In honor of Love Your Pet Day, we asked ourselves what it is with the unconditional love and eagerness to make sacrifices for our beloved pets. And while we’re add it, provide inspiration for custom clothing that fits your pet to its fur, feather, or snake’s skin?
If we’re honest, sharing a life with what some may call our best friends isn’t always a complete walk in the park. An essayistic survey in our editorial room reveals a somewhat more differentiated picture.
Ralf and Paddy, the parrot
His name was Paddy. Paddy the parrot. Paddy didn’t like me. Paddy liked grandma. In fact, Paddy didn’t like anyone but grandma. When I was eight years old, I wanted to make friends with him. I didn’t like that every time I got near his cage, he’d get all hostile and combative. Like flapping wildly with his wings, hacking at the bars closest to me, and screeching like a mad bird. So, one day I made a plan. The idea of befriending Paddy in the open entered my mind. I would just open the door, give him the freedom of the living room, and we’d become pals. For life!
When I opened the door to his cage, I turned on my heel, and walked towards the couch. I’d just sit down, and let Paddy decide when he’s ready to make friends. I remember being pretty proud of my pacifist approach, when I was being attacked halfway to the couch. Paddy dug his claws into my scalp, started pulling my hair, and hacking away at my forehead. I remember being in complete shock, screaming for my life, and darting off to the kitchen. There, grandma looked up from peeling her potatoes, absolutely startled. And I remember getting three helpings for dessert in return for promising not to tell my mum.
Olivia and Princess, the snake
As a kid, the question of how snakes got around without legs was one of life’s biggest mysteries. When I was eight years old, I adopted my first snake. Nothing exotic, like a green python. Nothing venomous, like a cottonmouth. Nothing too simple, like a harmless garter from the backyard. Like all of the snake keeping pet books recommended, I chose a corn snake. And named her Princess. I imagined Princess would rapidly grow to six feet long. That very soon she would come everywhere with me, draped over my shoulders. Unfortunately, while mysterious, a snake is not much of a pet. A baby snake does not offer much shock value at show and tell. They only eat frozen mice twice a week. They spend most of their lives semi-cocooned, while shedding their skin. If you’re looking for a legless pet, I would try a goldfish.
Oskar (12) and Toffee & Star, the guineapigs
I got my two guinea pigs when I was 9. Actually I wanted to call them Samuel and Samurai, but mum and my friend Tilman thought that was stupid. So we called them Toffe and Star. In the beginning they lived in the garden. They had a two-story barn, but they were too scared to run upstairs. So Tilman and I taught them. We lured them with carrots to show them the way and sometimes nudged them in the right direction until they reached their destination. Later, Toffee and Star had to move into my room because the fox was in the garden. He scratched at the hutch at night and dug tunnels and once almost ate them. In my room they were comfortable under my bunk bed. I took them out every night and petted them, always taking turns so no one would get jealous. The cutest thing I thought was when they yawned. That looks soooo cute with their little mouths and the long front teeth! It was also funny when they fought over food. Sometimes they acted like little rockers with leather jackets, scaring each other so they could have the whole bowl full of carrots for themselves.
Sansi and Booboo, the tomcat
A lot has been said about cats and their owners. And it’s all true! Unlike dogs, those whimsical four-legged fluffballs are more than just cute and clumsy. In spite of themselves, the fun you have with them is caused by a complete clash of expectations.
The cat in question is called Booboo. He’s soft to the touch, graceful, and born to cuddle. At least that’s how I see it. Booboo, on the other hand, does not cuddle, he just lays down wherever there’s a laptop, a book, or the spot where I want to put my pizza. Booboo also doesn’t want to be petted unduly, and he’ll let you know by dealing out blows. I understand – his body, his prerogative. Booboo, however, won’t treat me with the same respect. At 4 a.m., I wake up with a start and see him staring into my face, only for him to jump on cupboards to chase a paper clip. You can never tell what he’s up to. He’ll miraculously pop up right between my feet, make me tumble, or treat my calves like prey. I can’t say I’m too fond of that – I just want to traverse my flat unharmed. So I ordered him an expensive cat tree, but Booboo only showed an interest in the box it came in. He’s incredibly picky when it comes to food as well, the little cherry picker. Will I ever do right by him? I’ll be sure to keep trying every day.
Jasmin and Bello & Friedel
Our first animal was a snow-white rabbit with red eyes. Then Bello the husky came along. One day the rabbit escaped from his cage outside, and Bello chased him across the field. Which had my uncle chase after Bello.
Fortunately, my uncle’s sound hunting skills saw him catch up with Bello before he could grab Friedel. But since Bello’s animal instincts could no longer be denied, we gave the bunny to my cousin. For safety reasons. A few weeks late, he fell from the balcony and died.
Later a small pair of hamsters moved in with us, and I shared my room with them. Then Nico the tomcat joined them. The hamsters escaped. When I came home from school, I found only one hamster under the bed – and a blood stain on my carpet. Nico the tomcat had eaten number two. My cat died a little later while trying to cross a federal highway. Now I don’t have pets anymore and have quit eating meat. And I believe in karma.