I’m an animal lover.
That’s not to be confused with the human-hating, anti-leather, fur-destroying, rodeo-bashing vegan lunatics that pretend to like animals but really just enjoy imposing their obnoxious views on a majority that still likes ground cow and deep-fried poultry.
Yes, Pamela Anderson, I’m talking about you.
I love most animals, with the logical exception of those who would like to eat me for breakfast.
(I’ve often wondered where the PETA zealots are hiding when some kid in Florida gets munched on by a creature that will soon become a set of boots and matching handbag. Why don’t we have a group called “People for the Ethical Treatment of People?” For that matter, how about “Alligators for the Ethical Treatment of Humans?”)
In America, we’ve gotten a little bit off kilter when it comes to what constitutes a pet.
Snakes and lizards and big freakin’ spiders have actually made appearances in pet stores as candidates to replace the dog as man’s best friend.
In my humble opinion, these are not pets, and I’ll tell you why.
First, consider the name.
It is also a verb, meaning to gently glide your hand along the back of an animal in a pleasant manner without fear of losing digits.
You can pet a dog. You can theoretically pet a cat, if you can get it to sit still and stop ignoring you long enough.
You can’t pet a lizard.
I had a friend who had an iguana.
He tried to pet it once.
That particular display of affection required three stitches to stop the bleeding and three weeks in a metal cast while the broken finger healed.
My daughter has a friend who loves snakes.
Unfortunately, the snake needs contact lenses, because it frequently mistakes the girl’s fingers for its noontime meal of mouse on the hoof.
Which brings me to another qualifier for the term “pet.”
If your pet requires that you feed it other pets, it isn’t really a pet.
I once had another friend who had an oscar, which is a fish that enjoys eating other fish.
I recall that his oscar had an affinity for French food.
Frog legs, to be exact.
I won’t gross you out with the bloody details, but I can say that you could almost hear the theme from “Jaws” playing in the background when it was feeding time at his house.
I think mice, hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs can qualify as pets, although they are as hard-headed as cats when you call them.
Horses make nice pets, too.
You can pet them, some of them will come when they’re called, and they show loyalty.
Of course, unlike some of the more traditional pets, it’s tough to get your pet horse to sleep at the foot of your bed.
Unless you’re a movie producer with mob ties.
At first glance, it would be fun to have a chimp as a pet.
However, if you’re going to have to contend with putting on a diaper, watching as it makes a mess of your kitchen, and endure endless screaming, howling, and nose picking, you might as well go ahead and have a baby.
Or adopt a teenager.
Another rule is that the critter has to last longer than a CBS sitcom, or two weeks, whichever comes first.
My daughter had fish.
I don’t consider them pets. They’re decorations.
She even named them. I never learned their names, mostly because they weren't around long enough to really establish a relationship.
I’ve heard that turtles make nice pets.
I recommend desert tortoises.
There are two big drawbacks. First, if you decide to take your tortoise for a walk around the block, you better set aside plenty of time.
Like, the entire month of October.
Second, don’t get caught by the BLM police.
Otherwise, YOU’LL be the one in a cage, waiting for someone to feed you something disgusting in a plastic bowl three times a day.