Thursday, September 29, 2005


I’ve noticed a Petsmart commercial that referred to pet owners as “pet parents”. Now I know that there’s been an increase in people showering their pets with expensive attention – over-the-top grooming, pet clothes, pet carriers, food/treats, spas, psychics, therapists, etc. Some people have even made mention of folks having pets instead of having children. Do we really need to encourage people to think of their pets as children?

I’m all for treating animals right, but I draw the line at thinking of them as children. Pets are pets; they’re animals, they’re not people. I think that the excessive money spent on pets could be put towards things that I think are more important, like: college scholarships, medical research, charitable agencies, etc. Your dog is still going to love you even if you don’t make it wear a diamond tiara or studded collar.

Most of this is based on how I was raised – we always had pets of different kinds (but mostly dogs and cats), and we treated them lovingly, but we understood that animals were different from people.

Also, I’ve witnessed my own parents getting sucked into the “animals can replace children” idea, and it’s scary. The summer before I went to college they got themselves a puppy, Daisy. Fine, great, she’s cute and they’ll love her. Ever since then my mother has referred to the dog as my “sister” or her “little red-headed girl.” That, my friends, takes things a bit too far. But seeing as how she insists that the dog understands perfect spoken English, this isn’t too far of a stretch for her.

Daisy is a very loving dog, and she was originally purchased to be a hunting dog. My stepdad spent a lot of time with her, teaching her to hunt birds like grouse and pheasants. Unfortunately, has no nose. That means (for those of you not into bird hunting) that she’s not particularly good at sniffing out where the bird has landed in tall grass or brush. She needs to see where it has landed in order to find it. This didn’t deter my stepdad, and he has taken her on many a hunting trip during which the both of them had quite a good time.

This past year the dog has come to be blind. She was diagnosed as having suffered from a dog disorder called SARDS during which, in a matter of 24-48 hours, the dog will go irreversibly blind. This has taken quite a toll on my parents. No more hunting, and having to learn how to care for a blind dog. She can’t play fetch anymore, so she’s gained some weight.

One thing you can’t do is go and change your furniture around all the time. The dog would get confused and probably hurt herself on sharp corners. Some people suggest that owners of blind dogs can attach small pieces of sponge to “landmark” items in the house – wall corners, table legs, chair legs, etc. – and then put a few drops of something odorous on the sponge to “warn” the dog of an obstacle being close by. Well, because the dog relied pretty heavily on her eyes prior to going blind, this little trick isn’t working out so well. She’s still periodically running into things, but she seems generally happy.

Traveling can be fun!

I know I’ve been incommunicado lately, but I want to assure you that I’ve been taking notes and have at least a handful of blog stories for you. Hopefully you’ll find them entertaining. If not, at least find them distracting.

I’ll start at the beginning. In late August I flew home to WI for a family function. Traveling is rarely smooth for me, and I always seem to come out with at least one good story.

I’ll start with a funny observation: I was at the airport here in Cleveland, waiting in the seating area to board my plane. Behind me, across the concourse, is a Cinnabon. I can overhear from where I’m sitting the Cinnabon worker saying loudly (because we all know that foreigners understand better when you speak to them loudly) “You talk good English,” to some young man who looked European. He just kind of shook his head and walked away. Yeah, I think he probably speaks better English than that woman at the Cinnabon. But hey, nice of her to be friendly and encouraging to foreign travelers.

Now keep in mind that I come from a small town in WI. As you can imagine, there’s only a small airport to service the area. We’re actually quite proud if it – it’s up to FOUR gates now. I know you’re jealous. Anyway, this airport has three names, any of which can show up on airport departure screens. One of those names is for the even smaller town that the airport is technically located in, Mosinee (pronounced “moe-sin-ee”).

Because I fly from Cleveland I have to stop in a hub city of some sort (Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, or Minneapolis). This time I was in Chicago. Because I was headed to a small airport, they put me on a small plane. Small planes require you to walk out to them. Sometimes they have someone to lead you to the right plane (often the small planes are herded to one far-flung corner of the airport, and your average observer can’t tell which plane is going where). The woman leads us out amongst the planes, turns to me and asks “You’re going to central Wisconsin, right?”

I said “Yes” and she says “There’s your plane” and points.

Thinking that she certainly didn’t sound 100% confident, I ask the flight attendant when I get on the plane “This is going to central Wisconsin, right?”

He replies, “No, I’m sorry it’s not.”

K: “It’s not going to central Wisconsin?”

FA: “No, I’m sorry, it’s going to Boise.”

K: “Boise? Really?” as I'm thinking there's no way this tiny plane is carrying enough fuel to fly from Chicago to Boise, something is just not right.

Finally one of the flight crew perks up and intervenes “What’re you telling people?”

FA: “That we’re going to Boise.”

FC: “We’re not going to BOISE, we’re going to MOSINEE.”

By this point the passenger behind me had started shooing away the other passengers that had cued up behind him saying “We’re on the wrong plane. This one’s going to IOWA.”

I was surrounded by idiots on all sides.