Are you an animal person?
Technically, you are.
If you’re a human being you’re an animal, and if you’re a human being you’re also a person.
However, I’m an “animal person” in the sense that I have a real fondness for non-human animals and want them to be a major part of my life. Right now I’m the co-caregiver to a Sheltie named Charlie and two shelter cats, Thor and Bane.
But before I get to them, a bit of background.
I spent much of my youth as primarily a “dog person,” not so much by choice as by situation.
My parents – and I have since forgiven them for this – weren’t keen on having critters, but they most certainly didn’t want me to have a cat. My mother had a weird aversion to felines, and even repeated that apocryphal story about cats “sucking the breath out of babies.”
So on the off chance a baby showed up at our house, we had to make sure we didn’t have a cat around to take its breath away.
What the cat planned to do with the baby’s breath was never explained, although I understand it looks great in bouquets.
Anyway, they didn’t mind too much that I had a dog, as long as he stayed outside.
My first dog was Ringo, named after Ringo Starr. He was a big ol’ tan-and-black mutt (and serviceable drummer), but he was not allowed in the house.
And he never came in the house … as far as my folks knew.
While his primary residence was a doghouse in the backyard, I would often sneak him into the basement and sometimes – late at night – take him up to my room and let him sleep at the foot of the bed.
Who was a good dog?
Ringo was a good dog.
But as I grew up and grew older, I wanted to make animals equal partners in my world. That meant if I had a roof over my head, they had a roof over their heads.
And since I had no babies laying around with breath to be sucked out of their systems, I have had many a cat in my domicile over the years.
There have been boy cats and girl cats living in harmony with boy dogs and girl dogs, and every time any one of them crosses the Rainbow Bridge, it breaks my heart.
None of them can ever be replaced, but I believe it’s important to go to a shelter and rescue another if you’re willing and able to do so.
So that’s what my wife and I do and that means, for now, she has to deal with four boys (including myself).
Bane, our youngest cat, is nine months old and is starting to give off a Maine Coon vibe.
When we got him from the shelter I could hold him in my hand, and at night I’d take him to bed and he’d curl up under my chin.
Now he’s this gargantuan creature who has no regard for my personal space, spending a good portion of the evening plopped across my chest and purring so loudly he sounds like he should be racing at Daytona.
He’s also quite the shedder. You can’t wear black clothes around Bane because if you do, you’ll quickly look like a Sasquatch.
Thor, a 3-year old orange tabby, purrs very softly.
He also has a bad habit of attacking my butt for no apparent reason.
Used to when I would come home from work late at night, he would greet me first by rolling over for a belly rub and then – when I turned away – leap up and turn my chunky cheeks into his own personal scratching post.
If you should ever welcome me into your home or office and ask me to sit down, know that if I refuse I’m not being rude. It just means my tush has been mauled.
And just to be clear, Thor attacks my butt through my pants. I don’t walk around the house like Winnie The Pooh.
And Charlie? I don’t know if there’s ever been a sweeter dog.
He joyfully plays with his kitty bros, loves to go for walks, and sometimes just wants to squeeze up next to me when I watch TV. He’s the world’s youngest 10-year old canine.
About the only negative thing I can say about him is he has a tendency to raid the litter box for treats.
But it’s not my place to judge. If I was a dog, I’d probably do the same thing. I mean, what the hell?
But I’ll gladly choose lack of sleep, mangled buttocks and having a dog who walks around with a cat litter mustache over living in a house without animals.
The way I see it, we’re all part of one big animal family.
These are my people, even if they aren’t technically people.