Worst pets

by Honolulu Mother

Researchers in the Netherlands have recently identified the mammals least suitable as household pets — science! — and this Vox article helpfully runs through the 25 worst:

The 25 worst mammals to keep as pets

Grizzly bear and bison seem like obvious bad ideas, but it’s a good thing they warned us about that fennec fox.

Do you have pets? Cat, dog, or small mammal / bird / fish? Have you ever had or considered having an unusual pet, or worked with an exotic animal in some other context?


153 thoughts on “Worst pets

  1. Who on earth would keep a dingo as a pet?

    Prairie dogs – These animals are NOT adorable. One of my college roommates had a prairie dog as a pet (she was from Montana). No idea which breed. She was told it was a domesticated animal – lies. That animal got into the walls of our house (we rented a floor) and caused a ridiculous amount of damage. It bit, had crazy long, sharp claws and should never have been sold as a pet. Never again.

  2. More down to earth, who has experience with keeping a cat when someone in the hous has allergies? Are the “hypoallergenic” cats really that much better?

  3. This is hysterical — it would never have occurred to me to adopt any of the animals on the list.

    We have two cats. We also inherited a bearded dragon from camp (DD has been assigned to “nature,” which apparently means “easy targets for school-year care when camp is closed”). It is an annoyance, because we keep having to shop for mealworms (it is too stupid/blind to eat the smaller ones you can buy in huge tubs and keep in the fridge) and it’s not like it comes out to play or anything. But whatever, DD takes care of it. Except this fall so far, given her foot surgery, so that was an awesome add-on mom duty (new resume skill: feeding mealworms to half-blind lizard with chopsticks). Not a fan — cost/benefit ratio seems to run the wrong way — but not a huge PITA either. Except now DS wants a chameleon or a snake. . . .

  4. We have a bearded dragon, a dog and a hermit crab. How the non-mammal ones are still alive is a mystery. Our bearded dragon also eats salad (kale, bell pepper, grapes, celery leaves) with mealworms every couple days. The hermit crab seems to live off air, water and year old crab food crumbles. All animals gaze adoringly at my husband because he is the one that notices they are out of water. He rescued the dog from a shelter. The dog is a sweet little thing and excels at napping and linking any door opening with a dog treat opportunity (someone went outside….do I get a treat now?) he also loves his stuffed turtle and looks after it attentively. Really can’t imagine our family life without a dog.

  5. We have had cats and dogs…though as a child I had some fish for a few weeks and we had a bird (someone’s pet that ended up in our back yard) for a few weeks until we could find it a home. With all the cats we have, the bird was named Snack and thankfully was not one before being rehomed.

    Friends have ferrets (which was useful when one randomly showed up in our backyard) and sugargliders. She wears the sugargliders everywhere in a pouch. I am happy to look at them at your house, just not mine. Another friend tells the horror stories of the short time owning a hedge hog. My DD wanted a reptile…I could handle the bearded dragon, but they live too long and I don’t want to care for it while she is in college!

    I would not have adopted any of the things on that list. To me those are pretty much all in the wildlife category. We have put out water in the severe drought and have had possums, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and skunks partake. We have fairly regular visits from the possums and skunks during the night. Our neigbor’s security camera picks them up as they trigger the motion detector as the leave their yard and enter ours. Wild life belongs outdoors, but it is nice to have it around to keep the balance in nature.

  6. chincilla is the only “normal” animal to keep as a pet on this list, I’ve never had one

  7. I’ve always been a cat person myself, not sure if we will get a 3rd cat again once we settle into a new place

  8. Rhett – please hire me when you get this all together.

    A college roommate had a chinchilla. The thing had fleas and was gross.

    I’ve only had fish, hamsters, and dogs. We are not exotic when it comes to pets.

  9. My DD has been begging for a pet racoon. I told her that our cat would not be happy

  10. DD wants a pet terribly. “Something with fur” – I am constantly reminded, as I try to point out our chickens are pets, and we’ve had fish. Our chickens are the cuddliest chickens in the world (not a high barrier) and let the kids carry them around like babies. I’m thinking of giving in and getting a pair of Guinea pigs. Is this crazy?

  11. I used to have guinea pigs, I loved them, they make great pets for children. But you will need a pair, they will get lonely if only one. They are very loving creatures.

  12. Rhett – I will contribute! (Even more if Rhode is Director)

    When my sibs abs I were young, we were desperate for a monkey. (We had a dog). But then some guests arrived with a sizable one and it bashed my sister into a radiator – changed our minds pretty quickly.

    We are a boring pet family. We have 2 dogs and the poor kids have heard many times, “We are a dog family, period.” Because DS wanted a snake and DSD wanted a rabbit – bad combo – and the other 2 wanted a parrot and a ferret and all kinds of fish and … NFW. Dogs.

  13. I didn’t know before I got the guinea pigs they can get scurvy like humans can, vitamin C is added to their dry food, but we also gave them vit C drops

  14. I’ve had my fill of Bison from Yellowstone.

    None of these pets sound tempting. Maybe, one day, we’ll get a fish or a hamster.

    But right now 2 dogs and 1 toddler is all my house can handle. Our older dog is slowing down, and I dread the day he crosses the rainbow bridge. I know we will get a second (or third) dog eventually, but not until we are done having kids and they are old enough to take on some responsibilities/chores.

  15. we re-homed our guinea pigs to a family with kids when I was pregnant, this makes me a bad totebagger, but I was extra cautious with the pregnancy and the march of dimes recommends not caring for them while pregnant ( and DH was busy with wine and vine work)

  16. we’ll probably wait to get another kitten until the other older cat passes, must resist looking at cute kittens until then…

  17. I’ve thought about getting DS guinea pigs but as I mentioned above, would want to wait until we are sure we are “done”

  18. No pets here because I wasn’t signing up to be pet carer in chief. I had my fill of caring for pets in my childhood home. Dog, fish, birds, tortoises, Terrapins.
    I am surprised that no one mentioned tortoises as pets. Low maintenance.
    I saw an African Grey talking parrot. I have decided that will be my pet in retirement.

