Sunday, 3 June 2012

Pets - WTF?

They say it was about 9,000 BCE, during the Mesolithic Period that humans first started to domesticate animals, starting with the dog.  Oh, those damn Mesolithicians!

We have a dog.  Don’t tell anyone, but I guess I love the little bastard.  They say familiarity breed’s contempt but I think the inverse is true as well.  If you’re faced with the same little panting sack of halitosis, walking on top of you in bed, day after day, I guess it’s damn near impossible not to develop some sort of affection for what is ultimately a scourge, a blight, an affront to me and my lifestyle.

As warm and affectionate as that sounds, I have grown quiet tired of the experience.  He’s fourteen and we’ve had him since he was four or five months.  He’s still feisty but now appears to be losing his eyesight and has certainly lost a great deal of his hearing.  Not that he was ever that intent on listening to anything I had to say. 

It’s long been debated how, when I proposed to Suzanne, I made it crystal clear that our new life together would move forward without the acquisition of any domesticated animals and the ensuing responsibility.  My mistake in this matter was that I didn’t get it in writing.  Once the ring went on, the pet clause disappeared.  Who would have thought that I should have had the foresight to include a no-dog pre-nup.  It’s amazing how blinding regular sex can be to a young man. 

Suzanne of course argues that this conversation never took place but after all that sex her memory has weakened.

Anyway, I guess it’s way too late and way too trite, to go on about how I was wronged from a legal perspective.  Even though it’s really no way to start a relationship is it?  Opps there I go again.

So back when we got this dog (I use the term loosely), we lived in a loft apartment.  Suzanne, although clearly not well versed in conventions and contracts (let it go Jerry, let it go), was wise about her approach to breed selection.

We lived on the fourth floor and we were both working.  Coming home to tend to his highness’ every whim was to prove difficult.  So my lovely bride researched and discovered that certain breeds of dog can in fact, be litter trained.

Suzanne had a Doberman way back, when her life was empty and hollow and lacking in all things me, so what better compromise for her than a Miniature Pinscher.  I had a friend once comment, when laying his eyes upon Harley for the first time – “don’t you know you’re not supposed to wash Dobermans in hot water”.

And yes his name is Harley because as I’m sure you can guess, Suzanne’s family name is Davidson.

So it goes with any typical pet story I’m sure, dog is flown-in at obscene expense, arriving covered in its own urine and feces as I am left to make the pick-up solo.  This would mark the very first time that I was laughed at unsympathetically by a group of guys, when I arrived to a gaggle of Air-Canada handlers.  I would soon come to recognize the “how did you ever let it get this far dude?” look, whenever I had to carryout another demeaning and distasteful dog-related chore.

Dog is sent to an array of obedience classes, never really comprehending the definition of the word.  Dog knows no shame and is dressed in all manner of clothing from the time it’s a pup, including a Roots winter jacket, Mutt-lucs, leather jacket, Harley Davidson leather skullcap, St. Patrick’s Day bowler, Santa hat and reindeer antlers.  Dog doesn’t walk outside in the wintertime.  Dog sleeps in the bed (this one is my fault, Suzanne spent eight weeks in Pakistan in 2002 and after six I needed companionship – sick isn’t it?).

Now that we live in the deep woods, dog is sprayed with a homemade concoction bug spray to keep the blackflies, mosquitos and deerflies at bay.  Dog lived an upscale, loft existence in an urban neighbourhood and was walked through a throng of inner-city traffic every early spring to late fall day of its first eight years.  The first day he’s let off leash in the middle of nowhere, Quebec and a car goes by he loses his shit and without regard for either himself or the pulmonary health of the driver cuts directly in front of the vehicle.   He has not stopped doing this to this day.

Due to his failing eyes and ears, dog often mistakes a subtle breeze for yet another car going by or a cat burglar with a blowtorch or a medieval battering ram, trying to gain access through the front door.  This propels him into frenzied, snarling, barking at the top of his lungs, action.  Action, that I’m told is this breeds one and only reason for living - to protect. 

Originally it was for an entirely different reason that spurred some insane German dude, a number of centuries ago, to combine the genes of an Italian Greyhound and a Dachshund to create this odd little amalgam.  That was as a ratter.  These burrowing beasts, back when they were suitably employed, used to keep farmers fields free of rats by chasing them down their hole and devouring them.  Believe me when I say that this evolutionary trait left Harley a long, long time ago.  He wouldn’t eat rat if was presented to him on a silver tray - unless of course it was non-GM grain-fed, organic, free-range rat.

We are an odd breed ourselves, we humans.  I readily admit that pets are for the most part cute but what is it that is so greatly lacking in us that we have to bring these obscure furry relationships into our lives?  What does it say about our relationships with the humans around us that we need to bolster them with a sense of companionship from some four-legged creature?  Why do we set ourselves up to accept them as family members when we are well aware that we will far outlive them and have to watch them pass into the next realm.  Why…why…why do I have to tend to the waste by-products of a twelve-pound, four-legged, black and tan Napoleon?  Come to think of it, this would have been far more apt nomenclature. 

Contrary to my daily rants, I don’t really wish anything ill or untoward to happen to the little bugger.  But when that unfortunate day comes, when he transcends to the great bark-off in the sky, I can tell you one thing for sure…  Ah, what’s the use?  He’ll no doubt figure someway to outlive me.

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