A friend dialed me up for some advice recently. Normally, I’d take the fifth on such a daunting prospect but since it was about pets and not romance, I played along.
Which pet is best for a five year old? She asked.
My stock answer is the zoo. I decided against common sense since her and her husband are first time parents. They are earnest when it comes to their parental duties. I’ve read about people like this.
So they made a project out of this pet question.
Tons of internet research. Interviews with pet/child owners. They even performed weekly field tests at the park. What can I say? They’re an adorable duo.
I started off with the “Never in a million years” bag. Namely reptiles. I don’t believe there is an appropriate age for owning a reptile. Anything that sheds skin and eats live creatures for sustenance shouldn’t be a pet. I’ve devoted my life to keeping these things out of my home, why would I invite them in the front door?
Rule Number One: If your pet eats other pets, it’s probably not a good idea to own it. Can you imagine if dogs relied on this? It’d be the Roman Coliseums Redux.
“She loves geckos”, was her response. I told her to send a nasty letter to Geico and move on. When my daughter was around the same age, she wanted a gecko. I broke it to her gently with “Not a chance.” Little kids don’t have the patience to read between lines, after all.
Rule Number Two: If your pet can get lost inside the house, it’s not a good thing. Imagine this mobile rubber band scampering in the shadows, growing angrier by the minute at its inhospitable master . . no thanks.
Bunny rabbits, hamsters and ferrets were on their list. To which I replied, “Fuhgeddaboudit!” in my best Flatbush Ave. Why no? Rabbits eat everything, hamsters die a most inelegant death and ferrets slither (see above).
I mentioned fish as a ‘starter kit’, but they wanted fur and all the headaches that come with it.
Rule Number Three: Fish are a wonderful educational tool for children. They teach them that life is short and then you get flushed down the toilet.
Cats and Dogs?
This was my wheelhouse. I can stand on my own hind legs from here and administer a righteous dose of advice without feeling guilty of cynicism. This couple is happy sunshine folk, and I am the clouds of Ben Nevis.
I love cats. But as a first pet, I cannot recommend one. Cats are antithetical to the totalitarian regime of Mom and Dad. These cool creatures are passive aggressive descendants of Sun Tzu, who will teach this little girl to plunder the rule of boys. Since this would take all of thirty seconds, she will then advance her rebellion on the ruling party.
Why speed up that process when a dog’s most brilliant stratagem is forgotten in the time it takes him to chase his tail?
I am happy to report, they’re going with a boxer.