234 Comments

I'm done with any exotic pets. My goat herd was doing a magnificent job of clearing my parents' old farm, but being goats, after all, they were not very good at protecting themselves from predators. So at the stock auction I bought two llamas, which were reputed to just Hate canines of any sort. Sure enough, the two of them posted themselves on the hillsides overlooking the pasture. Soon my niece's dog showed up for her favorite pastime of chasing my goats. I watched with satisfaction as Black and Brown (their colors) dropped their heads about three inches from the ground, and taking a bead, proceeded to put the yelping dog through the electric fence. Backward. So far, so good.

I was slowly renovating the old Home Place, and during cold winter days, with nothing else to do, I would wander out to the pastures and piece by piece slowly remove the old barbed-wire fence. It was a snowy evening, near dark, and deathly still, yet I had the sensation that I was being watched. I turned my head slightly to the right, only to find a llama's lips about two inches from mine. Scared hell out of me. He let out a llama-squeal and bounded away like a furry pogo stick, squealing with delight. The sonofabitch had sneaked up on me and was watching over my shoulder: "What'cha doing, Bud?" Don't tell me animals don't have a sense of humor.

After I sold the goats, the llamas remained. Unfortunately both were males and - bored, I guess - took to fighting. Llamas fight funny; they try to bite each others' knees, kneeling on the ground to protect their own, squealing in the most ungodly way. I finally sold one of them, but he was constantly in trouble. He was supposed to protect the lady's sheep, but she kept finding the sheep dead. One day she discovered the problem: Red was trying to breed with the sheep, and since he was thrice their weights, kept smothering them. Oh well, my old buddy Tom's dad used to say that if sheep could cook .... maybe my llama felt the same way.

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My 14-year dog, Cheetos, was killed by another dog on our reservation in 1989. If you know the TV series, Reservation Dogs, then you should know its title is a long-standing cultural term in Native culture. Life on the rez is incredibly hard for dogs. So it's a miracle my dog lived to be 14. In any case, my dog PTSD prevented me from owning another dog until 2014 long after I became an urban Indian. So I went a quarter-century between dogs. And when our little Darla heads off to the eternal dog park, I very much doubt I'll get another. Yeah, my love for dogs is so intense that my grief buries me. At the end of my days, my Indian name will be Two Dog Sherman.

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I just re-homed my dog to a huge farm. I’m glad it worked out well for the dog to go to a good place. No more for me.

I think this country has lost its mind over pets. I was raised on a ranch so I have a considerable distinction between humans and animals-- one that I am grateful for. I believe humans have dominion over animals. 100%

Our society for years has confused pets for other family members. I do not think it is good. It’s another slippery slope....some people call their pets “fur babies” and walk them in strollers. And I have heard (not verified) that Spain allows people to marry their pets. No, no and no! That is a slippery slope. I say best to keep a solid line between humans and animals.

I am sure this will be an unpopular opinion, but I stick to it.

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As a long time animal rescuer, I tend to have a higher opinion of animals than people, but I enjoyed reading this! I can appreciate a twisted sense of humor. I suggest that Ben Kawaller should meet a few cats. I know several people who claimed they didn't like animals until a special feline stole their hearts. Now they are regular softies. I think cats general DGAF attitude may appeal to him.

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Apr 29, 2023·edited May 10, 2023

Other than TGIF, I have not come to expect levity from the FP. I almost spit my coffee out laughing this morning! Here is one faithful reader’s vote to keep it up!

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I spit up my coffee at several moments. My wife came down to see what all the early morning chuckles were about. I shared with her this piece. “This writer is a monster, and so are you.” Thanks Ben. And I predict you may have split many more couples in two this morning. While I wish I could apply the spirit of the Free Press here and have a discussion, I promise you it’s not happening on this subject. For these moments, I happily assume the chuckling monster relegated to the doghouse. (Is this an obsolete phrase nowadays?)

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Lock your dog and your wife in the trunk and drive around for 30 minutes. Guess which one will be glad to see you when you let them out

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Hilarius, I enjoyed the article. I'm not a pet owner but recall growing up with my siblings (6 of us born within 7 years) in a rural area. My dad allowed cats around to control the vermin and my mother got a border collie when we were young to keep us from straying off the property. Amazing how that dog knew the property lines, but none of us ever strayed off to get lost in the woods.

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I don’t feel Mr. Kawaller is a monster, but I do feel sorry for him. Forming a bond with an animal other than a human is one of life’s great gifts, ironically igniting a level of deep humanity I’ve not witnessed in those who only favor people.

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Please write more for the free press. This was hysterical!

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Mr. Kawaller THANK YOU for this hysterical article! Laughing is my favorite way to start the day!

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I loved raising my children and miss that time every day. I despise the song “cats in the cradle” because it is a total lie. I did everything with my children and now I never hear from them or see them. Makes me sad.

My darling Isabella died two years ago. Best. Dog. Ever!! I miss her so!! Dogs are wonderful loving creatures, cats not so much.

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Well, he has nothing bad to say about cats, at least.

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Funny essay! I used to wonder why on earth anyone would bother with a pet. Sleeping with a dog? Ew. Picking up shit? Scooping a litter box? No thanks.

Now I have four cats. There were three until a few weeks ago, when I encountered a seven month old tabby on the garbage cans. It was Easter Sunday, and the symbolism wasn't lost on me; my previous tabby had passed away just after Christmas in 2021, and now here he was, arisen from the dead! Not only that, but the kitten followed me inside, as if this were the way things go, and proceeded to act like he's lived here for years now. He even lies where his predecessor used to lie, where none of the other cats lie.

Meanwhile, he's knocked over a 5 foot cactus I've nurtured for years. Broke another plant pot, and denuded the sofa of its stuffing underneath. The floor is littered with bits of styrofoam. He's torn the patches off another chair and imposes kinetic energy in the most inopportune moments.

He also got into my lap for the first time yesterday. Is entertaining the older cats who have gotten their fat asses off the couch to play with him.

And he's just so darned cute, I find myself laughing a lot more.

The question is, too, what was I supposed to do -- walk away? Another cat -- the third one -- just invited himself in, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've never regretted taking on a cat, and wish I'd been as open to taking on children, because the joy does certainly outweigh the shit, the puking, and the torn-up furniture.

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“Arthritic tube of ailments.” Five stars!

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Thanks for the chuckles, Ben.

I love my dog (as shown in my profile pic) but I am not going to waste vital resources to prolong her life to delay the inevitable sadness of her parting. There is a difference between a broken leg and end stage renal failure. One you fix. one you send your dog across the rainbow bridge to save them the pain of daily living. Both are humane.

Heard a buddy refer to another friend’s child as a “skin puppy” (as opposed to a “fur baby”) and have been using it to great chagrin and laughs.

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