  19. “I saw an African Grey talking parrot. I have decided that will be my pet in retirement.”

    Well now, if I ever live to be an old man,
    I’m gonna sail down to Martinique.
    I’m gonna buy me a sweat-stained Bogart suit
    And an African parakeet.
    And then I’ll sit him on my shoulder
    And open up my trusty old mind.
    I’m gonna teach him how to fuss,
    Teach him how to cuss,
    And pull the cork out of a bottle of wine.

  20. On topic: I love animals, but furry interactive ones. We have cats and dogs and I’m definitely the primary caretaker, but I don’t mind.

    Off topic: to renew a kid’s passport, do we need original birth certificates again, or is their current non-expired passport sufficient? I can’t find a clear answer on line and I don’t want to get there without the right documents.

  21. when I was about 9 years old, I begged Mom and Dad to let us get a cat. They finally agreed upon the condition that I would take care of the cat. I took care of the litter box and food and water. I have an older brother and sister, maybe they helped later on, I don’t remember ever complaining about the cat responsibility (I complained about plenty of other things!) I was just so happy to have that cat and I was devastated when he died.

  22. Years ago, my son was having difficulties learning to read and he desperately wanted chickens. I hate chickens but desperately wanted him to read. We made a deal where once he hit a certain benchmark on reading scores, he got five chicks. The chicks were supposed to be hens, but there was a rooster in the mix. It was vicious and would attack any one who wasn’t looking. We gave it to someone and it became the guest of honor at a BBQ.

    I’ve never really been able to pass as a Totebagger.

  23. I’ve never really been able to pass as a Totebagger.

    but desperately wanted him to read.


  24. My kids are pushing hard to get one cat, and I’m running out of excuses not to. We just might in a couple months.

    OT, I took a browse through the MMM forums and thought Rhett might enjoy this one:


    Some guy’s poor boss has accumulated over $5M in his 50’s and is ready to retire, which should qualify him for sainthood on MMM, but wants to work just one extra year for a totally ridiculous splurge on a slightly used Bentley, and half the commenters think it’s just downright sinful.

  25. Lark,
    I recommend you take the original birth cert. I think you’ll find it easier that way. In my recent experience, different places (town halls, county clerks, post offices) enforce the rules differently (i.e. make up their own even if there’s a different approach specifically spelled out on the Dept of State website) and since the objective is just get it done, you might as well have all the documentation with you.

  26. This is my favorite:

    If he was planning to spend the same money on biking across country, donating it to the library, or “slow traveling” around somewhere like a native, this group would be fighting to stand in line to pat him on the back. But “OMG Cars!”

    Speaking of cars, I came to a terrible conclusion when I was out car shopping this weekend: I won’t be able to buy a manual anymore. It seems that you can have Traffic Jam Assist that will automatically stop, go and steer in traffic or you can have a manual – you can’t have both.

  27. @ Fred, I think you are right. This task has been on my to-do list for 6 months, and I’ve GOT to get it done. Such an administrative pain in the ass.

    @ Milo – do it! But my advice would be to get 2 females from the same litter. They can be companions for each other AND less fighting over who gets to hold the cat when there’s a second one.

  28. Best pet-deciding advice I’ve ever heard: find someone who has that type of animal and will let your child be responsible for whatever pet-related jobs you would want them to do if you had the animal–dog-walking, litter box scooping, brushing, whatever for long enough for the novelty to wear off. Evaluate. Decide.

  29. “you can’t have both.”

    Do you want more intimate control over the car, or do you want it to do more of the driving for you. Make up your mind! :)

    It would seem that they could offer the traffic option with the manual transmission, and it could work within the range of whatever gear the car happens to be in to maintain a certain following distance, at least until it gets too close to zero and stalls out.

  30. Ada, get the guinea pigs. WM’s right, they’re very good with little kids. But do get two girls.

    We have birds and rabbits/guinea pigs. We do have a large number of resident lizards also, but they take care of themselves, although we have named the one that lives on and around the refrigerator. (Stumpy — he’s regrowing a rear foot — that’s how we can tell it’s him.)

    Lark, the current non-expired passport should be all he needs for a renewal. Although I suppose there’s no harm to taking additional documents if you have them available.

  31. About two years ago, someone dropped a cat at the end of our driveway. It has been living around our house since then. We don’t feed it or encourage it to stay in any way. I don’t understand how someone can just dump their unwanted pets on others. We certainly do not want it. I have an acquaintance whose kids tired of taking care of their rabbit. Instead of trying to find a home for it or taking it to the SPCA, they dropped it off on a college campus late at night when they would not get caught. That kind of thinking makes no sense to me.

  32. Milo,

    My love of gadgets is vastly higher than my love of manual transmissions. If you opt for the manual the Traffic Jam Assist works only down to 19 kph then it disengages which kind of defeats the purpose.

  33. Sheep Farmer

    We have a colony of feral cat around here because people keep dumping them. Several years ago, someone dumped a beautiful half grown German Shepherd. We have also had fighting dogs dumped nearby.

    Granted, I put food and water out for the cats, because otherwise they would have a nasty death. . I call animal control for the dumped dogs. I have a fairly good relationship with the animals control officer. I am pretty sure she finds homes for the adoptable pets, she is always asking if we can take a nice dog. The dumped fighting dogs get taken care of as soon as possible.

    Yes we have some acreage, but we already have more than enough pets. I don’t know why people just dump their animals.

