Sunday, April 13, 2008

Doggedly determined

In the two weeks since we had to say goodbye to our pet ferret, my wife Kara and I have confirmed beyond a doubt what we already suspected to be true: being petless is not for us.

You know who cares when we come home from work now? Nobody, unless you count us, and maybe the electric company. They probably appreciate it when we flip a few lights on, but, if we’re being honest about it, the phone company is a much better companion, if only because it’s running out of friends so quickly.

Of course, our parents might argue that human children would probably care when we came home, but that argument doesn’t really hold because you can’t leave your children at home alone in the first place, or they’ll have their friends over to drink all the beer in your garage, and you won’t find out about it until you move a couch to vacuum three months later and you find a bottle cap on the carpet underneath. At least that’s how it worked in my house.

So we’ve been preparing for canine companionship in the most responsible way we know how, which is, of course, to read a copy of “Dogs for Dummies.” This country might be facing troubled times due to the credit crunch, but we are in absolutely no danger of an impending dummy crunch. Our dummies are numerous. They’re also, surprisingly, voracious readers, requiring crate loads of big yellow books to explain the world to them. And by them I mean us.

There doesn’t appear to be a conceivable topic that doesn’t have a corresponding “for Dummies” book. Just browsing for the appropriate book on dogs, I saw titles on the following subjects: Annuities, Catholicism, Search Engine Optimization, RV Vacations, Fibromyalgia, Forensics and 70’s Soul Music. I wasted an entire afternoon in the book store learning how to teach my hypothetical dog to Get Up Offa That Thing before I realized I was reading the wrong volume.

As we prepare our house for the slobbering behemoth-to-be that we shall shortly invite, I’m tempted to reflect on why exactly we are planning to do this to ourselves. Perhaps it’s because the house just somehow doesn’t seem in balance when there’s nobody around to trash the place but us.

We’re proceeding into this whole idea cautiously, knowing full well that while pets can freely offer their love and affection, that love and affection usually comes bundled in a package that will most likely find a way to destroy your couch at some point.

A friend of mine from work once had a twenty-pound bunny as a pet. Before she told me that, I had no idea that bunnies could grow to be that size without first being Thanksgiving turkeys. This gigantic bunny had an unfortunate taste for electrical wires, and no amount of bitter apple spray could dissuade him from gnoshing on them.

With random appliances throughout the house ceasing to function, my friend was at the end of her cord. She called her mom in tears, looking for some support.

“This rabbit is driving me insane! He’s chewing on all the cords in the house, and I don’t know how to stop him. I think I’m going to lose my…Mom, are you there? Hello?”

She looked down to see her rabbit chewing on the phone cord, with two newly created ends falling out of his mouth. I didn’t think bunnies with that kind of destructive capacity existed outside of Monty Python movies.

Even though animals can make our lives so much more difficult, we’ll keep letting them stay with us because, in our collective heart of hearts, we’re just not that smart. I may catch on eventually, but first, it’s time to find a puppy.

You can housebreak Mike Todd at


  1. Maybe the bunny thought the phone had BUGS.

    Hmmm. Methinks I need to go buy "Corny Jokes For Dummies".

  2. Awww, Mikey, I'm so proud that you and Kara are getting a DAWG!! How cool is that? From there it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to a REAL LIVE baby person!!

    My little Mikey is growing up.... How'd that happen?

  3. JL -- That was some excellent corn, man. Did you mean buy or write? If you write it, you've got at least one guaranteed sale.

    Miss Anne -- Thanks dude! We actually just adopted a badass pooch yesterday, but the column about it won't show up here for a couple of weeks, mostly because I haven't written it yet. I'm F'ing tired.

  4. Oh, congrats on the new addition to the family! And I hear ya about the ease of dogs vs. the ease of kids. I've heard it's really not cool to leave your kids gated in the kitchen while you go to work for the day... even if you leave a bunch of Nylabones scattered around. Who knew?!?

  5. Kat -- Ha! I'm surprised to hear that about the Nylabones. I figured a kid could gnaw on one of those things for hours, especially if they didn't have teeth yet.