June 17, 2011
A friend called me from Moscow, and let me know in a dejected voice that Angelina Did That Again.
Angelina is my friend’s beloved bichon frise dog.
This friend turned sixty three years ago. She decided to mark that occasion by selling her business and getting Angelina. Since that day, there was one more creature in the world who is worshiped unconditionally. Angelina lives in a magical world that many bipedal creatures would love to live in. This little dog gets taken on all kinds of trips – wherever her owner goes - and is fed the most delicious things. Admittedly, Angelina almost always behaves herself, save for one weakness – she likes drinking from the toilet. Her creative approach to reaching her goal is unrivaled. Since, at my friend’s house, the toilet seats have special locks, which are usually installed for child safety, Angelina finds her way to her guilty pleasure in other places – like hotel rooms, other people’s houses, and once even in a beach bathroom.
Since the dog is relatively small, sometimes she perches on the toilet seat, loses her balance, and falls into the bowl. My friend can tell elaborate stories of how – depending on the design of the toilet – Angelina can either climb out of it herself (and proceed towards her owner dripping with toilet water), or she needs to be taken out. Luckily, Angelina is at least clever enough to start whimpering if the latter thing happens.
Having finished her story about the latest embarrassing toilet adventure, my friend said “How can she do this to me?”
This story triggered another animal memory – my husband’s colleague had a cat named James. When we first met him, that colleague wasn’t married, and James was the main companion of his life. Everybody in the office knew about James’s adventures, as well as his daily schedule and food preferences. One time, we were invited to visit those two bachelors in their home. In the kitchen, I found a lineup of several bowls on the floor. One had water; another had goat (!) milk; the third one had dry cat food; the fourth one had a different type of cat food; and the final one had some manner of seafood. I tried to make a joke about how one bowl was missing – one containing a martini, “Shaken, not stirred.” The man responded with “James prefers a sober lifestyle.”
Despite being so privileged in regards to food that he could easily forget about the natural food chain, James was quite an action-loving outdoor cat. He was allowed to roam the neighborhood, and, a couple of times, he returned home with some injuries, having gotten in fights with other animals.
When my husband’s colleague found a girlfriend, James received her company with suspicion, but, having understood that she was there to stay, he brought her a thoughtful gift one night – half a mouse. He left the offering on her pillow in the dark. Then he decided that a half was still rather too big, and started to gnaw on it loudly.
The colleague asked my husband the same question that my friend asked about her dog – “How could he do this? He’s got an entire kitchen full of fresh food.”
This is where I wonder – why do we expect our pets to act like human beings all the time? And why do we attribute human emotions to them?
Yes, they love us, and they are often devoted to us. But they do that in their own way. If we respect our pets, we should remember that they come from somewhat of a different realm – the kingdom of animals.
These pictures are from Saint Martin, Moscow, Tarusa, Thessaloniki, Paris, Toronto.
Have a lovely weekend!