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Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Anthropomorphizing your pet

If this dog could talk, it would be saying, "I hate you."

I think I’ve mentioned how much I like the book Watership Down. So much so, that I’m rereading the Richard Adams classic. For those of you who don’t know, Watership Down is a tale of a group of rabbits who leave their warren at the pleading of a little rabbit named Fiver. Fiver has a vision that their home will be destroyed. The book follows their many adventures on their journey to find a new home.

Obviously, Adams anthropomorphizes the rabbits–that is–he gives them certain human characteristics like the ability to talk, otherwise it would be a pretty lame book. But I knew going in that rabbits can’t actually talk because I’m smart like that. Besides, it’s a story of very real human struggles told effectively through the eyes of rabbits. It works.

But here’s what doesn’t work for me.

People who think their pets are their children and the advertisers and pet industry executives who take advantage of their stupidity.

I’ll skip the not-so-subtle message of this commercial which says your cat’s well being takes precedent over your significant other’s. But since when do cats give a crap about breakfast? Are you telling me that the creature who just laid a bloody lizard on your chest while you were napping on the couch has a preference for eggs in the morning? Breakfast food for cats? Seriously?

And then there’s this:

Let’s ignore the fact that the woman is laughing while that big, filthy dog is shaking flour all over her kitchen and then chases him around the island in slow motion and get to the heart of the matter: Dog cookies. I don’t know about your dog, but mine has been known to eat cat feces right out of the litter box, and I never once recall him asking me to chop it up and bake it into a cookie before doing so.

I’m not a pet hater. I’ve had pets my entire life. I know they provide unconditional love (well, dogs anyway) and companionship. Our cat Rudy and our dog Buddy Love are both a part of the family. But they’re animals, not people.

Paul McCartney is quoted as saying, “You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.”

And I would agree with that to a certain extent, but when you begin to give the lives of animals precedent over the lives of fellow human beings, the world’s been turned upside down.

Just stop it, please.

Stubborn Love

I’m mad at my dog.

I know. Ridiculous, right? Being mad at a dog is akin to engaging in an argument with a screaming two year old at the Walmarts. In retrospect, both are losing propositions which make you feel like an idiot. Some battles you just can’t win, you can only strive to do better next time.

On a typical day, Buddy Love the dog sleeps in until around 7:30 in the morning, which is when it’s time to walk the girl to the bus stop. He looks forward to this routine. He enjoys the short walk with the added bonus of being able to pee and poop in someone else’s yard–to spread the Buddy Love, if you’ll pardon the horrible pun.

This has not been a typical week, nor will things return to normal anytime soon because my daughter has been assigned safety patrol duties for the next 5 weeks. This means that rather than taking the bus to school, I drive her. It also means that Buddy is awaken from his beauty sleep a few minutes early and is plunged into the cold, wet, unforgiving, all-too-familiar grass of the back yard and expected to do his business as I stand there impatiently yelling words of encouragement such as, “Come on, dog! POOP already! I don’t have all morning!”

Thus far this week, this has resulted in Buddy’s refusal to take care of business outside, rushing into the house, through the master bedroom and into the closet. Where he took care of business. This scenario was replayed the following morning, except that I prudently shut the bedroom door so he could not rush to his go-to poop spot. He must have seen me do this before we went outside, because once in the house, he ran toward my son’s room. Where he took care of business just inside the door where I would be sure to see it.

Any of you reading this who are familiar with dachshunds are probably either laughing at me or rolling their eyes. Quite possibly both. Because if you’ve owned a wiener dog, you know a little about their personalities.

From Dog Time: Dachshund Dog Breed Profile:

The Dachshund is described as clever, lively, and courageous to the point of rashness. He’s bred for perseverance, which is another way of saying that he can be stubborn. Dachshunds have a reputation for being entertaining and fearless, but what they want most is to cuddle with their people. For many Dachshund people, this characteristic outweighs having to deal with the breed’s insistence on having his own way.

Buddy Love is essentially the dog version of me.

This pretty much sums up dachshund training.

Why is Buddy Love refusing to take care of business outside in the morning? I’m pretty sure he’s mad at me, too. And he wants me to know that he will not poop on command just because I’m in a hurry. In other words, I’m not the boss of him.

"Walking" Buddy

I’ll spare you the heights of ridiculous stubbornness both of us have engaged in this week, including but not limited to a phone call to my husband at work (who is extremely busy) to gripe about how stubborn and aggravating this little dog is, followed by this incredibly mature text sent to him after spending 30 frustrating minutes outside with the dog:

Despite our ongoing battle of wills this week, from the moment I sat down to write this post until this very moment, Buddy Love is where you will find him most days–snuggled up right next to me, and I am enjoying his company as I always do. Because companionship, loyalty and love cover a multitude of sins.

Editor’s Note: In Buddy’s defense, he never pees in the house. A fact I’m very grateful for.

