Pet Interests

This month my post was inspired by my book review for The Grumpy Goat (See Recommended Reads), about a family that adopts a rescued goat as a pet but finds that owning the goat isn’t at all what they’d hoped for or expected. Such is the journey of being a pet owner. 

Thoughts of having cute, cuddly companions to comfort and delight us can be impossibly inviting, but what happens when things go awry? Countless devoted pet owners muddle through the mayhem, finding ways to adapt, or train their pets, enriching their lives in the process. Yet other pet owners concede defeat and surrender their pets to maintain sanity. 

Today I’m remembering my father, who revealed that he once owned a monkey– a capuchin, I believe, like the one featured in the movie Night at the Museum. Dad was a teenager then, and his girlfriend had initially owned the monkey, but it wasn’t working out for her. He wanted to help and thought it would be cool to own a monkey, so he offered to take it off her hands. I presume this decision was much to the exasperation of my grandparents.

I know few details of his experience, but I know that monkey business ensued only for a brief period. Dad grew up in a quiet little Iowa bungalow with barely enough room for him, his parents, three sisters, and a parakeet, let alone a primate. So the monkey had to stay in the basement, which was rather large and had windows to look out but was nonetheless an oppressive environment for such an intelligent and high-strung creature. Grandma kept her wringer washing machine in the basement and had clotheslines strung from one end of the room to the other for drying laundry. The monkey played on the clotheslines, swinging back and forth. I can only imagine Grandma putting up with this for a short time. I suspect that the monkey was gone by laundry day.

The only other thing I know about Dad’s pet monkey was that it would bite — a situation that could not end well for anyone. Dad wasn’t allowed to keep the monkey for long, and though I don’t know where the poor creature went to live next, I wouldn’t be surprised if another young friend offered to take it off his hands. I hope, though, that somehow it found its way to a zoo.

You never know what kind of animal will find its way into your life and how it will change things. I’ve had many wonderful pets over the years and a few that weren’t so wonderful. One of the most enjoyable and surprisingly entertaining pets was a little red-eared slider turtle who displayed unique climbing talents and nearly escaped her aquarium. Two of my least favorite pets were a pair of roosters – Charlie and Norman, who were quite handsome but terrorized me daily when I had to collect eggs from the henhouse. I lived in constant fear of being spurred by them, and they cleverly worked together in their pursuit of me, coming from opposite sides like bats out of hell.

Besides all my family and friends who have had dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, turtles, fish, and farm animals, I’ve also known people with ferrets, a hedgehog, tarantulas, alpacas, hissing cockroaches, and camels. All of whom, I’m sure, have entertaining stories to tell. Perhaps, you, too, have amusing pet stories to share. But, no matter our experiences with pets, we can probably agree that pets challenge us and open up our worlds in ways we never imagined.

Published by littleseedsread

Hello, my name is Julie Lerczak. For over twenty-five years I worked as an educator in a variety of art, history, and anthropology museums in Illinois, Iowa, and Virginia. Then, for the last five years of my career, I was an environmental educator. I am now retired and am pursuing my dream of being a children's book author. I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I live in Illinois with my husband Tom and our rescued pet turtle "Tootles." When I'm not writing stories I enjoy gardening, painting, making pottery, beekeeping, photography, hiking, and traveling.

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