  34. Sheep Farmer – I’m right there with you. I also get irrationally upset at people who get rid of their pets because they have kids. Now, I get some extenuating circumstances, but the classic “we don’t have time for Fido now that we have Junior” drives me insane.

    As do the people who ask “Oh you’re pregnant… you’re getting rid of your dog, right? they are dangerous.”… My response is “Thank you for your concern, but Dog is here to stay. We will all be fine .” In my head it’s usually “WTF?!?! That’s my baby you’re asking me to give up! Absolutely not. If anything, the dog will get better treatment than the baby.”

  35. Rhode – When I was about seven, we adopted the most perfectly behaved five-year-old golden retriever from a couple who were expecting a baby. It was from that encounter that I picked up the meaning of the term “yuppies” from my Mom’s disdainful characterization of them after the fact.

  36. Rhett: That’s awesome. I volunteer at an animal rescue organization. I wish there were fewer dogs in need of a home here.

  37. @Milo — Well, you know I will think that post and thread are freaking awesome. My favorite was the one guy’s tag line: “If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I’d spend it on cars.”

    Although, I have to admit, I did immediately jump to the guy who said “get a 10-yr-old one for 1/3 the price.” We recently started watching this show called “Car Matchmakers” — the setup is a comedian who loves cars pairs people up with the right car (he shows them three, they choose the best fit at the end). I have seen maybe 20 episodes(?). And already, in two separate episodes, one of the three options has been a 5-10 yr old Bentley for @$60K. In both cases, the cars looked pristine and gorgeous; not “modern,” but in that Rolls-type, “I’m too classy to care about trying to look modern” way. When you consider the serious depreciation ($100K in 5-6 years? really??) + the care that they likely received (you gotta figure the kind of guys who own these probably aren’t going all “Fast and Furious” every Saturday night), all together it sounds to me like an excellent car for someone else to drive first. :-)

  38. For Aaaaa-choo — IDK the answer to your question, sorry. I am deathly allergic to dogs, which is why we don’t have one, even though we’d all dearly love one — my kids in particular beg and whine repeatedly, and DD has spent hours on researching supposedly-hypoallergenic breeds. I am just afraid that adopting an animal and turning it back may be a death sentence for that animal; from what I’ve heard, the shelters can never tell if you returned an animal because of behavioral issues, so they just euthanize. IDK if that is actually true, but I’m not willing to take the chance. And I really don’t know how to find “legitimate” breeders and am horrified by puppy mills and so am not willing to go that route, either. My kids will do just fine with cats and lizards.

  39. “If I were a billionaire I’d lavishly fund a marine mammal sanctuary. Seals, sea lions, dolphins, manatees rescue and rehabilitation and a team of ocean water rescuers to free whales trapped in fishing gear. ”

    IOW, NOAA. We’re all contributing.

  40. “I am just afraid that adopting an animal and turning it back may be a death sentence for that animal; from what I’ve heard, the shelters can never tell if you returned an animal because of behavioral issues, so they just euthanize. ”

    Maybe, but there are no kill shelters, and I am confident that our animal control officer finds homes for dogs without behavior issues, or I would have never called her about the German Shepherd pup.

  41. Rhett,
    I was at a rest area in Pennsylvania earlier this summer. There was a huge van with a picture of a dog and the name of the rescue organization on the side. Can’t remember the name, but once a week the van travels from New England to the deep south to pick up shelter animals. It then returns north where loving homes are waiting for the animals. The organization has volunteers who meet them at various rest stops along the route to take each dog out and give it a quick walk before continuing on the journey.
    I have raised chickens, quail, and guineas over the years, mostly for eggs and meat. I did have two pet quail for several years that I named Dan and Marilyn.

  42. LfB – if the breeds are AKC check out their website. Also google the particular breed for rescue organizations. The AKC also offers advice on how to select a breeder (i.e. a breeder will allow you to meet the mom and dad (if available) and give you references to others who’ve purchased their puppies; a contract will be required that stipulates that the dog will go back to the breeder for any reason – basically you give the dog to the breeder, not the shelter, if there’s an issue; etc.).

    Not to give your kids more fuel, but I’ve had 4 purebreds in my life. Three from AKC registered breeders and 1 from a registered rescue organization.

    My mom and uncle are deathly allergic to dogs – we have 2 soft coated wheaten terriers and my aunt and uncle have a labradoodle that’s more poodle than labrador. No issues have been reported for either person. If you ever want to see if you’re allergic to the saliva or the dander and are in the area, let me know. You can nuzzle my pups to find out.

  43. Sheep Farmer, yet another reason I need to send my daughter to live with you next summer. She made a big effort a couple of years ago to get me to agree to raise chickens in the backyard. (An unsuccessful effort — our neighbors would kill us. The feral chickens are bad enough.) Although it was my younger son who wanted to raise quail.

  44. LFB: I have allergies and cannot have cats. We have found great success with poodle mixes, which don’t shed and don’t aggravate my allergies.

  45. To add: There are plenty of poodle mixes in shelters. No need to go to a breeder, if you don’t want to. Many rescue places will let you foster the dog for a week or so to see if the dog gets along with your other pets or aggravates your allergies. Some dogs are returned and it’s no big deal–they find other homes.

  46. BTW, for those who missed the link to the photos from the lady who did in fact keep a bison as a pet:

  47. But eventually her pet bison outgrew the house. I mean, by bison standards,she was still a dainty little girl in this one:

  48. Houston and LfB – I agree – see if you can foster for a week to see how your allergies do. Remember, fluffy dogs bring the outdoors in very readily. The rescue group we got our old man from let us foster-to-adopt for about a week. I refused to adopt the dog without knowing how he’d do around kids and our large family. He passed the test beautifully.

