[row][span size=’8′][slab_h3][slabtext]”I would like to see anyone, [/slabtext][slabtext] prophet, king or God,[/slabtext][slabtext]convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” [/slabtext][slabtext]– Neil Gaiman[/slabtext][/slab_h3][/span][/row]
I have always loved dogs. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t like them. Even when a neighbor’s dog took a bite out of my hand, I still liked all other dogs. (You’d think the bite and the ensuing rabies vaccine series would have made me fear dogs.) However, because of our financial situation growing up I didn’t get to have a lot of dogs. One dog I had died when we were unable to take it to the veterinarian. Another dog ran away.
It was my grandfather who had dogs, and lots of them. He loved his dogs. He fed them meat from the slaughterhouse every evening. That’s one really good memory I have of spending summers with my grandparents in Chihuahua. Grandpa would come home and his dogs would go crazy for him. He’d stand in the backyard, cutting off pieces of meat for the dogs. My aunt had a house cat that ran outside and onto the roof to get his piece there. One time, grandpa threw a piece of meat up at the cat, the cat reached out for it and missed, falling into the pack of dogs on the ground. Poor cat. That probably cost him one life, at least.
When I was in college, my landlord, who lived right next door, had two dogs. He kept them hungry all the time, feeding them only once. He said that it made them more aggressive so they would protect his home. Those two dogs were anything but aggressive. I’d come home late and toss them some scraps. The way their tails wagged made me smile.
After college, I didn’t have any pets at all until I met the woman who’d become my wife. She taught me to love pets by introducing me to her behemoth cat. A few months into our dating, we adopted a little cat. Then I got a fish for my apartment. Once we moved in together, we got a dog. Let me tell you, that dog and the big cat got along famously. I have hidden camera footage of the two of them napping on the couch, one on each side, for hours every day when we were gone. Unfortunately, the big cat passed away from old age.
It was then that we adopted a new cat. We had him for a few months before he passed away from an accident in the unfinished basement. I was out for a run when my wife called me. She was very upset. She found him hanging by his collar on a wire in the basement. The snap-away collar didn’t snap away. It was awful. Ever since, she’s made sure to see all the cats as soon as we get home.
I write “cats” because we eventually got two kittens to give company to the little cat. The two kittens are all grown up now, but only in size. They still think they’re kittens, and they give the little cat a run for her money.
While we were dating, and after the fish died (as fish do), I got a couple of gerbils. When they died (as they do), I got a couple of Guinea Pigs. They sit in my office all day, doing what they do… Which is mostly eating. When I sit at my desk and do stuff, I’ll take one of them out to sit at the desk with me. He’ll look at the monitor or wander around, eating my notes and important documents.
It’s true what my wife said about having pets: They give the most empty home a feeling of being alive. Now that I have these quadrupeds around, I can’t imagine not being in this “pack.” It’s our little family, and it will always be our little family, even if we decide to fill the house with human children as well.
And, now, here are some pictures of our quadrupeds, including three dogs whose picture I took when I traveled to Chihuahua a few weeks ago.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.