Hay's Daze

Hay’s Daze: We all need a pandemic pet

Is there room in your home for a nice wombat? How about a pet snail? Okay, so that’s a hard “no.”

Right then, would you consider a little weaselly ferret? I know a few folks who have ferrets and have found that they are ferociously fond of friendly ferrets who are known to be finicky and fast.

But if those particular mammalian, marsupial or gastropod creatures aren’t part of your domestic strategy going forward, how about something more, shall we say, normal? You know – dog, cat, parrot – or perhaps all three – a nicely linked food chain?

The reason I’m asking you all of these questions is on account of the fact that I’ve noticed anecdotally as well a media-ally that the current damn-demic that refuses to go away has resulted in a significant increase in people acquiring pets. Yes, adopting, purchasing or borrowing everything from pet snails to rescued wombats have become a big part of the way many people are dealing with the isolation, loneliness and general lack of contact with fellow bipedal human people brought on by the fact that most of us are hunkered down inside wearing sweatpants, drinking too much coffee and searing the image of TV and computer screens into our red and watery eyeballs. I know I am.

I’ve had a dog in my life my entire life (and I mean the canis familiaris kind) and in all that time, which has been quite a long time, I’ve only had one cat. In fact, just before we became pathetically pet-less we had two dogs and that one cat, living with contentedly each other in a state of begrudging acceptance and then within a couple of short years each one of them got old and left us all alone.

The last of our beloved four-legged canine lick-machines shed this mortal coil a few years ago and somehow we did a complete 180.

We knew only too well how much an animal in your life improves your quality of life, your blood pressure, your sense of humour, and your ability to swear when you step on potty in your bare feet in the back yard. So, as I may have mentioned a time or two, “we” a couple of years ago “we” did that 180 and got a cat instead of a dog. And by “we” I mean the B.H. brought home a rescue creature which turned out to not be a dog. And having a full-time solitary cat is, I found out very quickly, a very different animal indeed.

But here’s the thing: having a pet really does make a big difference in the “how can I make life suck a lot less” category. Even if the pet is a rescue cat more or less imposed on a certified card-carrying dog lover. So I guess I’m living proof.

Our calico cat, Chicklet, is my case in point. Before she plopped her bulbous fluff-ball feline-inity into my life I hardly ever spoke to cats. Now I talk to her all the time, and you would be very embarrassed for me if you ever heard me. There something quite pathetic about a grown man talking baby talk to a cat who is basically ignoring him.

I am not making this up. I have a few nicknames for her. I call her Chunk, Chunklet, Chubb, Chubblet, Chocolate Chubb, Skunk, Skunkaroo, and (still not making this up) Squinch, Wiggler, Little Precious, Bootiful cat, Weirdo, and Dumbcat. Solid proof that any pet either brightens your life, or makes you go completely insane.

And we are still thinking about getting a dog. It must be the pandemic.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Send him a column idea to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.