drains and dogs

I grew up in a home where pets were not in the picture. We never had a dog or a bird and only had an occasional ‘ease-my-guilty-conscience-because-I-won’t-let-my-kids-have-a-pet’ pet until I was in high school when my parents decided to get a cat.

I recall my older sister having a very small turtle which she took in the tub with her once when taking a bath. I’m not positive, but I think the little guy went for a swim down the drain when she pulled the stopper to let the bath water out. Bye bye turtle.

I vaguely remember having a goldfish when we prevailed on our parents in a rare weak moment. The fish didn’t make it very long, like the turtle. We all liked looking at him but no one enjoyed cleaning the bowl. The little fella suffocated in his own dirty water and when he’d given up the good fight, he was given a trip down the drain as well.

The only pet I have actual memories of was a little white mouse. He had gleaming beady red eyes. We named him Sniffles. I don’t know how we ever convinced my mother to allow us to have a rodent! We four kids would take turns having his small cage in our rooms. My sister and I shared a room and a large bed which had a white bedspread. Sniffles could disappear before our very eyes if we weren’t careful. The tell-tale sign he was there were his little brown droppings. Yes! Isn’t that disgusting?! Droppings on our bed! Follow those droppings and you’d find Sniffles.

We’d let Sniffles out on our bed and he’d run for his life and we’d grab him to attempt to hold him and stroke his minuscule whiskered nose and look at his tiny feet and rub his tummy and furry back and feel his hairless tail. He was a pet to be pitied!

Somehow Sniffles would escape now and then. I guess one of us wouldn’t latch his cage correctly. We’d go to get him and he wouldn’t be there. Then there was an all-hands-on-deck house-wide hunt for Sniffles the mouse.

At least, that’s my adult memory of my 5-year-old experience.  What I do remember without any difficulty is coming home after a vacation to find that Sniffles was not where we left him. We came in the house and he was nowhere to be found! My mother feigned surprise and said he must have escaped! After some fine acting, we believed it and went on with our Sniffles-less lives.

Years later, I remember asking my mother what really happened to Sniffles. She was a bit ashamed to admit the truth, but she told it with a mischievous glint in her eyes. She’d had enough of our pet mouse and decided the perfect way out was for him to “escape” while we were away.

What really happened to poor Sniffles was that he went the way of the turtle and the goldfish. He made a desperate descent down the drain! The toilet drain! He didn’t fall in, he was dropped head first. I almost wince as I envision my mother holding Sniffles by the tail, his legs splayed and toes grasping. She sent Sniffles down the water-slide of death. Brutal.

Now I’m a mother. I’ve been one for 21 years. We’ve had a hamster, a guinea pig, two birds, salamanders, a turtle, and an iguana – not just any iguana- but a 4 foot, spike-tailed mean iguana. I’m sure we’ve had other creatures, but we’ve most notably had dogs. Four to be exact.

This girl-who-grew-up-dogless now has three living in her home at the same time! Sometimes I yell to myself inside my head, “What is the matter with me?!!!! Why do we have three dogs?!!!” The answer has two parts: 1.my husband and 2. my daughter. Two peas in a pod, they are animal lovers to their core.

It’s not that I don’t love animals, it’s just that I don’t always enjoy them living in my home. I don’t enjoy the messes they make, the smells they emit, the wafting hair balls they unwittingly create or the plentiful poop piles deposited all over the yard.

I love their eager and generous adoration, their wagging tails expressing glad elation when I return home, and I enjoy having one keep my lap warm as I’m reading a book, but I’m still trying to weigh out if it’s an even ratio of inconvenience to enjoyment. Hmmmmmm. . . I’m still evaluating.

All I can say is, my family had better be glad those dogs won’t fit down a drain!

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4 Responses to “drains and dogs”

  1. Ellen Says:

    It’s so interesting to compare peoples feelings on animals. We had a constant barage of dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, rabbits, mice, fish, (never birds until I moved out of the house)…and guinea pigs! We had like 20 guinea pigs that kept breeding and breeding loose in our backyard! We have only 2 cats right now, but when the fence goes up in the yard, it’s doggy time. Take heart Kris…statistically people who have animals live longer. Something about “less” stress or something! 🙂

  2. Rochelle Eigsti Says:

    Kris, this one made me giggle… If only the drain was big enough!

  3. Claudia Kaser Says:

    I agree, your husband and daughter are lucky they have you and not me! We’ve had a couple of dogs in our 41 year marriage, but growing up on a farm means OUTSIDE pets to me! ‘Muffin’ appeared in our home under Terry’s coat, totally unexpected by me. Oh my! Muffun loved me most and lived with us far longer than I’d have ever imagined. NO MORE PETS in this house, unless it’s for a visit!

    Thanks for the laugh to begin my day!

  4. jennifer Says:

    Wow I feel the same way about animals. I don’t mind them but I sure don’t like cleaning up after them. You Are nicer than I am as we only have a cat because of me. So your husband and daughter are lucky they have you and not me as the mom. Lol

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