Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Breed Apart

I consider myself an animal lover, and I think most people I know would say the same of themselves. But there are folks who spoil their pets, and then there are animal people.

A friend recently recalled a riding instructor who had a man's name but was a woman, "an astonishingly vulgar one, probably because of her name."
She walked around drunk and barefoot, with glass water bottles filled with gin or something. She once told me--a thirteen-year-old girl--that she rode a horse naked and "shat hairy for a week." My sister later became friends with her daughter, and discovered what a squalid life they led, living out of a truck and eating nothing but peanut butter for weeks.
Another friend mentioned her cats' "bizarre" breeder:
Her husband bred racing pigeons that flew to Indiana and back - the real question to me was how did they know where to go? And they had a dog with Cushings Disease and he smelled awful and a retarded sister looming and appearing out of nowhere to freak me out.
We got Devo from Whippet Rescue, where he was being fostered by a breeder. Her suburban ranch house looked completely ordinary ... until you stepped through the door.

With no children in the picture, it was all about the animals, of which there was an astounding variety. Functionality trumped aesthetics: in the family room, a length of flexible metal fencing was bolted to the wall to restrict the flow of critters. One bedroom had been given over to the cats. The door was closed, but it had a flap inset so the kitties could escape other species as they pleased. Next door was the reptile room, full of slithery things in glass tanks. The breeder noted proudly that a pair of her exotic lizards had recently reproduced, apparently a rare occurrence in captivity. Oddly, Devo was the only dog we saw, though she said she had four whippets of her own.

My favorite exhibit was on prominent display in the living room: an aquarium crawling with huge Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Mistaking my horror for interest, the chatelaine reached in, pulled one out, and stroked it until it lived up to its name.


Peg said...

You have to see the PBS piece on the Newshour tonight about spider silk...very cool very creepy! Think the whole thing is on Nova.

The Awakened said...

oh my god, how absolutely revolting, poor Devo!