One of the things I've had to get used to in my marriage is having a pet in the house. I know this draws the ire of animal lovers, but I don't like having cats, dogs, pigs, snakes, rats, ferrets, squirrels or hippopotamuses in the house -- even if it's what you want for Christmas.
I can tolerate a few critters in the house -- such as fish, parakeets and pet rocks -- so long as they don't make too much noise, shed or smell funky.
But my wife adopted a cat long before she acquired me, so her loudmouthed, hair-shedding cat Sadie gets to stay inside. I suggested we get a cat door, but Sadie has been declawed and is scared of a butterfly, so I was overruled.
In the past couple of years, I've learned to put up my clothes as soon as possible unless I want them to look like a sweater made of cat hair. I've learned that my head is a perfectly acceptable landing pad at 3 a.m. when Sadie decides to jump in bed. And I've learned that "Meow. Meow. ME-ow. ME-OW. MEOW! MEOW!!!" can either mean absolutely nothing, that she'd like a bite to eat or Timmy's trapped in the well again. You never know. Sadie's a bit of a drama queen.
But Sadie has nothing on Stella, my stepdaughter's now 1-year-old English bulldog puppy -- yes, an English bulldog just like Uga. In fact, she's supposedly from Uga's bloodline. Although, I think everyone who has an English bulldog says that. You can get "official" doggie documentation pretty easily. I once had a wiener dog that was a direct descendant of Oscar Mayer.
Stella is a puppy at heart. In body, she's an elephant. That's fine, except Stella is an indoor dog. I thought the only indoor dogs were those yappy little runts that go into hyperactive barking fits every time the doorbell rings, the kind that are small and furry and make great dusters.
Last week, we were invited to the indoor elephant's house to celebrate Stella's first birthday -- complete with a bone-shaped, peanut butter-flavored cake, party hats, banners and presents. Wrapped presents. We even sang the happy birthday song to Stella, who heard, "Blah, blah, blah, Stella!" I'm just glad we didn't
jump out and yell "SURPRISE!" because that's not something you should do to a giant bulldog if you'd like to keep all 10 fingers.
I had a bulldog when I was a kid. At least, I think it was an English bulldog. It had bad teeth and thought Benny Hill was hilarious. We even named it Ben. But I'm pretty sure we never had a birthday for him, and I know my dad wouldn't let Ben in the house. We were lucky if dad let us kids in the house.
Ben loved being outside. He'd do typical outdoor doggie stuff -- playing fetch, rolling around in the grass and tearing stuff up, such as old tires and my cousin's pet rabbit across the street. When I saw my Uncle Johnny chasing Ben after the attack, I swear I heard Benny Hill's theme music in the background.
Personally, I don't think Stella would have been all that offended if we'd have not gotten her anything for her birthday. After all, she didn't get me anything for my birthday or even put the obligatory "happy birthday" post on my Facebook page.
However, when I pick out the next pet at our house, I will throw it a birthday party every year. And it'll be a surprise party because I'm pretty sure my pet rock will be able to handle the excitement.
-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.