Lost and Found

Chinese ZodiacI love my pets. I’ve had so many over the years. My first pet was a rat. I asked my parents for a hamster or a gerbil when we went to the pet store, but the rats from the laboratory down the street were being given away for free. Many that squirmed around the box on display outside the lab seemed to have peculiar behavior characteristics and personalities. I reached into the box of squirming mass and pulled out the first one. We walked back down the street to the pet store, where we bought a hamster cage, some wood chips and a hamster wheel. My pet rat would run on that wheel every day, non-stop. Eventually, it figured out that it wasn’t going anywhere. So it snuck out of its cage late one night, and I never saw it again. And when my family moved to the farm, I befriended some of those animals as well. One of my first was a cow I tried to milk. Once I got down and discovered I wouldn’t be able to, the bull got angry. So I got up, grabbed it by the horns, and pulled its face to mine to set the situation straight. Every time I went back to visit it in the pasture, we had to go through the same dance, horns locked, until one day it rushed me while my back was turned, spurned by my red t-shirt. The thrill of running with a bull stayed with me for a long time, and my next pet would be a Siberian tiger. I spent years training it to jump through hoops and put up with all of my ridiculous outfits better than the bull had. We performed stupid tricks to entertain others who must’ve not understood the impact of effective teaching techniques. But no matter how hard you train a tiger, you cannot betray its instincts and feral knowledge. It reverted back for one wrong moment and ate my sister. Since I wasn’t allowed to have another tiger as a pet, I decided to go with something slightly less ferocious. A bunny. Not the egg-laying, idol worshipping kind that brought cavities to children and dental bills to parents. But the timid, fluffy kind that wanted nothing more than the occasional carrot. So cute, its little nose twitched as it nibbled on the carrots. Rabbits surely must have great eyesight. And strong hind legs as well. That’s how it got away. I was holding it, petting it in my arms when it pushed away and hopped out of my life. That was when I decided I needed a more fun and adventuresome pet in my life. So I went to the cave up the street from my house, prepared collar in hand. I solved the requisite puzzles to make my way deeper through the caverns, and finally arrived to the aptly named ‘Central Lair’, where it was that I tamed my first dragon. It flew us back home on its back, and slept in the pasture where the bull used to graze. It was ‘hidden’ from my parents until they discovered the scorch marks in the pasture. Apparently my pet dragon had come down with a cold. My parents warned me about the dangers of keeping a domesticated dragon, not for the danger but that the temptation to cause mischief would be too great to resist. And they were right, so I had to get rid of it. Sticking with the reptilian variety (of which I’m sure dragons must belong), I decided to go with its wingless, flameless brethren, the anaconda. My pet anaconda loved apples more than my rabbit enjoyed carrots. It was cute in its own way, too. Flicking its forked tongue it sought the apples I gave to it. The anaconda also loved to hide in the corners, crevices and betweens, and what made this inconvenient was the fact that my pet anaconda had inherited chameleonistic traits in its evolution, enabling it to pattern itself like the fabrics of my furniture, or the hard wood floors that it slithered around on. Eventually, it was so well hid from me that I lost my pet anaconda and had to move back to greener pastures. Being the loyal shepherd I was, I began tending flocks of sheep, and one of them became my favorite pet. Sheep were so less temperamental than my other pets. They were content to do as guided, and only needed to be sheared once a year. The problem with such herdable creatures, through, is that they will heed anyone who decides to lead them astray. And when some stranger led my flock away from me, I had to find a new pet. My next pet was another creature that enjoyed wide pastures as well, but had the ability to think for itself. My parents started by giving me riding lessons, and once I learned to ride in the saddle, they bought me a wild horse for a pet. Fast, strong and independent, my horse rode like the wind, galloping itself to constrained freedom with not a care in the world, but me on its back. But I think horses value their freedom even more than we do, and it finally galloped away without me. So I needed a pet I could communicate with, one that could understand me and I it a little as well. So I bought a pet chimpanzee. Extraordinarily intelligent, my pet monkey was like having a small child, smart as can be, but still needing love, nurturing and affection. And my monkey loved to play, too. Games that were fun, that made me laugh, and created memories I cherish to this day. I think my monkey got caught by a circus or a zoo, though, abruptly ending our time together. Every time I visit one of those places now, it makes me reminisce. I needed company now and someone to talk to again, so I got a pet bird instead. Not only could it talk (by repeating only phrases I taught it) it also sang the most beautiful songs. But the conversations became redundant, unless someone else was in the room, and the songs woke me when all I wanted to do was sleep. And birds, being the fluttering, fleeting creatures they are, fly away when they are afraid to nest. And it became so. What I really needed now was loyalty, something to be my best friend. So I bought a dog. Famed for being hardworking, loyal and playful, they are known as some of the most loving and thus ideal pets. They’ll eat anything, are easily entertained by anything you throw (or pretend to), and they’ll wait for you faithfully whenever you may go, breath more bated than stale. And their furball pups are so cute, too! But despite all of their acclaim, dogs aren’t the most intelligent creatures in the domestic kingdom. Not dumb, just domesticated into a pathetic shadow of their wolf ancestors. My dog chased a ball across the street without any concern for traffic, and was struck by a car. I took it in to the vet, but I couldn’t sustain the millions of dollars to keep it alive, not while maintaining the electric and water bills of its dog house. Such a loyal pet, but I could not do the same and had to let it go. Down on my luck, I didn’t know what else I should get for a pet. I kept searching, but couldn’t find anything that suited me anymore. What’s worse, it seemed many of the potential pets didn’t even want me. Such disdain; a saddened state of affairs to be undesirable to those who indiscriminately crave to be loved by anyone. If I really wanted a pet, another in my life, and if I didn’t have the patience to wait for one to come along, I had to settle for something less than a wiser man could pursue, because I felt that I deserved at least something. There is a large chasm between waiting for what you want or just taking whatever you can. I couldn’t achieve the balance to straddle the chasm, so I broke in, I settled, and I got a pet pig. Not cute (piglets deceive to boot), dirty, sloppy creatures that roll around in the mud all day, covering themselves with all sorts of shared filth and slime. I’m sure they’re not so bad beneath the stench and the dirt, between mouthfuls of slop we do them no perceptive justice by feeding. In fact, maybe the truth is that it’s what’s inside that truly counts. I don’t think I really need any pets. Now I just feel like I want some bacon.

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