Wild Kingdom, Part 2: Dear Carrot

It is with great joy and relief a heavy heart that I share the news that the newest member of our household, a gecko lizard named Carrot (don’t ask–I have no idea), has been released into the wilds of our front flower bed. It was the right thing to do. It was the expensive thing to do, because I had to bribe my daughter with a fish tank in order to agree to set Carrot free. Things got a little dicy at the Petsmart when my daughter wandered toward the hamsters, but I held my ground. It was a fish or nothing. My kids may be stubborn, but their stubbornness pales in comparison to mine, especially when the prospect of cleaning up more poop is involved.

I think it’s only fitting that I write a farewell letter to Carrot. May he or she live a long and happy lizard life.

Dear Carrot:

I suppose it’s a small miracle that we found you in our house, not that finding geckos in our house is that uncommon, but typically the cat finds them first, and well, let’s just say they’re usually missing some parts when I find them. I know you’re a young lizard, but these are the hard facts of life for a gecko who wanders away from his natural habitat.

I know we barely got to know you, but those two days we will remember fondly, even if you did hide behind a rock most of the time. You will be missed, but your place is in the wild, not in a plastic storage container filled with dirt and Jenga game pieces.

So today we set you free.

You were hesitant at first, not sure what it all meant.

But then instinct kicked in and you scurried under a plant without looking back.

I hope you don’t mind, but we got a new pet.

Captain the beta fish will never replace you, he’s just a little less disgusting (no offense) and his food comes prepackaged. I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we seriously entertained the idea that anyone was going to catch and feed you live insects, and crushed up salad toppings are not the proper diet for a growing gecko.

You are welcome to live out your lizard life in our flower beds. A word of warning, though. I know it’s tempting to hang around the door close to where the porch light is and therefore where the insects fly at night, but I would strongly advise against it. If you don’t take my word for it, just go see for yourself what happens to geckos who choose the dangerous life of a door climber.

Take care of yourself. Watch out for mockingbirds and blue jays. We’ll leave the light on for you, but please stay outside?


The Richards Family

The truth about cats and dogs

image courtesy of

Do you remember the movie The Truth about Cats and Dogs? In case you missed it, here’s the plot summary courtesy of Wikipedia followed by a trailer from the movie courtesy of YouTube:

Abby Barnes (Janeane Garofalo) is a veterinarian, who hosts a Los Angeles radio show called “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.” The use of this as the title of the film also suggests the combative nature of male-female romantic relationships. Abby strikes up an unexpected friendship with her neighbor Noelle Sluslarsky (Uma Thurman), a traditionally attractive model who is sweet, but not very sharp. When Abby makes a blind date with a caller to her show (Ben Chaplin), her insecurity with her own appearance leads her to convince Noelle to pretend to be Abby when meeting the date. Unfortunately, both women develop feelings for the man, leading to a comedic series of misunderstandings, as the unintended consequences of their deception grow deeper.

When I saw that the topic for this week’s blog carnival was pets, I did what most people would probably do. I thought about my pets, past and present and attempted to write a story about what they meant to me. And while heartfelt stories about a favorite pet are almost always moving and/or inspirational, I wasn’t really feeling a personal pet story. I’ve got them, but I suppose just about anyone who has ever had a pet has at least one. Probably better than mine. (Although I will go on record here stating that my cat Rudy is 17 years old–119 in human years supposedly, and I also owned male and female litter mates that lived to be 20 and 21 respectively. Cats love my company so much they refuse to die. Which is sort of strange because the feeling is not necessarily mutual.) But I digress…

I agree with what the character Abby says at the beginning of that clip: “You can love your pets, just don’t love your pets.” And no, I’m not talking about a 3 hour tongue bath from your cat, even though I’m pretty sure that would be considered inappropriate under any circumstances.

What I mean is that most pets, and dogs in particular, are easy to love because for the most part they love us unconditionally and without judgement. They lavish us with affection and loyalty and ask very little in return. My dog Buddy Love is a great companion. I don’t recall a single blog post typed from my computer when he wasn’t either sitting in my lap or snuggled up next to me. I do love that dog, but that kind of love and companionship is not the same as loving people.

People are hard to love.

And there’s no such thing as unconditional love when it comes to human beings. We may come close on rare occasions, but our selfish natures prevent us from that kind of love.

Someone once said, “The more people I meet the more I like my dog.”

And while there are days I might wholeheartedly agree with that statement, I simply can’t give up on loving people.

Because the One who really does love me unconditionally commands me to love Him and love people.

And He never mentioned the dog.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Pets, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more about pets, please visit him at

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide (Part 2)

As we learned in the first installment of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide, nothing exceeds like excess. And since Thanksgiving is now a distant memory, there’s no doubt that there are only a few among you who have yet to decorate your humble abodes in holiday splendor. Let us proceed with some clever gift ideas for everyone on your buying list this year.