    HM – just no. After seeing them charge down the road in Yellowstone, I realized they were not the pets for me.

  49. Hmm, so they actually do work? It’s not just a marketing ploy? Do they come in bulldog? :-)

  50. HM-I had no idea that there were feral chickens on some of the Hawaiian islands. Do residents ever catch them for food or collect their eggs?
    Would love to have your daughter come and live here in the winter. In the summer, the animals live off the land. All we have to do is make sure that they have water. Winter is when we actually have to do most of our work-feed them hay every day, break ice from the water trough, etc. I love our animals, but it is not always fun to go out on a cold, snowy day to have to care for them.

  51. Sheep Farmer, the feral chickens mostly go unmolested, although the feral pigs are a problem in some neighborhoods and a food source / hunting opportunity in others.

    I’ll propose it to my daughter! I’m sure it would be a great experience for a would-be vet.

  52. “No pets here because I wasn’t signing up to be pet carer in chief.”

    Louise, that was my line too. They begged a lot, but we never caved. College DS almost got me with an adorable photo of a kitten about to be sent to the farm, but I’m waiting until NEXT summer to see if he will be working locally and living at home to help. Or until some mice appear.

  53. Although they more favor mountain areas. I suspect those beach chickens are getting handouts, though.

  54. Rhode,

    I don’t know if it’s the drought or what but the seagulls are getting ballsy. We were at the beach last week and a seagull walked up to a woman eating a sandwich and grabed it right out of her hand.

  55. I did an internship at the Jersey shore ~15 years ago and one side study found that gulls diet consisted of french fries, hot dogs, and potato chips.

    People feel them – intentionally and by leaving food scraps behind. So the gulls get used to people and then treat the people like other gulls. Have you ever seen them fight for food? The gull totally treated the lady like she was a gull and said “this is mine.” Unless the woman was willing to prove to the gull she was bigger, the gull would win. And then learn that it can steal.

    I don’t think it has to do with the drought-like conditions we’ve had. Gulls are scavengers and will eat anything.

  56. Fred – there are fairy tern birds that look like gulls. They probably look like thinner gulls than we’re used to seeing on the east coast.

  57. Have you ever seen them fight for food?

    Oh yes, they can spot a bag of Doritos a mile away. They wait for people to go for a walk or into the water and then they pounce.

  58. Rhode, I think Fred was referring to the chickens, not the manu o ku (fairy terns).

    That beach chicken picture was indeed from Kauai, but there are lots of feral chickens on Oahu too.

    A manu o ku:

  59. That was the name of our sailboat (my dad’s baby) when I was growing up. The Manu O Ku.

  60. Finn, what do you think of the new national sealife preserve (or monument? whatever it’s called) that was just made official?

    LfB, there are rescue shelters that specialize in pure breeds. Seeing as you don’t want to be responsible for poop-scooping and the people whose job it would be are half-grown, you might want to get a dog that’s older than a puppy. They’re already trained and when your kids leave home, you won’t be taking care of the pet for as many more years. (yes, it’s sad when a pet dies, but that will happen anyway. Might as well have it be on your schedule)

    Louise/Scarlett, if being in charge of the animal is what’s stopping you, then see my suggestion above–do a trial run with someone else’s animal and see if the kid/s actually do what they say they will. Just make sure it’s long enough that you can see what happens after their initial enthusiasm wears off.

  61. The Papahanaumokuakea marine monument is 10 years old, SM. The recent news was that it’s been greatly expanded. Fishermen are pissed, environmentalists are happy.

  62. @HM – I think the survivors on LOST hunted those chickens. All my knowledge of Hawaii comes from LOST. (there’s a magical time travel glowing orb somewhere on Oahu, right?) Just kidding – all my knowledge of Hawaii comes from you & Finn.

    We aren’t pet owners, and no one in the house has much interest in changing that, especially me. I don’t want to be the carer either.

  63. I didn’t watch Lost, but on an episode of Mythbusters, Adam hunted a feral chicken for food.

  64. Lark – just did this for my kids and we did need the original birth certificate which is so freaking counter intuitive – how do they think we got the first passport? Anyway, can’t fight city hall. Also BOTH parents have to go to the passport office or you need a notarized document signed by the absent parent consenting to the transaction. It is a WHOLE thing. Sorry.

    I love my zoo! 2 dogs, 2 aged cats(one of whom is sitting on the counter right next to me) and 2 kids! They are totally my responsibility. Everyone loves them but I am the one who really loves them! Kids will occasionally walk the dogs but I’ve made it part of my workout routine. Frankly this old cat next to me is the greatest thing ever. Loves me like no one else loves me (more than the dogs and my husband – he says differently but I know the truth). He’s on borrowed time and it is going to be a HUGE hole in my life when he is gone – HUGE!

    I would really love a some of those tiny goats and a four horned sheep – but the boss says we are at capacity. For something new to come in, someone must leave!

    Laura, I second Saac on purebred rescues (Hi Saac!) Most rescues want the right home for the dog so they usually aren’t opposed to having you try it out. We did with our second one, he had to get along with the kids, the cats and the other dog! The nice thing about most of these dogs is that they live in foster homes so they can speak to what kind of dog it is (active, lazy, good with kids, good with other pets etc…) something you don’t get when you get a puppy. Puppies are overrated and keep you up nights!

  65. Moxie, uuuuugggghhhh, they’re BOTH coming here. The first one is currently expected to be far enough to the south of Oahu that we’ll just get all the rain and high surf and junk but not the storm-force winds (but the Big Island will get those!) The second one is currently aiming right for us, but there’s time for that to change. But undoubtedly we’ll get flooding AGAIN. And I need to check whether the kids have secretly eaten all the spam that’s supposed to be the emergency food supply.

