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Kicking It with our new pet


Last updated 1/7/2022 at 5:14pm

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Having just returned from a flight to Austin, Texas, I noticed many folks these days travel with their pets. That got me thinking that maybe it’s time we add one to our home.

The hiccup is what to get? My husband has always been a cat guy. But growing up on the farm we mostly had dogs around the house although there were always plenty of barn cats. They are quite different from house cats.

I found that out some years back when a feral Manx cat adopted us in Lodi. Growing into an 18 pounder, Buster was a bad-ass cat.

He wore his attitude in his walk. It said, “don’t even think about petting me.” Over time he became the landed gentry of our abode coming and going as he pleased, wandering his territory without a worry, but mostly, Buster was a quasi-friendly fellow who commanded respect. A semi-perfect in-and-out-of-the-house cat who thought the front of the sofa was his scratching post.

He did not allow anyone to poach in his back yard either which meant nary a single bird nor red squirrel could be found in his territory.

That is why during the consideration process of the possibility of a new pet, we arrived at the same conclusion. We unanimously agreed, we should not have a marauding feline in our backyard sanctuary creating havoc amongst our migrating flocks and resident doves.

Then we considered a small dog since a big dog doesn’t fit in our lifestyle. The defecate alone gives me the shivers. A small dog, on the other hand, can be barky. Regardless of size, they all need walking, grooming, feeding and of course, again, regardless of size, think they can sit on the couch with us.

And what if they get lonely? Then would we be required to get a second dog to keep the first dog company?

Besides that, we enjoy the bunnies that come bopping over throughout the day. It’s a known fact that dogs like to chase rabbits. Since we agreed our backyard is a wee animal preserve, that means dogs of any size are out.

It so happened that years before I met my husband, I had a pair of green budgies. Parakeets make ideal pets. First of all, they are pretty to look at. Second, they provide hours of amusement. Third, they make happy sounds. Furthermore, when there are two of them in the same cage, they entertain each other. Their favorite perch was in front of the big picture window overlooking the walk along the river berm.

It was even possible to leave them overnight without worry. It only took an extra spot of water and seed and they were set. I also liked that they were portable. Frequently they joined me for longer trips. I’d belt them into the front seat of my Miata convertible, with the top down, and I swear, they thought they were flying. They loved it.

Alas, Buster set them free. They escaped through the same open door that allowed him entry to knock their cage off the desk. We don’t believe for an instant that was his plan. To set them free that is. However, it was that same open door that allowed him to sneak in that happened to be the very same open door which also allowed them to fly out. They escaped into the neighbor’s grapefruit tree never to be seen again.

Buster ended up like most semi-outdoor animals, he eventually went to kitty heaven. Which is why my husband and I got to thinking, maybe we really are too soft hearted to think of getting another pet?

First of all, neither of us can imagine the consequences for an animal that might outlive us.

Or second and possibly worse, how would we soothe our broken hearts should that same pet predecease us? Well then, we’d be in mourning. We reminisced about all of our various pets from past years which added up to a lot between our two families.

We had to ask ourselves why we would wish to set ourselves up for that particular sorrow, especially since we can avoid it.

We even, for a second, considered a fish tank. But, only for a second. That was long enough to dismiss the possibility of 60 gallons of water on our maple hardwood floors.

Therefore, while we miss having an animal around, you know how lovingly they look at you and offer an occasional cuddle, still, we have decided to adopt a pet without the trauma of attachment. As it turns out, it will suit us both very well.

Knowing in advance that we are softies, we agreed to find a pet that will dismiss us without a forethought of attachment or we to it. You will applaud the wisdom of our unanimous decision when you discover the sanity of our choice.

Alas, we have agreed on a solution. Without sorrow or remorse, we have decided to just go for it. What’s that slogan? “Just do it”?

Which is why we have chosen our ideal new pet. It is to be our neighborhood coyote.

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected]


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