As I sit here watching my cat sniff the drying paint-brushes and picture him suddenly pulling a Pepe Le Pew (he’s black, the paint is white) I’m amazed to see that he’s actually smart enough not to get the paint on him. I’m amazed because this is not the world’s brightest cat. He frequently does things that make us look over at the dog—a big, lumbering golden retriever—and say (on behalf of the dog), “I’m the smart pet.”
The dog doesn’t actually talk ands the cat does manage to think—after a fashion—and I sometimes wonder why on both. Often, I look at these two animals that I care about very much and ask myself, “What possessed us to let animals in the house?!?!” I mean, we don’t let wandering skunks or other random vermin in the house, so why did we let these two in? Why do we spend time, effort, and sometimes money to keep them healthy?
Why do we talk to them?
I talk to both of my pets, and it’s not just saying, “No! You stupid cat!” I’ll tell them what I’m doing or ask them how their days it going. I don’t really expect them to answer—and sometimes I don’t even expect them to acknowledge my existence—so it’s a lot like talking to a teenager. Often, in the middle of talking to one of them (especially the dog, as he seems to actually be paying attention right up until the important part*) I’ll ask myself, “Why am I talking to this thing as if I expect it to respond?” I don’t respond to the question, though, which makes me think I’m not listening any better than the pet.
*Asking the dog to “loan me five until payday” always seems to go right over his head. I think he’s faking.
I am all for pets and have had them most of my life, but sometimes I wonder why. Why do we go through all this trouble with house training and daily walks and changing litter and the expense of pet food and … all of it? Why go to this trouble? And, especially, when that inevitable moment comes where the pet dies I tell myself, “Never again!” but then another stray kitten is found and the cycle starts over.
Of course, I know the reason: we’re hoping to hit that $10,000 prize on “America’s Funniest Videos” when the cat accidentally pulls down the drapes and sets fire to the house while knocking over the Christmas tree. No, seriously, that’s not the reason, mainly because I’m not that quick with a camera.
The reason we—or maybe I should just say “I” because I don’t know if you have pets—is because they are pretty good company. No matter what sort of day I have had—or what sort of day he has had—the dog is always there to welcome me at the door with his tale wagging. Usually, the cat is there, too. I’m not sure if he’s come to welcome me or is just following the dog (something he does a lot), and I don’t care. I like my furry welcoming committee. And the times I trip over them in the night are mitigated by the way they cuddle up to me while I watch the football game. It’s been said we grieve more at a pet’s funeral than we do at a relative’s funeral because we weren’t pretending to love the pet and I think that sums it up pretty well.