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There is at least one thing I agree on with Donald Trump: “Donald was not a dog fan.” As a Godless liberal and unrepentant elitist, I have no plans (nor does Donald) to add a pet to my family in spite of the fact that:
“It softens their image, it broadens their appeal,” Ed Lengel, chief historian at the White House Historical Association, told CNN. “They help create an atmosphere of the White House as a family, a lived-in place and not just a stiff museum, but a place where a family lives and plays and enjoys each other’s company.”
For an image-conscious President, Trump seems to be in little rush to add a furry friend to the White House brood, making his the only first family in modern presidential history without a pet.
“There are no plans at this time” to add a pet to the first family, East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN.
Look, as a human being who believes in evolution (unlike Donald’s education secretary), I believe that I am an animal like all human beings.
I have no problem with that. I enjoy animals in their natural habitat, where they belong. I am against cruelty to animals. I have two prior posts about animals where I express my interest and empathy: The Waitress and the Rat and Chekhova. But, animals in the house? Please, you can see below what happens when you let animals into your house.
I like animals and I think it is important that we do what we can to protect and preserve them. I just don’t want them in my house. I don’t want the responsibility of being a pet owner. There are some special animals I do allow in my house, wooden animals. I wrote about them here: Alebrijes Make Me Happy and here: Lucy’s CuCu Cabana.
From an early age my experience with pets has been less than satisfactory. My brother had a German Shepherd he adored named Azore. Every time I walked by Azore he growled and showed his teeth and once he almost bit me. The reason he didn’t is that he was on a chain because he had a nasty habit of biting anyone who came close.
Later my mother brought home a wired hair terrier that we named Torchy. When I was about eight, I was standing in our living room in my socks watching a football game. My brother asked me if I could follow instructions. “Yes, of course,” I answered. He told me to take a couple of steps backward, then a step to the right, then a couple more steps back. Before I could say Jiminy Cricket I was standing in a pool of dog vomit. After that I didn’t have much love for Torchy or dogs in general. Sadly Torchy died a few months later after eating poisoned meat. We suspect it was the neighbor that put it out for her. Even though I’m not a dog person, it broke my heart. I decided never to get another dog after that.
We tried raising chickens for the eggs. For some reason our chickens took a fancy to pecking each other in the butt. We had to douse them with a foul smelling liquid that was supposed to stop the butt-pecking, but it didn’t work so we got rid of the chickens.
For the rest of my youth I did not go in for hamsters or ant farms or any of the usual pet and insect hobbies. My brother did bring home a rabbit once that had lost a hind leg after being run over by a harvester. We nursed it back to health and then let it go out by the local dump. It hoped away on three legs without looking back and that’s the last of my growing up experiences with animals.
Later, when I was grown and married and had sons, I tried again. I got a golden Labrador from our local Supervisor (a Democrat) that we named Taffy. She was a pretty good pet at first although unruly. I found out one of the downsides of swimming in a pool with your dog. Taffy gave both my sons a painful staff infection that required us to lance the large boils on their skin to remove the pus. Dogs can be yucky but apparently this can also be a good thing according to Jared Diamond in his book Germs, Guns and Steel:
Realizing the importance of farming led me to the next big surprising discovery of guns, germs and steel. Domesticated animals had given Europeans one advantage of which they were completely unaware. By living in close proximity to their livestock, they had become infected with viruses and germs of those animals, which evolved into diseases of humans. Through exposure over centuries, Europeans had developed some resistance to those diseases. But as Europeans spread around the world, they encountered peoples who didn’t have that same resistance, and who then fell victim to devastating outbreaks of infection, especially of smallpox. In the Americas, millions of native people died from this one disease, and here in the Cape it wrought the same havoc on the Koysan peoples. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs & Steel.
I tried to have Taffy professionally trained but it proved to be a waste of time. Another dog in the class owned by the Republican opponent to our Democratic Supervisor was a model student. Taffy was so disruptive to the other dogs that she was removed from the class. We didn’t even get our money back.
We inherited a yellow cat named Sawdust. She used to steal the carpenter’s lunches while they were building our house. She was more or less a wild cat but hung around our property, outside. I am allergic to cats. They cause me to sneeze, cause my asthma to flair up, and make my eyes itch. Our best friends have always had cats and this has been a great dilemma for me. However, when Sawdust showed up pregnant, I concocted a way to gather up her four wild kittens and cart them off to the vet for their shots. Then I gave them away to good homes, two to a carpenter friend who named them Harold and Maude, one to a cat-loving lady at the bank, and the other to a friend of my mother. My mother inherited a cat before I did when my brother died, a big fat black cat named Leon. Inheriting cats apparently runs in the family.
After Taffy and Sawdust died, I thought I was home free. But, when my son Zach went off to college, he gave my wife and I a little beagle bulldog mix that we named Mocha. I was beginning to feel just like Ronald Reagan, “there you go again.” Mocha took me full circle. Just like Azore, she was a biter specializing in males. She was also a whimperer and a barker and kept me up at night and pestered the neighbors ceaselessly. When my son completed college, I gave Mocha to him as a sort of graduation present.
So now we are pet free, almost anyway. We have an old blind deaf German Shepherd mix named Abby (after Downton Abbey of course) that hangs around outside our house because I feed her treats she can’t get at home. She’s really not a problem. I’ve sort of taken a fancy to her but she’s not mine. She belongs to my son who lives next door.
I like to joke around with my grandsons about the wild animals that live in the woods like the unicorn donkey, the wild horses, and the giraffes and crocodiles. We really do have wild animals in the woods like most folks who live around here: black bears, red foxes, raccoons, possums, bobcats, mountain lions, and lots and lots of noisy birds. Also skunks. Anyway, that’s where they belong, in the woods, in their own homes. And I love knowing they are safe and happy in their natural environment. My kids know my dictum: If it doesn’t have my DNA or an invitation, it doesn’t belong in my house.
So, Donald and I share this one thing. It’s not enough to make me vote for his pompous dumb arse but I must admit that it’s a connection that maybe we could build on. Good for you Donald. Once again you thumb your nose at tradition and refuse to have a pet in your very white house. I think you’re right on this. Now, if you will just listen to a few of my thoughts about how to fix the mess you’ve made of your job thus far, I might even stop calling you Trompudo.