  66. Moxie – I totally get the puppy stage, but man, older dogs are just as bad!!! My old man gets up at least once a night to pee. He knows to wake DH because I sleep like the dead unless the baby monitor is next to my ear.

    When the old man goes, I will be lost. Our house will lose a heartbeat. Maybe one day we’ll rescue again or get a puppy. I sorta want a puppy again. I miss puppies and watching them grow into old men and ladies.

    {{Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that next winter I’ll have 4 children… dogs+kids will outnumber the adults!!}}

  67. gulls diet consisted of french fries…

    Chickie’s & Pete’s in Ocean City…you should see the gulls hovering, just waiting for people to (try to) walk away with their snacks intact.

  68. For renewing passports, I’ve had a similar experience to Fred’s, where different clerks in different offices put their own spin on requirements. We ran into problems verifying parent relationship even though we brought the documents that had been requested online. The clerk agreed to send our application in even though he predicted that it might get rejected. It turned out fine, but next time I’ll bring in my whole file of documents!

    We have two dogs who are VERY important members of our family. I’m the only family member who is not crazy about pets, and I’ve been mostly successful in avoiding pet care chores. But sometimes I’m forced to handle pet care if I’m the only one home. We had hermit crabs when the kids were young, and a classroom’s bearded dragon for the summer.

    One of my nephews had a turtle, which apparently has a long lifespan and was hard to rehome when he got tired of it after about ten years.

  69. “Have you ever seen them fight for food?”

    Thus explaining why the best scene in Finding Nemo was far and away the best scene.

    Wow, HM, that is not a good radar pic — fingers crossed for you.

  70. We have no pets but we’ve promised the kids a dog now that I’m not working (after we finish our first floor renovation so probably around Christmas time). I’m not super thrilled about it but I feel the kids should have a pet and our oldest is already 9.

  71. Passports: and if the other parent can’t be there, don’t just bring the notarized form, bring his driver’s license and/or passport, too. The instructions do not say this anywhere, but they insisted and wouldn’t have processed it if I hadn’t tucked that away just in case. (It was like they thought the notarized form was the stand-in for the man, and thus they still needed to see his ID to verify that the man was who he claimed to be. No, I am not making this up.)

    My default is now just to bring every possible document known to man, regardless of what the instructions actually say. Argh.

  72. SM – my kids like the idea of a pet but are not committed enough to do the work.

    Things about pet ownership – make sure your pets are not illegal. My parents discovered that the tortoises were illegal years later, they took them to a nature preserve under some sort of amensty declared by the government.
    Secondly, you may be carer in chief but sometimes pets prefer animal whisperers. That’s what my Dad is. All our pets gravitated towards him and our dog never left his side when he was home.

  73. winemama, can you give us an update on your moving plans? Soon, I hope. How’s it going?

  74. No pets!

    My parents replaced me with a dog when I went to college. So thtpthbtbhrbt to pets.

    We have had 2 fish. The first one lasted 3 years and the second one 3 months. Now #1 child is pushing hard for an “outdoor” bunny. We’ll see. I do not want to be the one mucking out its hutch!

  75. We have a dog. He is a great guy. I consider him mostly mine because I got him before I was married. He has been very gracious as I have added a husband and three children. He has been with me through 3 states and 8 different apartments and homes. He hates the outdoors and considers himself part human. I don’t think that I will get another dog when he is gone. I don’t think I would ever feel the same way about a dog now that I have kids.

  76. Honolulu – Ugh, I think the worst part would be to be taken down by Hurricane….Lester. I mean come on!

    I second LfB as always – If you husband can’t be there, I think bringing your marriage license might be a good idea and NO I’m not kidding. Probably your college transcript and your Facebook password too. (kidding there)

    I honestly cannot imagine living without pets. They enrich my life in so many ways.

  77. DS1 is allergic to dogs, so no dogs for us. He is far less allergic to cats – we had one when he was born, who died when he was 6, and he showed no symptoms then. So we now have a cat and he just washes his hands after playing with the cat. He adores that cat. It is fine with me since I like cats more than dogs.

  78. We have had no trouble getting passports for kids, including the adopted one. When we got visas for China, though, we had to send in her old Chinese passport even though it hadn’t been valid for 5 years. The Chinese visa processing people clipped it and then sent it back.

  79. No pets here either – glad I’m not the only one. A co-worker at a previous job told me that she thought people who didn’t have pets were defective.

  80. Might be different cause I’m a single mama, but to get saac’s passport before the old one expired, I just need the old one. But if I wait too long, then I have to get his dad to do the notarized form again

  81. As one who got her first pet at the age of 62, all I can say is I had no idea how adding two tiny living beings would make our house even more of a home. I suggest two kittens from the same litter, or an older bonded pair whose owner could no longer care for them. My little male had another seizure last week and it just breaks my heart when comes out of it and wails in bewilderment. I always had sniffles and itchy eyes when visiting homes with cats, but I have no issues with my two domestic shorthair sibs from a feral kitten rescue. Either this is a matter of special grace, or I was actually allergic to poorly cleaned households. Indoor cat owners of my young adult acquaintance were not particularly fastidious.

  82. When I was growing up, an eccentric relative had a pet kinkajou. It was so adorable! So exotic! So unusual! Later, when it either died or “went to live with a nice farm family in the country,” I don’t remember which, she gradually replaced him with about 30 cats. The kinkajou was better.

  83. Passports: and if the other parent can’t be there, don’t just bring the notarized form, bring his driver’s license and/or passport, too. The instructions do not say this anywhere, but they insisted and wouldn’t have processed it if I hadn’t tucked that away just in case. (It was like they thought the notarized form was the stand-in for the man, and thus they still needed to see his ID to verify that the man was who he claimed to be. No, I am not making this up.)

