Gerbils And Turtles And Cats, Oh My


This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This post’s topic is “Pets.”

Soyuz and Apollo.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not really much of a pet person.

I had pets growing up — fish, cats, a mouse, a gerbil and a turtle that I recall off the top of my head. And, oh yeah, the chicken. The evil, evil chicken. (The chicken may be why I’m not much of a pet person, really.)

After I moved out, my family had a dog and lizards, but I didn’t really have much of a relationship with any of those.

While I was married, we had cats on more than one occasion — A pair of kittens, Padme and Amidala, in Eupora; a pair of kittens, Soyuz and Apollo, in Huntsville (in a case of kitten names imitating life, an attempt later to integrate Orion into the mix ended badly); and the welfare cats in Indianola, which we didn’t really acquire but which, as happens with fed strays, became ours nonetheless.

But living on my own, I’ve never had pets.

As much as anything, it’s been a question of time.

(Let me interject here that I’d really rather be writing this post about the malevolent chicken, but that’s not really rethinking anything.)

Pet ownership requires time to be of benefit. When I went through the divorce class at my church, one of the things they recommended was getting a pet so that you can come home at the end of the day and be greeted with affection. But even at that point, I just wasn’t spending that much time at home; not enough that I felt it would be worthwhile.

Pet ownership requires time to invest. Pets have to be cared for. They have to be cleaned up after. And all those things take time. And given that the benefit was going to be limited, I doubt the time investment would be worth the pay-off.

And those things scare me. The surface level, I’m fine with. I can live my life without pets, and be okay. But, you know, they say pets are a good practice for kids. And I’m still working through what it would look like if I were to ever have kids someday. And those are not encouraging signs. Now, that said, I would like to think that I’d be more willing to change my schedule for kids than pets. I stay busy because I’d rather have human contact than be home alone, pet or now. A family would sort of meet that need for human contact, you know?

But the part that scares me most ties into time also, and relates to the second issue, about taking care of them. And that is, the older I get, the more quickly time moves. I can come home and say I need to do something soon, and the amount of time that seems “soon” keeps getting longer and longer the older I get. And with kids, you really can’t do that. If you’re going to feed them “soon,” soon needs to not be measured in days.

That said, I’m trying not to get too hung up on that issue. It’s easy to be afraid, but plenty of people do just fine as parents at my age, right?

And, besides, age might actually help — after all, I was a much, much younger 11 when I raised the evil chicken.

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