. And give yourself a handle. Really. Be creative.

Anonymous said...

i love guinea pigs and have 2, but YES THEY DO SHED!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello. Love pets? Me too. Recently, on this great site I bumped into this company called Petland. It is awesome. They are all about pets. I called ther and then went to see the conditions of pets and decided I wanted one. There was no problem of getting my little Popy puppet. Such companies are really helpful for the pets and their owners.