    Yes, you need a copy of the absent parent’s driver’s license. DW didn’t bring it, they sent in the apps anyway, and we got a letter saying we had to send it in before they would process them.

  84. “SM – my kids like the idea of a pet but are not committed enough to do the work. ”

    Then they don’t really want a pet. Current discussion in my household is not whether the child will do the work related to having a cat, but what that work is. I really need to find a cat to borrow. But then there would still be the issue of bathing the cat. Yes, bathing, It is apparently the best way to reduce allergic reactions.

  85. I would not subject a cat to a bath for any reason other than the cat s health. Certain pure breeds, flea or fungus treatments, and old cats who can’t clean themselves anymore may require bathing. If the prospective owner can’t tolerate a cat unless it is bathed, it would be best to find another type of pet.

  86. Something I learned just a couple years ago at one of the many vendor booths at Race Packet Pickup is that there are organizations through which you can provide temporary care for the pets of deployed military service members. Six months to a year is typical. I’ve thought that it might be a good way to test the degree to which a family actually wanted to care for a dog or cat before incurring the lifetime responsibility.

    I may mention this possibility to my kids. Check out dogsondeployment.org , and there are others.

  87. @Milo – thanks for posting that Buffet song. I am now fascinated with the talking parrot. It will make a great addition to busy households. With training it should be able to issue commands – “pick up your socks”, “take a bath with soap”, “have you finished your homework ?”

  88. Thanks all for the helpful guidance re our housekeeper. The final result was bonus cash, flowers, and a note.

  89. Milo – I heard about those organizations and think it’s fantastic. That may be something we do in the future, too.

    Louise – be wary, parrot lifetimes can be in the 20-30 year range (maybe more). Last thing you want is to be dealing with your talking/commanding parrot in your will… Though, your kids (if you have grand or great-grand kids) may love it because they don’t have to nag, the old bird will… :)

  90. On kids helping with dogs – I didn’t have any expectation my kids would do all–or even most–of the work for our dogs, and I didn’t exact any promises from them as a condition of our getting dogs. I went with my mom’s advice: “Don’t get a dog unless you want a dog, because no matter what you and the kids agree to, it will be you who takes care of the dog.”

    Oh, sure, I expected the kids to cheerfully feed, water and walk the dogs when asked, and they have complied with that expectation (well, maybe not always “cheerfully”). But kids get sick, and can’t take care of the dog; they go to sleepovers and camp, and can’t take care of the dog; they sleep in on weekends, and the dog is up at 7am and expects to be fed; they go to sleep before it’s time to let the dog out at night; they can’t walk the dog (or you won’t want them to) when it’s dark out; they’re not so great at being the alpha, so they aren’t the best person to train the dog; they don’t care as much about your carpet as you do, so even if they *say* they cleaned up the dog pee, puke or sh** really well, they didn’t actually do it all that well; they have sports at the dog’s dinner hour, dates at the dog’s walk time, movies when it’s time for the dog to go out one last time at night. They likely will be afraid to trim its nails or stick medicine swabs in its ears.

    All of that stuff–and more–will be on you. So, I wouldn’t get a dog unless you really want a dog.

    Making the kid promise to do all the work, when there’s no way it can happen, sets them up for failure, and sets them up to break a promise. It sets you up for disappointment, too. Not so fun to have a cuddly little dog if your mom or dad are constantly complaining about how they got stuck with the work despite Sally promising otherwise.

    But I would posit that having all that stuff be on you isn’t such a big deal, really, when you consider that you do all this sort of thing already, for your kids. Kids don’t do these kinds of things for anyone, so for them, the added work in doing everything for a dog is a huge add-on to their lives, whereas for you, it’s not such an incremental change. I always wanted the kids to love having a dog, even if that meant some extra work for them. I didn’t want them to resent having a dog because it was a monumental amount of work and they were always in trouble for not doing it all.

    To me, a dog is a bit like a summer home or a vacation, in that it enriches family life a ton, makes everyone happy, offers many benefits to kids and families, yet has some downsides along the lines of work and cost. We don’t require our kids to chip in on the work and cost of summer homes and vacations in order to “earn” the right to have them. We provide those for our kids without exacting something from them, because of the benefits to them and to the entire family.

    Also, Rhett – I just booked a flight that routes through Logan. Please wear a rose in your left lapel on Nov 3 and 6!

  91. @Risley – I think that all makes a lot of sense. That is exactly why we will never have a dog. I do not have any interest in having one, and it will be MY dog.

    @Milo – That’s a really great program. Not many active service people around here though – only one pet listed in the entire metro area! We have Great Lakes, but I don’t know that many people are stationed there & deployed since it’s a training base more than anything, I believe.

  92. Ivy – If volunteers wanted to, they could always drive. I’m assuming there’s no rule against it. There’s some big AF base in Ohio; just enter that zip code.

  93. Ivy – My BIL is stationed at Great Lakes now – they are so happy because he has steady hours and can be around more for his twin 1 year old sons than he could be if he were at another base.

  94. It’s time for a Duggar update for those who follow such things.

    Last night we got to spend more time meeting Jinger’s courtship partner, the ex-second rate pro soccer player turned pastor. I think his name is Jeremy, but it really doesn’t matter because there seems to be nothing noteworthy about this guy, save for the fact that he seems to like the Duggars and is willing to take one of their aging daughters off their hands. He smiles a lot in a gee-whiz or aww shucks kind of way, and he makes comments about how it’s very different in a house with a bunch of kids vs. the one in which he grew up, with just one other sibling. And of course he and Jinger are deeply, deeply in love, to such a degree that they gaze into each other’s eyes endlessly whenever they’re within 50 feet of each other, they can’t stand to be apart, and when they are, the thought of losing cell service and Facetime connectivity is just unbearable, so of course they’ve adopted the standard courtship restrictions so that they can use this (admittedly very rushed) period of time — “season” — to “really get to know one another’s heart” in a presumably very objective and rational process that might otherwise be clouded by full-body hugging or un-chaperoned dates.

