We plan, and God laughs.” That’s one of my friend’s mother’s favorite expressions. As a kid, I always thought — no, I knew — I’d have pets when I grew up…but what I didn’t realize at the time was that those occasional bouts with hives and asthma were going to get worse, not better. What had once been a mild inconvenience (it was really only the very furry cats, like Persians, that brought out the allergies), has become an all out roadblock when it comes to me and the cute and cuddly. I think I can safely blame this all on my mother, who simply kept a too clean house. They say kids need a little dirt, dust and dander to grow up healthy. See Mom, it really is all your fault. But we did have a nice house (she added begrudgingly).
But according to everyone else this week, every writer needs a furry pet to keep them grounded and inspired, to know they’re loved even when the rejection letters come. I feel so left out, so lost, so alone and forlorn. (You know, I never felt that way before Monday. Thanks a lot, guys!)
If only I could build my own pet, kind of like how kids build their own bears at that place in the mall. Maybe I could manage to invent a pet that didn’t make me sneeze. Hairless is out. I mean ick — no offense intended to anyone that owns a hairless pet — or IS a hairless pet — but…ick.
But if I could make my own pet, I’d call it Cat-Rat-Dog.
I’d start with Misty, the hypoallergenic (sort of) poodle who bears a suspicious resemblance to Spooks, the pooch in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day Mystery series. True to her breed, Misty is a real lady, pure class and style. I like that.
Then I’d add in some Hercules, a Yorky with attitude and no concept whatsoever of his tiny stature. Can you picture a Yorky with his hand on his hip and his chin in the air? I don’t care if he’s cornered by a snarling pit bull, Hercky’s response is, “Oh yeah? Come ‘ere. We’ll see whose bad.”
To balance out all that bravado, I’d mix in some Dallas, the scariest-looking boxer imaginable but a heart of gold. Maybe the sweetest mush-puppy ever born, he lets you know he loves you by leaning every ounce of pure, solid muscle against your legs until your knees start to buckle, or he sits on your feet. No one ever has the heart to tell him no.
To lend this animal an edge though, I’d give it some Pepsi — not the drink, but the outdoor cat I had as a teenager (I wasn’t totally deprived, just mostly). Pepsi had the run of the woods surrounding our house in Connecticut; he was King of the Forest and one tough nut. One of his more adorable habits was dragging his conquests up onto our kitchen doorstep to leave as tribute, I guess, or maybe he thought he had to pay for his food. We’re pretty sure he tangled with more than a few raccoons over the years and lived to tell about it, and in fact the only only animals truly safe from his rampages were the deer. They were just too big for him to take down, so I guess they managed to work out an understanding. Did I mention that Pepsi was 19 lbs? I know! We used to joke that he had no neck.
Lastly, this perfect pet of mine would have to have a touch of Rupie, my daughter’s little white and gray rat who wins the heart of everyone she meets. Her intelligence is astonishing sometimes — you can see her thinking…and planning. One of her favorite games is “Attack the Hand.” She’s joyful, playful, affectionate and not only that, she potty-trained herself. Is that cool or what?
So there you have it. Cat-Rat-Dog, my perfect pet who lives in my imagination, sits on my feet, perches on my shoulder, protects me, loves me, inspires me and never leaves calling cards on my floor.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us next Tuesday for a visit with historical and paranormal author, Bonnie Vanak!