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Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Our adventures as pet owners
Animal Antics and Interactions
Perils of a Pet Owner by BethShelby
 Category:  Humor Non-Fiction
  Posted: March 22, 2009      Views: 410
Chapters:
1 2 3 4 5... 

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 ABOUT
BETHSHELBY 
BethShelby is retired from the printing and commercial art field. She is married and has four children and three grandchildren. She and her husband presently live in Tennessee.

Painting, photography, and writing are her passion. She has ha - more...

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I believe there are exceptions to every rule, even Biblical ones. I don't think God had my family in mind when he gave mankind dominion over the lower creatures. It's not that we don't like animals. For the most part, we do. We simply don't seem to possess that necessary trait that announces "I am your indisputable superior, and you'd better fall in line." So far, no four-legged creature residing in the Shelby domain, seems to have received any such message. None of them has ever appeared to regard us as more than a meal ticket.

Of course, it's possible, by some cosmic coincidence, all the lesser life forms which found their way into our lives were hopelessly deranged, and therefore can't be held responsible for their strange behavior, thereby excusing us as well.

I guess you can't expect much from a gerbil, so I won't dwell at length on the fact we never found a cage capable of containing one for long. The losses were minimal, if you take into consideration that I really wanted to replace the bedroom curtains anyway, and the jogging pants weren't at all new. I really did miss the skirt to my black suit though. I never did understand why this rat-like creature, which slept by day and gnawed by night, felt my skirt pocket was a more suitable home than the multi-level plastic-dream-castle we provided for him. 


I could get into the cats in our life, of which the number is legion, but cats have never been creatures who have a lot of respect for their superiors. Our cats have not been exceptions.  Their personalities varied, but all were independent. They all wailed and prowled at night, knocked over ceramic pieces, left hair on the sofas, and scratches on doors.  Still, you can't really feel like a failure if your cat disobeys.  It isn't their nature to cater to the whims of the human population.

So as not to totally slide over all of the Shelby felines, I think I might mention Tiffany, who although more aloof and independent than the other cats, took things a step further by refusing to step into a litter box, which had been used more than once, and showed her disapproval, with whoever happened to be on her list, by seeking out their personal possessions on which to defecate.  Despite her impressive pedigree and the fact she had been de-clawed and had her food served on a silver platter by her previous owners, this disgusting behavior earned her the title of "Outdoor Cat."

It seems to me, you should be able to expect a little more from a dog, especially since they are reputed to be "man's best friend."  Theoretically, dogs are supposed to be fearless, intelligent, loyal, and obedient.  When I think of dogs, a parade of Shelby canines comes to mind, none of which possessed any of these characteristics.


First there was Grendal, the registered German Shepherd pup. We had high hopes she would grow up to love us and to protect us from all things that go bump in the night. Our hopes concerning her bravery were shattered the first time we took her walking. She was terrified of every animal, person, or object she encountered. This cowardly animal trembled, whined, and tucked her tail at the sight of a fireplug, and I thought fireplugs and dogs were naturals. Her only talent lay in her ability to bury things. One by one, she managed to capture and bury my children's three half-grown Easter chicks, even though they were in a separate pen. We never figured how she managed to get them. Her next project was a bigger one.  It involved a 10 x 10 workshop building my husband had constructed. Luckily, we discovered the pit beneath it, before it disappeared into the ground forever.

Then there was Blacky, the little Jack Russell mix, who came with the house we bought in New Orleans from the Norwegian lady.  He couldn't have been all that loyal, because he never seemed to notice the change in ownership. The problem was he ate nothing but rice, and since I seldom cooked rice, he took his meals four doors down the street.  At least, he was low maintenance.  He hated bicycles with a passion, and tried to bite the wheels off of every one that passed. He earned himself a home in the country, when we overheard a neighbor threatening to call the pound, and complaining that some people don't try to control their animals.
 
