Friday, March 22, 2013

Animal Husbandry

Another thing I thought I would do at some point after I retired was get a dog.  Up until 2004, when my last dog went to doggy heaven, I always had a dog - and a cat.  My last two dogs were wonderful companions and lived to be 12 years old. I fed them basic dog food, trained them to  sit, stay and come (sort of). Gave them their shots and brushed their teeth myself.  Took them backpacking and hiking with me.  And attended to emergencies (like when one of them got too intimate with a huge bull while we were hiking and ended up with a 3” by 3” skin-flap-wound right through to the muscle. Fun times.) But that was pretty much it.

Now there are so many expectations to dog ownership. (Note I didn't say “parenthood”. I just can't go there. Those of you who see that differently, please do not report me to the ASPCA.)  Now you practically have to put them on a list to get them into a good doggy preschool and, as a recently-viewed pet food commercial opined: attend to their needs - physical, emotion, social (and one other need I can’t remember  - maybe spiritual - we’re not far from that folks). Although I did refer to my dogs as Canine-Americans, I just can’t live up to current expectations.  Plus, and probably most important, I don't know how much traveling I'm going to be doing as an ongoing thing, so the timing is just not right.

So I'm thinking about these things when I see a little ad about a desert tortoise adoption program. Eureka! I think. Just at my skill and commitment level, I think. When I was working, I assisted with collaboration on the recovery of the Mojave population of the desert tortoise and learned a lot about them.  I’ve run into a few out there in the natural world and marveled at their ability to survive on so little.  So I go online to check out the details. And find that there are six steps to the requirements, including numerous yard modifications -  not to mention the things you are supposed to grow for them to eat (yes, store-bought produce is inferior for these guys). I don’t put that much effort into feeding myself. And my frontscape re-do (to create habitat pleasing to me) is yet to get underway. Geeez, I think. I don't even measure up for a tortoise.

So I guess I’ll be leaving the animal husbandry to the 4H-ers for now. I wonder how long one can wait to get a pet to reap the live-longer benefits that supposedly flow from pet ownership? At some point, it is just a little too late. I’ve got awhile before I get there though. I think.

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