Tuesday, July 7, 2015


     All of the rentals we ever stayed at prohibited pets, so our kids never had that experience. Too bad for them (and us), but it made our jobs tons easier, especially since the prohibition was a done deal—no pets meant no pets. So they never bothered to beg.
     We fudged the rules a few times. Once, my wife's brother got Braden a fighting fish from Chinatown and we kept it in a glass jar for a couple of weeks or so, after which we passed it on to the building superintendent for adoption. Wasn't exactly cute or cuddly, but we had fun feeding it live roaches and worms. (It started out beautiful indigo blue, then turned reddish-brown apparently matching the color of its food.)
     Another time Braden caught a tiny lime-green praying mantis at church, so I told him to hold it in a cup until we got home, then we'd keep it in a box and feed it grasshoppers. I'd done the same as a kid to fantastic results: the pair of mantises gobbled down the grasshoppers I fed them one after another for a couple of weeks or so. Then I saw them one afternoon one on top of another, so I tried to separate them only to discover they were attached! Shocked, I left them alone and went in to watch T.V. I later came out and saw on the floor of the box the wings and legs of an otherwise missing mantis, a dead toppled over mantis beside it, and a white gummy-looking wad stuck in the crook of a branch. Never got to watch them hatch out, though, as a neighbor friend took my box, said he'd call me when they hatched, but never did.
     Sadly, my kids and I couldn't find any grasshoppers even in wild grassy areas nearby. Shocking! The vacant lots behind our house in Hilo had had tall pili and California grass that shimmered with springing throngs of grasshoppers any time we touched any of the tall stalks. I attributed the present desolate state to indiscriminate use of pesticides—no wonder native fauna doesn't thrive. And the mantis didn't take any of the assorted live roaches, beetles, and other insects we offered it and died within a week.
     The same thing happened to a lizard Braden kept in a large bottle.
     So as kids, they of course love the cat and dog pets of friends and family. We don't get many invitations to such households, though, so any neighborhood pet that happens to pass by our house or which we pass by during our walks are their main pet contacts.
     Now here's an area Deanne and I diverge: I love cats for their elegance and selectivity such that they only come to you if they trust and accept you. I'm patient and know how to wait and accept rejection—same as when I courted girls.
     Whereas Deanne loves dogs, her pet English Cocker Spaniel (pedigree!) being her first “true” love.
     So when I take the kids for walks, we call for cats to come in high falsetto: “Meow...Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” Only two come—one if she's close by, the other, a recent find, almost always. The second is a slender gray Siamese, with blue pupils that are almost round! I've always been attracted to cats with colored eyes because the two we'd own were both black with a white splotch and black eyes, and of the strays and mixed breeds we ever saw nearly all had black eyes.
     Deanne, by contrast, dives head first into a neighborhood dog's face and scruffs its ears and counts it blessing if she gets licked all over her face and lips, and tail-whipped as her new best friend circles her as the owner does pirouettes to prevent leash entanglement.  Most dog-owning neighbors tolerate our kids' attentions for a few minutes, I suppose because the dogs get too excited and that ruins a good walk, not that I've noticed a significant difference before and aft.
     I promised Deanne if we ever move to the mainland and buy a house, she can have her dog and maybe we'll get a cat—either or both kept outdoors. Both my childhood cats were kept outdoors, and that worked fine and made sense to me. (Our indoor parakeet was a wonder of affection, our first pet that eventually got eaten—out in our laundry room—by a neighborhood cat or mongoose late one night. We awoke to find the fallen cage and a few of his feathers, plus points of blood. The room's door hadn't been closed properly; my parents felt awful.)
     There's no rush for us as parents to acquire a pet, though for our kids to have that childhood experience, time is running out fast. I suppose no one can have it all. And our kids have plenty to compensate, including each other and us.

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