Thursday, June 16, 2005

The animal’s story is: fear. And loathing. But not in Las Vegas.

From as early as I can remember, all the women in my family have been frightened of dogs to some degree. I read somewhere (the Journal of Jewish Sociology, or was it the Jewish Journal of Sociology) that it was all to do with cross-generational learned behaviour. Your great grandma told your grandma to be careful of the Poles/Russians/Romanians’ dogs during a pogrom, and then there it was, imprinted onto our emotional DNA forever. I don’t know where the men were.

So, I don’t want any kind of four-legged friend, and don’t quite see the point of floating friends or winged friends, either.

If asked to write a list of animals, all I can come up with is:
  • Dogs smell and shake their fur when they’re wet
  • Cats smell of wee
  • Guinea pigs are rats, basically
  • Dolphins are smart but too big to keep in your house
  • Goldfish may be tolerable, but I don’t quite get it

    What I remember about goldfish and other water-bound pets is that my Mum said we couldn’t have tadpoles at school (because they turn into frogs) and when we did once have goldfish, my Dad on-purpose-by-mistake (we’ll never know, now) let them slip down the drain when he was inexpertly cleaning their house.

    I know, fish don’t live in houses. But that’s the point.

    When I was at school, we were always having charity week and raising money for horse sanctuaries and the PDSA. I didn’t understand that, either. While I wouldn’t want to do any harm to animals – I’m even a vegetarian – I don’t rate them as more important than human beings.

    My boyfriend is always saying that it’s good for children to keep pets because they learn to look after someone else, and it’s a character building experience, and even though I know he’s right, I think he’s wrong. That’s because I can’t bear the thought of some kind of Noah’s Ark in my living room.

    Once, a bird flew in my house. It was summer, early in the morning, and my living room has very high windows and is a fairly light and airy room, and – according the RSPCA person I called up for advice – birds are smarter than you think and usually don’t go in houses because they can see it’s darker.

    Anyway, this bird got truly shit-scared and shat all over my sofas and was desperately trying to fly out by banging itself against a large expanse of glass. Crazy, but I was petrified. Every time I got closer, the bird panicked more. Eventually, I knocked on my neighbour’s door, who knows something from nature and the outdoors, and after a lot of chasing the bird with a tea-towel, managed to get it outside again.

    Because that’s how the world should be – or at least in my world-view – people: inside. Animals: outside. Let’s keep it like that.
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