For the Over-Indulgent Parent:

While phrases like, “It’s more important what’s on the inside than what’s on the outside” are all well and good for less attractive children, your little princess deserves only the very best! “Add an attractive and useful addition to your little girl’s room with this daisy pastel vanity. It is a perfect furniture for their make-up, brushes, barrettes and jewelries. It maximizes the space in their room while keeping their fashion accessories organized.” ($189.99)

Stuffed animals are a dime a dozen. If those tiny Webkins and Shining Star animals are all the rage, just imagine how grateful your kids will be when they see this bad boy under the tree! Our gorgeous Giraffe makes a big statement. Featuring soft and cuddly plush and life-like features this beauty is sure to be family favorite for years to come. Featuring premium plush and an internal frame to keep upright. Giraffe filled with synthetic fibers. Size 22″l x 14″w x 59.5″h, Weight 12 lbs. Imported. (Age 3+)” (99.99)

Has your little train engineer grown tired of playing with his Thomas the Train railroad set? I mean, sure — buying the complete set may have put you back a few grand, but how can you put a price on childhood memories? Let him experience the thrill of riding the rails with his very own Lionel Pedal Train! Train includes all-steel construction, adjustable pedals, chrome bell, realistic locomotive sounds, padded seat, and beautiful finish. Ride-on maximum capacity of 100 lbs. Seat to pedal 16-19″. Size 46″l x 18″w x 25″h, Weight 39 lbs. Imported. (Age 2-6) Please note the weight limit of 100 lbs. — not recommended for fat kids. ($319.99)

Isn’t it cute when other parents brag about how their little Johnny got an “A” in science class? You could point out to them that their kid is in regular classes while yours is in the “gifted and talented” program, but that would be condescending. Just invite them over the next time your kid pulls out his Fuel Cell Car and Experiment. “Winner of the Silver Award from the Parents Choice Foundation, this experiment kit gives children a fun, hands-on way to discover fuel cells, one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century. This kit makes 30 distinct experiments, including a car that uses solar power and a fuel cell to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis, and then runs on the resulting energy. Experiments cover electrolysis and its effect on water, how to construct and load a reversible fuel cell, decomposition of water in a fuel cell, and many others. Contains all necessary parts, tools, and a
lab manual (distilled water not included). Ages 12 and up. Made in Germany. 5-1/2″ H x 5″ W x 8″ L. (1 lb.)”

It’s tons of fun for kids to spend a day at the amusement park or water slide. But let’s face it, places like that are often frequented by some pretty undesirable folks. Why not let your kids enjoy the essence of the park without exposing them to the seedier elements of society?

Thrill Zone includes a bouncing area with netted sidewalls, a climbing wall with handles and footholds, a water slide with side rails, a pool at the slide landing, and a tunnel. Top arch with sprinkler system. Entrance ramp with Velcro closure. Durable PVC unit includes water bags and stakes for added stability, and a 110volt blower pump. 228″ L x 92″ W x 81″ H. Weight limit 100
lbs. per section (500 lbs. total).

I can already hear some of you now, “Kat, I don’t have any human kids, aren’t you forgetting about our little four-legged variety?” Well, of course not! This next section is just for you.

For The Over-Indulgent Pet Owner

Since many reading this are now experiencing cold weather, it seems cruel to expect little Bella or Baxter to brave the elements just because they have to tinkle! Even those of us who are still enjoying milder weather would agree that taking a dog out in the humid, damp air would be disastrous to their newly coiffed and groomed coats! That’s why I love this next product, the Indoor Dog Restroom. This mat and tray system gives dogs a place to relieve themselves when they can’t go outside for a respite. This ingenious system uses a mat made of antimicrobial, porous artificial turf that gives off an organic scent to attract dogs, so they can be taught quickly that it is an acceptable spot for relieving themselves. The tray is easy to empty and can hold up to 2 gallons of liquid. Sure, to the casual observer it looks like a door mat on a cookie sheet, but you and I know better! ($149.95, replacement mat $64.95)

Don’t worry cat lovers, I haven’t forgotten you! How many times have you said to yourself, “That big, stinky litter box seems so crude! Doesn’t my cat deserve the dignity of using her very own toilet?” Well, of course she does! For hands-free cat box care, you can’t beat the Cat Genie. Just press a button and the world’s most advanced litter box flushes away cat waste, then washes, sanitizes and dries the entire area. You can even preset the controls to do it automatically every

We’ve covered a couple of products to make your favorite canine or feline feel like part of the family, but what about your fish? Don’t you imagine that they get kind of lonely way over on the back wall away from direct sunlight? Treat Bubbles to his new home right in the middle of the action with his very own Aqua Coffee Table. After all, fish have feelings too! ($529.95)

That conclude this edition of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide. I know many of you are hankerin’ to go online and start your shopping, but wait…there’s more to come. For those of you who want to beat the Christmas rush on these items and choose to order today, make sure to tell them at Sky Mall that Katdish sent you…

On second thought, maybe you should leave my name out of it.