My daughter, Carol, brought the next canine into our lives. By that time, we were in doubt of our ability to be responsible pet owners, and had to be persuaded by much pleading and promising. This dog would live inside her room. The experience would teach a fourteen-year-old responsibility. His care and training would be solely hers. At last, we gave in.  Bimbo, a Poodle mix, was an adorable fluffy pup. He stayed that way about a month.  By that time, he had gnawed trenches in the legs of Carol's furniture, eaten her shoes and stubbornly refused to be paper-trained.  He also proceeded to shed all of his hair and looked as though he had been on prolonged chemotherapy. The few hairs remaining were about the consistency of those of a pig.  Aside from the fact he was hideous, he pounced on everything that moved. Everyone avoided going into that room, except poor Carol, who had to live there, and she was rapidly becoming catatonic.

Again we turned to the country.  Believe it or not, there are people living in the country, who seldom say "no" when offered a dog.  However, I think it might have taken some real salesmanship on my husband's part, in the case of Bimbo, in order to convince them he truly was a dog.  As for Carol, she was cured for years of any desire to be a pet owner. Back then she regarded all animals as carriers of fleas, rabies, plague, and other dread diseases.

Nick was next. If I'm not mistaken, Nick is a name, which some use when referring to Satan. His stay was so brief, I'm not sure I have all the facts straight. He was a full grown, beautiful, but hyper, Golden Retriever.  My son's construction boss gave him Nick as a reward for doing a good job, or maybe punishment for doing a poor job.  After meeting this animal, I think my son must have had "sucker" written all over him.  This was the most undisciplined animal I have ever encountered. I tried to take him walking once. He dragged me for five blocks, during which he became engaged in three serious altercations with other animals of his species. I was a nervous wreck by the time I got him home. He was a large animal, and his favorite greeting was to leap up and place his muddy paws on your chest and lick your face. His appetite was phenomenal.  We ran an ad, "Free, to good home. Beautiful male golden retriever." Because he was handsome and friendly, we placed him with no trouble.  Less than a week later, I noticed the same ad running again, this time with a different phone number.

Several years passed before we tried again.  It's funny how time makes even bad experiences hazy. There is nothing cuter than the friendly face of a white cuddly Spitz puppy. This dog would grow up to be smaller than the dogs we had before. Surely, this might be the animal for us.  Originally, we thought Kokomo would be a house dog. This pup didn't take long in making us aware that destruction comes in all sizes.  Since we didn't want to replace all our furniture, shoes and carpet, my husband decided the time had come to build that fence, he'd been wanting.

In addition to a six foot fence, he was gracious enough to build this ungrateful pup a spacious dog house with real wooden shingles on the roof. I am not exaggerating when I tell you, this animal consumed the roof and one side of this lovely structure within the first month.  After that he started on the deck on which it sat.

When he was a few months old, we almost lost him. He developed Parvo, a dread canine disease which is usually fatal. The vet bill was enormous, but in the end he pulled through. I don't know if Parvo causes brain damage or just intense anger. From that day on, he was a vicious dog.  He hated just about everyone, even the people he saw on a daily basis.

My husband and I were exceptions to his hostility, and even that was subject to what we were wearing.  He snapped and growled at us if we dared dress up to go out.  Either he disapproved of our taste in dress clothes, or he was too dumb to know who we were, if we changed garments.  His toys were tree limbs, which he dragged up on the deck to do battle with. At times, I think he tried to breed them.  At least, after he finished teething, his appetite didn't involve houses.  He showed his distaste for our visitors from the outside of the glass patio door. His favorite trick was to wag his tail and open his mouth in a friendly way.  When someone walked to the door saying, "Oh what a cute little dog!" it was Kokomo's cue to transform himself into Cujo.  He would leap to the top of the six-foot door, snarling and baring his teeth, as they shrunk back in horror.

Our acquaintances and our children would shake their heads in disbelief, wondering why anyone would choose to own such a psycho animal. Unfortunately, we were stuck with him.  It seems we had run out of friends in the country.

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The book continues with Perils of a Pet Owner, Part two. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
This essay was written several years ago. I will probably be writing a more updated version soon encluding some later pet disasters, and at least one success story. In spite of negatives, some these animals did capture my heart.
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