Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Call the National Guard

I’ve had a slew of cats in my lifetime, but I’ve only ever had one dog that I could call mine. An Irish Setter/Golden Retriever mix. I was in the fourth grade at the time. Sadly, after about three months of Houdiniesque escapes and holes dug in the front yard with such depth and breadth that they would make a Boston MTA engineer green with envy, I was forced to give him up.

His name was Irie and I cried on the porch with him all night before he went off to live happily on some farm somewhere.

But the important thing here is that we “got” him. I don’t know where my mom picked him up, but Irie was “gotten.”

It seems that nobody “gets” a pet anymore. It’s just not something that people do. After all, people “get” cancer, they “get” herpes, they even “get” audited. So the last thing you want is a pet that you’ve “gotten.” That pet may walk around its entire short life thinking that it was some kind of affliction. And, trust me, you don’t want a pet with low self esteem. They’ll only end up escaping to have midnight rendezvous with every floozy in town and try to fill the void in their soul by obsessively digging holes that mirror the emptiness they feel inside before they’re finally shipped off early one stupid morning to go and live stupid “happily” on some stupid farm somewhere!

For a while, people started to worry about their pets’ mental well being. Pets were no longer “gotten,” they were “adopted.” And that was fine for a while, but that Yorkie is going to grow up someday and he’ll want to have some very important questions answered.

And while I do believe that adoption is a great show of selfless love, and you can explain that to your pet, there’s still a very good chance that you’ll wind up downing another scotch on the rocks while pouring through countless puppy farm birth records looking for Nigel the Yorkie’s “real” parents. Oh sure, Nigel will tell you that he’s just “curious,” but there’s still a big part of you that will worry he’ll prefer his real parents. At least there’s one thing you can take solace in – his birth mother will invariably turn out to be a bitch. And the scotch doesn’t hurt either.

It’s obvious that these terms are obsolete. No one wants a pet that hangs out like a venereal disease, and no one wants an unappreciative little bastard who doesn’t understand the sacrifices that you went through to raise them even though they didn’t actually spring forth from your womb (thank god).

So how do you make a pet feel special and still maintain a level of superiority so high that they will never again question your commitment or authority?

I was reminded of just that very term this morning while I was taking a walk around the neighborhood. There was a woman walking a dog in front of me, at the corner she met up with a man who was also walking a dog. Among dog owners, there exists a fun fantasy; it’s called “hey! Let’s pretend that our dogs are making friends.” It’s cute. It’s incredibly nauseating, but it is somewhat cute.

When dogs “make friends” there’s usually a lot of sniffing, growling and jumping around involved. All the while, the owners go through the usual conversation. “What kind of dog is that?” “How old is he/she?” Interrupting themselves every once in a while to yell “stop that Fifi!” “No, Fifi, don’t bite!” “Fifi! They’re just trying to make friends…”

Really fascinating stuff.

The man asked what type of dog the woman’s was. She didn’t know. But instead of saying “oh, he’s a mutt.” She said, “I’m not sure…he was a rescue dog.”

Rescue Dog!

Of course, the perfect term. Well, almost perfect. As you may know, I’ve had some confusion about this in the past. But now I know that “rescue dog” has actually been rescued, they are not trained to rescue others.

So now we are rescuing our pets. At least those of us are who are heroic enough to get our pets at the animal shelter.

And we can all feel better about ourselves now. I mean, most of these “rescue” pets come with a really touching story. “This cat, we call him Tom, was placed in a burlap sack and thrown off an interstate into a river!” “This dog, Rex, was beaten with a pool cue until his right front leg just fell off!” “This fluffy rabbit, we named her Beatrix Potter, was actually butchered into bite sized bunny nuggets, deep fried in her own artery clogging lard, secretly dusted with gluten and dairy products to make her more enjoyable and served at a banquet of former Enron executives before she was found, taped back together, and placed in this cage!”

Touching stories.

But here’s the thing. The pet’s owners don’t actually do too much rescuing. Really, their work is pretty much done for them by the time they walk down to the animal shelter and point at a cage full of taped-together bunny nuggets. But that’s okay. If you want to feel like you dove into a pool filled with man-eating sharks to get your new Pomeranian, go for it. We all know that you’re an exaggerator, but if you’re able to live with that, who are we to judge?

And you can always use it to lord over a disobedient pet. “I rescued you damnit! Let’s have a little respect for the leather couch! If it weren’t for me, you’d still be dangling from your old crappy paper dog collar from a comically tiny branch over the deepest gorge in the Grand Canyon, thank you very much!!”

Well done, pet rescuers of the world. It really takes a special kind of human being to care for and love another living creature. Especially if it’s cute. Kudos. You’ve rescued my heart.

Fun Fact: This past weekend was a busy one. We hung out with a lot of friends and ate out every night (happy late birthday, Kathy!).

But there was one thing we did that was a bit unusual. Tanya and I hung out with Kevin and watched him take his shirt of repeatedly in front of a green screen while I videotaped and Tanya played music.

It sounds more sordid than it was. Here, you be the judge. Kevin’s latest music video parody, with playback by Tanya and camera work by yours truly, TAM. But really, this video is all Kevin, he even went out and bought clothes and a wig for it for god’s sake. Check it out.

And here’s the video that it’s parodying.

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