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By Staff | Nov 8, 2013

At times it seems to me that the only reason we humans were put on earth is to provide luxurious lives for our pets.

Although I guess the proper term nowadays is companion animals, which to my ear sounds overly luxurious. I can’t get past the animal part of that equation.

We have a few chickens running around our place. One day I was raking the lawn as our clutch of hens trailed me. My wife saw this and said, “Those chickens adore you. They follow you wherever you go.”

“The reason they’re following me is they see me as a food source. I’m uncovering bugs and the chickens are going, ‘Woo-hoo. Smorgasbord.'”

“No, I think they really like you. I can tell by the way they look at you.”

I glanced at the herd of birds.

“I think they’re looking at me in a way that says, ‘If you fall and can’t get up, we will eat your spleen.'”

This is just one of the many reasons the chickens don’t get to stay in the house. Besides, I was raised on a farm where people live in houses and animals live outside.

No exceptions.

Except if a baby calf got sick in the wintertime or we needed a warm space to brood baby chicks. But other than that, no animals in the house.

I wish I could get that message through to our golden retriever, Sandy, and our cat, Sparkles.

The dog always comes along when I take my daily constitutional. Which is fine, as there have been reports of cougars (the four-legged kind, that is) in the area.

It’s comforting to know that Sandy could serve as an early mountain lion detection system by making a beeline for home as soon as he espied the wildcat.

Heroics are not his thing.

Sparkles thinks she needs to be part of the team whenever we go for walks. The trouble is, she has short legs and can’t keep up.

She follows us until she falls well behind, at which point she begins to meow like her little heart is breaking.

I have tried telling her that she should simply stay home. And besides, she wouldn’t be very effective in the early mountain lion warning department.

A cougar would likely see her as a quick appetizer prior to the main course – me.

But Sparkles never listens and will yowl piteously until I pick her up and carry her the rest of the way.

And yes, the question of who is training whom has occurred numerous times.

When we get back to the house, the dog and the cat both try to follow me inside. The cat has actually managed to sneak in a few times when I was distracted by the dog.

I don’t think it’s fair when they double-team me like that.

I turned around to find the cat checking out our house with an attitude that seemed to say, “Yes, this will do nicely. I call dibs on the recliner.”

That was bad enough, but she also began to gaze longingly at the TV remote. You can take my recliner, but keep your paws off the remote.

Out, cat. Go catch some mice.

I realize that there are many people who take the companion part very seriously and treat their pets like members of their families.

Our neighbors Al and Lorraine were prime examples of such folks.

Al and Lorraine had a Sheltie named Brownie. Unable to have children of their own, Al and Lorraine focused their nurturing energies on their pooch.

To say that Brownie was spoiled would be like stating that jumping into a lake might make you wet. Brownie lived in the farmhouse full time, only venturing out into Nature when nature called.

I was asked to look after Brownie when Al and Lorraine went on a weeklong vacation. Just before they left, Lorraine took me to their freezer and pointed to a stack of foil-covered plates.

“Give one of these to Brownie every day,” she instructed, “And warm it up first.”

Each plate held a generous portion of roasted beef.

Not surprisingly, Brownie grew quite stout, so Lorraine began to buy diet dog food.

“I don’t understand why Brownie doesn’t lose weight,” said Lorraine one day as she examined a can of canine lean cuisine.

I glanced at Al. He winked at me as he snuck a cookie under the table to Brownie.

If I get reincarnated, I want to come back to the earth as Al and Lorraine’s dog. It would be nice to see what it’s like to live in true luxury.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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