Monday, January 2, 2012

Eight animals, plenty of poo

The other day I was trying to figure out whether I've cleaned up more animal poop or human poop in our house over the years. Ultimately I decided it was probably animal poop, but only by a narrow margin.

We have eight pets among our seven family members. This is in part because of the tradition whereby each of the kids gets a pet when they turn seven. The idea is to teach responsibility and all of that, and to some extent it works.

Still, I feel like I end up doing more than my share of fecal-related sanitation management, mostly in the form of cat waste. But I have to say, the kids do a halfway decent job of taking care of their animals. It could be a lot worse.

(NOTE: This is like the third time in three weeks I've referred to the fact that I clean the cat litter boxes. Why am I obsessed with this? I guess because it's a part of my daily life, but I never really think about it until I sit down to write).

I grew up in a dog house, with the extra-special bonus that I never had to clean up the doggy bombs in the backyard (my mom spoiled me, what can I say?) So to me, dogs were fun and virtually maintenance-free. Terry is and always has been a cat person, and from the time we were married, we've always had cats. I don't mind cats. I actually like the ones we have. But if I could somehow get the same sort of poo-free deal I had circa 1981 with dogs, I'd go out and get one in a minute.

Here's a rundown of our zoo:

CATS (3): Fred, George, Charlie
Fred and George are brothers. Very pretty snow-white cats. We refer to Fred as "Fat Fred," since he's noticeably larger than his brother and that's about the only way to tell them apart. Fred was the alpha male until Charlie came along 15 months ago. Charlie was a stray and a kitten, two factors that immediately endeared him to the women in my house. Terry found him in the backyard. Now he dominates everything and Fred hates him. George, meanwhile, is mentally handicapped. Seriously. And he's sort of creepy, too. But he tries.

Chincillas are cool. They're big fluffy balls of....well, fluff. Percy is very friendly. He lives in a big cage in the living room and will always park himself next to the bars if he senses that you're willing to reach in and pet him. Elissa, his owner, says he's an attack chinchilla. As far as I can tell, the only thing he attacks are his yogurt treats.

RAT (1): Ginevra Elizabeth
If you're a Harry Potter fan, you'll notice that all of our pet names so far are taken from the Weasley children. It seemed like a good idea at the time...Anyway, yes, we have a rat. And believe it or not, she's about the most lovable thing you'll ever see. Just a nice little creature, though no amount of "nice" can overcome the fact that she's a rat and has that rat tail. That's creepy even for those who love her. Ginevra belongs to Elissa, who apparently has a thing for strange pets.

GUINEA PIG (1): S'mores (aka, Muffins)
This one is Melanie's. Mel named her S'mores, but her roomate, Chloe, insists that the rodent is named "Muffins," which Chloe believes is a better name. I tell Chloe she can't randomly rename her sister's pet, but as you might imagine if you know Chloe, this in no way deters her. Actually, I think Mel and I may be the only ones who like the name "S'mores" better. Poor Mel.

ROBO DWARF (1): Roger
Speaking of Chloe, she's the proud owner of Roger, a female robo dwarf hamster. That sentence begs two questions: (1) Why is a girl hamster named Roger? (ANSWER: Because Chloe is Chloe); (2) What's a robo dwarf hamster? (ANSWER: I don't know. Here's some Wikipedia help.)  Roger is small. So small, in fact, that I don't even notice her in her tiny cage when I enter the girls' bedroom. Therefore I forget Roger exists. I'll bet it has been a good month or so since I've seen Roger.

The coolest thing about Allie is that she eats crickets. Live ones. Terry goes out and buys two dozen of them at a time. She or Jared -- technically Allie is Jared's -- will dump a bunch into Allie's cage, prompting Allie to go into Hunting Mode. Whenever a cricket moves, Allie creeps over to it, sizes it up, and strikes. She catches the cricket in her mouth and casually chews it, which makes the whole thing a fun spectator sport while undoubtedly being unpleasant for the crickets.

I just learned that Elissa has staged an intervention and has taken custody of Allie away from Jared. I don't believe Jared knows this yet. Elissa says Jared isn't taking care of Allie, but she is graciously giving her brother visitation rights. It's going to be interesting when Jared finds this all out. Given that his powers of observation rival those of his father, I predict this will happen sometime in 2015.


  1. Why does Elissa have so many pets when they are meant to only have one each? Do you get another when you are fourteen, twenty one and so on?..... BTW we're cat people too which is why we love love your cats especially Charlie :)

  2. Well, I really wanted a chinchilla, but they were really expensive so my mom bought me a rat instead. But then we found a chinchilla for free that we couldn't turn down, so I received Percy, but I still had my rat.
    And I just recently took full custody of the gecko. Because I love her too much to see her suffer.

  3. I really liked the sentence "I grew up in a dog house"...I had to go back and read it a few times. Then I realized there was a space between dog and house.
    Funny that you had the Weasley family thing going on but no one named their pet Ron, Arthur or Molly.
    My kids have guinea pigs, stinky, squeaky guinea pigs. Their names are Miley (obviously got her when Hannah Montana was still on) and Gloria. Named after the hippo in Madagascar just so we could say "I love you Gloria, I always have!" ;-)

  4. I found your blog online through the News Herald link on Facebook. I've really enjoyed reading it so far, but this is the best. My family has three pugs: Molly, Bellatrix, and Alhomora. We just rescued a dog three weeks ago a pit mix we named Padfoot. I'm glad to see we aren't the only family using Potter names. My husband told me though that the next names are coming from The Hunger Games.