April 1st through May the 6th is officially recognized as National Pet Month across the United States. This month has been designated to celebrate the joys of pet ownership as well as cultivating the relationship you have with Fido, Muffy and Spot.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 62 percent of all American households have at least one pet. 86.4 million people own cats and 78.2 of us own dogs. However, there seems to be an ever-growing sector of the population that prefers the unorthodox, the weird and even the gross when it comes to a family pet.
Remember as a child when you would run around the yard at midnight trapping lightning bugs in a mason jar and all the “cool” kids would call you a dork? Well apparently, according to Animal Planet, insects have become the “cool pet” of all young school-aged children.
Stick insects, like the Praying Mantis, are the number one favorite of all the love bugs, with the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach coming in at number two. Experts claim that these little bundles of love are highly educational and foster curiosity in young developing minds. And parents should appreciate them for the low level of maintenance involved in disposing of them when their child finally loses interest.
Rated the number one controversial pet preferred by the upper crust of society today is the miniature donkey. These adorable little creatures stand about three feet tall when fully mature and weigh in at 200 to 300 pounds. According to animal experts, these precious little poop factories can be house trained, if that is something you might actually consider doing. In any case, they are a wonderful source of fertilizer for your neighbor’s back yard.
Since the Sonic the Hedgehog video franchise started over 20 years ago, Hedgehogs have become a popular pet for those who like to party all night and sleep all day. Hedgehogs look like miniature porcupines, but they are actually no relation at all. They love the night life and will party with you until the crack of dawn. But a word of caution here—lock the liquor cabinet. Hedgehogs love to drink and are notoriously mean drunks!
Gaining immense popularity back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the pot-bellied pig is still a much desired pet across the nation. Actor George Clooney had a pet pig for over 18 years and claimed it was the best pet any man could ever have. Nowadays he has a girlfriend. Good for you, George.
But Winston Churchill probably said it best—”Dogs look up to you, cats look down upon you, but pigs will always treat you as an equal.”
Pot-bellied pigs are said to be the 4th most intelligent species on earth after humans, primates and dolphins. They generally have very pleasant dispositions but are lacking in most of the social graces. And speaking of lacking in most of the social graces, the DNR has included these cuddly creatures on their list of feral invasive species of pigs. So beware—in certain situations, the joys of owning Miss Piggy might bring with it unexpected fines and possible incarceration.
Also popular are the scaly little creatures called Geccos. These rascally little reptiles have nearly 1,500 species altogether and are usually the happiest in warmer climates. However, more and more people are trekking to PetSmart to shell out up to $200 to own one of these curious little status symbols. If I’m going to pay $200 for a lizard, it better be one of those talking ones . And, if it wasn’t for all those annoying insurance commercials on TV, most Geccos would still be living in the hot Mexican desert where they belong.
Myself, I’ve never been the adventurous type when it comes to pets. Exotic rats, snakes and monkeys do not thrill me whatsoever. I’ll take a scroungy old cat or a mangey old dog any old day. As a matter of fact, a few months ago we traded in the kids for the most adorable little black, curly-haired Miniature Poodle you’ve ever seen. Her name is Miss Millie and she has quickly become the love of our lives.
The only problem I have found with cats and dogs, or any pet for that matter, is that they won’t live forever…………and that is often a very hard pill to swallow.
But for now, I’ll just enjoy Miss Millie and all of her little antics and treat every moment with her like it was my last.