    But separate they must, because TLC needed some sort of travel adventure to film, so a very sunburned John David explained, very slowly, that a handful of the older unmarried kids, including the comically love-struck Jinger, were going to hit the road in a 20-year-old borrowed motorhome and head for the mountains of southern Missouri where they would undergo the rigorous “Sigma 3” survival training. You just never know when you might be dropped somewhere in the middle of nowhere and will need these survival skills, John David sagely warned us woefully unprepared viewers. After their traveling surfaces degraded from a four-lane highway, to a two-lane highway, to a dirt road — all carefully detailed by the budding traffic control engineer, Joseph, who must be about 23 but looks like he’s going on 45 — the old RV plodded to a stop at some backwoods mountain campground where they were met by four guys who looked like they were hanging around for a remake of Deliverance. John David was particularly impressed by one of the instructor’s lack of shoes, wisely surmising that anyone who was tough enough to go without footwear in the Missouri mountains is likely to be someone who can “break you in half, I don’t know, just by thinking about it.”

    The four priorities of survival in the middle of nowhere, we quickly learn, are shelter, water, food, and fire. Fire was apparently first on the curriculum, and the eager students were soon taught how to start one if they find themselves in the middle of nowhere (assuming nowhere happens to be a dry forest with plenty of dry brush) and with absolutely nothing on their backs, save for a few convenient kits containing fire-starting bows and pieces of steel and flint. Amazing what primitive resourcefulness the human spirit can muster when tested in such desperate circumstances. But with fires blazing, we quickly moved on to other survival priorities: food and shelter. Fortunately, the Duggars brought a 40 foot motorhome stocked with hot dogs and S’Mores, and I guess the next lesson in the survival course is, when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, survive on whatever is available, including hot dogs and S’Mores. As for shelter, the school had a few teepee-looking huts already erected that were primitive in appearance, and some of the kids slept there while others slept in the motorhome. Timeless life skills, all around.

    We also checked in with an increasingly terrified Jill and Derrick, apparently fighting for their own survival in the violence-plagued village of “Central America.” In case anyone missed their desperate pleas last week, they reminded us about just how dangerous their mission work is, and how grateful they are to the Duggar parents for bringing them air conditioners on their most recent visit, allowing them to keep their doors and windows locked. The situation is so dire that they’ve been moved to have the unpleasant conversations about what to do if one of them doesn’t come home, or even dies. These aren’t discussions that you want to have, but it’s a reality in Central America, and they agree that it’s good for them to have answers to these things. Still, their mission work must continue, Derrick proclaims bravely, and as a symbol of his resolve, he has taken to wearing folded bandanas around his hair.

    Finally, it’s time to catch up with Jessa and Ben, whose employment situation and source of income shall continue to remain a secret, or are basically nonexistent. But God has other purposes for Ben, and lately He has been putting on his heart a calling to help our nation’s troubled youth. Ben likes football, and since his infant son Spurgeon is too young to toss the football around in the yard, Ben thought why not start a football camp for troubled youth in need of mentorship. Ben mentioned this idea to Jessa in a painfully staged conversation while they were working out in the Duggar gym located on the grounds of the family compound, and ever-supportive Jessa told him that they have a family friend, ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Steve Conley, who would love to help Ben start his camp. Ben appeared entirely surprised by this revelation, which could only be a genuine reaction if he’s never actually watched his in-laws’ TV show, since Conley has appeared on numerous past episodes as a trainer to help Jim Bob and now-disgraced eldest son Josh get in better shape, presumably in exchange for free publicity. He even traveled to Maryland to take Josh’s family to a local farmers’ market to teach him that vegetables are healthy. Still, Ben is thrilled, and he soon meets with Conley to go over his plans for a football camp to mentor troubled youth where they will play football and then “just pour into them.” Steve confirmed that he’s familiar with the concept of camp, thought it was a great idea [more TV exposure never hurts], and promised to get in touch with some other people who know a thing or two about football, camp, and God.

    Until next week…

  95. Ben thought why not start a football camp for troubled youth in need of mentorship.

    Um, I assume we all know where that is headed?

  96. Milo – priceless! This is better than watching.

    (Although we’re still watching. DD and I saw the first episode last night on On Demand. I just told her we must have another to see, since you’d had posted this).

  97. Thanks Milo! I still must watch, to see the besotted Jinger with a J. And I agree on the significant lack of appeal of her intended, and the baffling lack of structure or responsibility in young Ben’s life. We laugh so hard at his scenes because he always seems just propelled along by the force of his wife and in-laws, like life is just happening to him and he has no agency at all. I’m sure this mentoring career will be as long lasting as his music career.

  98. “like life is just happening to him and he has no agency at all.”

    Yes!!! Exactly. I kind of feel bad for him. In the pre-scandal episodes, Ben’s dad came across as a generic kind of person I could see as my boss–articulate, well-groomed, confident, poised, directed. Far more careful and measured with his words than the bumbling Jim Bob. And Ben might have grown into the same way, but Jim Bob wanted him in the Tontitown Family Circle, living in their barn until he married Jessa, and doing odd jobs for him in the 25 different businesses they’re juggling.

