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Davis, California

Monday, July 26, 2021

Column: Pet Peeves

Since before the advent of the Air Buddies movies, people have recognized that tiny, fuzzy animals are really cute. So naturally when one of my friends got an adorable puppy, suddenly everyone needed a baby mammal.

Don’t get me wrong; it was awesome. This sudden desire for pets meant that I could cuddle and play with a wide variety of fuzzy woodland creatures.

The best thing about these animals, apart from their adorable faces and natural tendency to lower your blood pressure, was that they were all strays.

Not only were my friends cool for having a pet, they were also awesome for rescuing them from turmoil, homelessness and a rough life of crime on the streets of Davis.

Similarly to The Blind Side, but with less football and more fur.

The only problems with owning – or in my situation pet sitting – a young, enthusiastic animal are the likelihood that you’ll get mauled and the huge responsibility that comes with raising a pet.

I’m not kidding about the mauling, either. My friends’ dogs would bite everything. Beyond the usual chew toys and occasional sheet of homework, these dogs chewed our shoes, the chord to our lamp and even managed to bite my housemate’s boob.

We found that having a puppy is surprisingly similar to having an infant. They cry a lot, need constant attention, poop whenever they feel like it and they have the potential to choke on anything.

And since they can’t talk, you’re forced to try and read their mind to figure out what they need.

That’s not even mentioning how fast they grow. People tend to assume that little baby animals will stay little, but my friend’s pit bull, Luna, is proof that one week can mean the difference between being able to get on the couch or not.

But the bills that come along with owning pets are more frightening and important than everything else. You have to pay for food, collars, leashes, litter and, of course, a never-ending assortment of toys.

Vet visits are yet another essential, but expensive part of caring for our furry friends. Having proper vaccinations and health checkups can save your pet’s life, but making sure to spay or neuter your pet means that you’re helping to stop the cycle of abandoned animals.

There are so many amazing animal rescue groups out there dedicated to finding loving homes for discarded pets. Unlike the people who get their animals from their friends, my best friend adopted a devilish and fluffy kitten named Puck from a rescue organization run by crazy cat ladies.

It’s difficult to describe the women who run the rescue, but I should start by saying that I watched one of them have an earnest conversation with a cat. They meowed at each other for a full five minutes.

I still wonder to this day what they were talking about.

To adopt a cat my friend had to fill out a 10-page questionnaire and undergo a CIA-style interrogation with the master cat lady to make sure the friend wasn’t a cat murderer.

It was one of the most uncomfortable conversations I’ve ever witnessed, but I appreciate why the lady constantly insulted my friend by implying that she was a terrible pet owner.

She said, “I speak for the cats.” What she meant was that it was her responsibility to make sure the animals would never be in a situation where they needed to be rescued from again.

As I said before, part of the difficulty of owning pets is their inability to speak. They rely wholeheartedly on us to keep them happy, healthy and safe.

But, sometimes, even the best intentions go awry. People like me and my friends can mean well when adopting a pet, but not realize the amount of responsibility that comes with raising a living thing.

There are so many complications that come with owning pets. Both the joy and stress of pet ownership come from overcoming the obstacles, learning how to fix the problems.

So, I think it’s time to embrace our furry friends and enjoy a good game of fetch in the park … or not, you choose.

KATE ZARRELLA wants to hear your crazy pet stories at kazarrella@ucdavis.edu.

1 COMMENT

  1. This column might be the best one yet. On behalf of every Davis parent, thank you Kate Zarrella for recognizing what it took to get you smart College students, furry or not, into college. Having pets is parenting practice, no doubt.

    I have to footnote, sometimes Rescue people get stuck in their love for the animals they rescue and hold onto them too tightly, rather than taking a risk and going with gut instinct. As did the folks at Milo rescue in Berkley who took a chance on me and put a sweet albeit goofy dog into my life. He is one happy, healthy, silly dog. 3 years later,he is no longer afriad of his food bowl.

    Good job, great article!

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