This past Sunday there was a benefit for the Champaign County Humane Society at The Highdive. It was a lovely affair and even though it’s over, I’m sure they would be more than happy to still accept your donations if you’re so inclined. Anyway, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for animals and I’m all for helping them out as much as possible. I got my dog at the Humane Society many years ago and I have to tell you, he’s the most charming pain in the ass I’ve ever encountered. He feels the same way about me. Pets are something pretty special to us folks here in the United States.
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association recently did a survey and it found that two thirds of American households have at least one pet. It’s sort of surprising to me for some reason and I’m sure they’re counting snakes and ferrets and whatever, but it still seems like a lot of pets. I suppose that means that two thirds of our country is pretty happy when they come home from work and see that wagging tail or that slithering tongue or whatever.
I’m probably more of a rat bastard than most people, but I can look at almost any person and manage to develop some amount of contempt for them. I’m sure Mother Theresa was a fine lady and all, but I’m also sure that if I spent a week with her she would begin to piss me off in some way. On the other hand, I can look into the eyes of the mangiest dog in the world and it makes me smile. I’m not saying pets are better than people. I’m just saying — well, they are often far more enjoyable.
Like anything a person happens to enjoy though, having a pet does cost a certain amount of money, an estimated $41 billion in 2007. Of course, that’s counting doggy daycare, pet cemeteries, food, surgery, and pig ears, but it’s still a ton of cash. Personally, I find it very hard to go to the grocery store and not pick up a bag of dog treats before I leave. The dog’s so damned excited when I get home with bags of food, I can’t bear to tell him it’s really not his.
It’s just that he seems very impressed with me when I come home with food, so I like to encourage his hero worship. I mean, he’s a dog and not especially smart and also fairly unaware of what a supermarket actually is. Because of this, I get the impression that when I begin to unpack food; he believes I have actually been out hunting and gathering our supplies. “Wow, my owner is so awesome. He was gone like a freaking hour and he managed to butcher a cow and also package it. Then he must have milked a cow and made soda and coffee. I swear, I don’t know how he does it.”
So, I do spend a fair amount of money on him, but it has never once seemed like a problem because he’s basically like a family member at this juncture. Actually, I have quite a few redneck relatives who still urinate outside on a regular basis, so in that respect, he’s exactly like a family member. Hell, he may be more important than much of my family because I actually talk to him on a pretty regular basis.
If nothing else, he does sort of keep my life somewhat more focused than it would be without him. There’s no sleeping in all damned morning on a Saturday when a whining dog is pacing back and forth beside your bed with a full bladder. There are many days I wouldn’t even leave the house if it wasn’t for the twice a day walk. He’s like a little canine Stalin and his territory must be marked and remarked each day. It’s pretty much the same route and he knows what he has to do. There’s a street lamp in West Side Park that’s been peed on more than Chuck Berry, but each time we walk by it, he just can’t seem to help himself.
It’s sort of sad every day when I see him looking out the window at me as I leave for work, but when I get back home and see him looking out the window waiting for me, I can’t help but be a little bit happy. I’m not sure what he does in the meantime, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it has something to do with licking himself.
All I can tell you is that my dog makes me smile a hundred times a day. I can wave a pillow in his face and he’s genuinely excited. When I ask him if he wants to go for a walk, he will still bounce up and down like some sort of cartoon. He is happy as a pig in shit to do just about anything in the world I happen to be doing. I’ve said it before, but I could be driving my car into the center of hell and my dog would happily be sitting beside me with his head out the window. I wouldn’t expect too many people to follow me that far, but for some reason, I always expect a dog to.

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