  99. Milo – DD and I just watched episode 2, and then I read your summary to her out loud (she insisted we wait in case there were spoilers in your summary; I assured her there would be). Anyway, we were both in stitches, and we’re far more excited to see your summary next week than we are to see the actual show (though of course we’ll still watch it). The thing I notice this season is that they (or maybe only Jinger) talk about missionS trips — always plural. No idea what that’s about, but if that’s the only puzzling thing about this family …

  100. Meme, the actual reccomendation is to have a groomer bathe the cat, but seeing as saac couldn’t take the cat to a groomer, I figure he could learn to do it himself. Maybe have someone come do it a few times and watch very carefully, then start doing every other bath himself, then 2 out of 3, etc until the groomer came every couple months.

  101. Risley, I wouldn’t mind helping out with his pet, but I don’t want to have to remember one single thing. The whole “babysitting” vs “parenting” thing.

  102. Re: Ben Seewald’s frequent befuddled expressions on the Duggar show – my daughter thinks he is blinking messages to us in Morse Code, requesting assistance or some sort of extraction. Sadly, we don’t care enough to learn Morse Code and find out.

  103. Risley – glad you guys liked it. I noticed that “missions trip” wording too, as it seemed very deliberate. Their demographic is big on effecting certain common language uses: “this ‘season’ of life, fellowship/fellowshipping as a verb/participle/gerund that means socializing with like-minded Christians. “Purpose,” again, as a verb, to mean “resolve.”

    It’s not limited to their demographic. It seemed like all of a sudden, the food-strident Totebag demographic decided that food ought to be healthFUL, whereas only living beings, presumably would be healthy.

    MBT – I have been known to present a blinking tic in times of great stress, starting in K, for a period in Fourth, and re-presenting during my first college summer. (That’s another term that suddenly appeared among über parents–suddenly everyone became a physician and all symptoms “presented.”) Anyway, we would all be lined up against a the walls of a hallway so they could yell at us for various shortcomings, and the guy who would become my best friend and a groomsman at my wedding thought I was winking some sort of message to him, so he’d wink back and I just figured he was crazy.

  104. “this ‘season’ of life, fellowship/fellowshipping as a verb/participle/gerund that means socializing with like-minded Christians. “Purpose,” again, as a verb, to mean “resolve.”

    Ah, Churchspeak. I’ve learned it thoroughly in the last five years. I’m still not fluent but I can make myself understood. I was startled to learn, after 20 years of marriage, that Indiana-born DH can speak fluently and is a moving writer in Churchspeak. He throws around “brothers and sisters in Christ” and “Peace of the Lord” and a bunch of other things I can’t even replicate right now like a native speaker. Marriage is full of surprises!

  105. One of the aspects of The Onion that makes it so funny is how well they channel the speech and vocabulary patterns of their subjects.

    DuffelBlog does the same thing, perfectly at times, right down to service and rank distinction.

  106. Milo, your synopsis meets Totebagger standards but as the only (?) Totebagger with a Quiverful brother in Missouri, I feel called to share my heart with you about your underuse of the word “just”. Superfluous use of the word “just” would improve your synopsis in a powerful way.

  107. ” It seemed like all of a sudden, the food-strident Totebag demographic decided that food ought to be healthFUL, whereas only living beings, presumably would be healthy.”

    IOW, proper use of the word, “healthy,” is strident?

  108. “Peace of the Lord”

    Are you sure he’s not saying, “piece of the Lord?”

    Sort of like Bush 41 saying, “Know new taxes.”

  109. “Healthy” to describe a food or habit has been around for hundreds of years. http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/healthy-or-healthful . It’s one of those situations where some people will insist on a rule that doesn’t exist, sort of like splitting an infinitive or ending a sentence with a preposition. I would quibble only as to whether the complaints arose all of a sudden — as you can see from the link, people have been complaining about this one for a long time.

  110. Milo–I’m not going to bother watching the Duggars anymore, I’m just going to read your summaries.
    There was a blog called “Free Jinger”, but I guess she doesn’t want to be freed.

  111. Speaking of healthy healthful eating, if you want to remind yourself that there is nothing new under the sun, read “Jeeves and the Old School Chum”.

    “I tell you, Bertie, Jeeves stands
    “He’s a marvel.”
    “A wonder.”
    “A wizard.”
    “A stout fellow,” I agreed. “Full of fat-soluble

  112. Milo, “only”, as in “We just ask” or We just pray”. One of my pet peeves in the religious equivalent of corporate bingo.

  113. WCE – Ahh, I can see that now. Even in mainstream church. Personally, I’ve always preferred the more formal and rehearsed, often repetitive and poetic prayers of Catholicism over the off-the-cuff, overly heartfelt and personal conversational prayers of many Protestant ministers.

    We’re in between churches right now, as some of the actions of the new pastor to our regular church induced an exodus of many of the younger families with children. It was a staff-relations situation. I didn’t care all that much, but DW was turned off, and more importantly, so many others are gone. We’re examining all options. I’ve never been fond of the overly casual mega church ministers who dress like Steve Jobs and are so cool that they go from delivering the sermon to playing the guitar at the Contemporary Service, but that’s where so many of the families with kids go. I’ve said I’m willing to give it a try. OTOH, DW has similarly indicated that she would be open to my bringing everyone into the Catholic church.

  114. Aren’t there any alternative Episcopalian churches in your area? That’s the usual go-to for people who like everything about the Catholic tradition except for the Pope.

  115. “Except the Pope”. LOVE Pope Francis! He represents the particular strain of Catholicism I was raised with. Our parish priest railed against the hypocrisy of funneling money into buildings when their were poor to be fed. We got buttons at mass that said “I Give a Damn” at our annual Give a Damn Sunday. My understanding is that he was frequently on the outs with our more conservative bishop, but a heavy focus on social justice was the indoctrination of my youth, in church, at home, and in my high school. I have a ridiculous Pope-crush, but this man speaks to my heart.

  116. Episcopalian would be fine, except they look like small congregations around me. The issue for DW is not that she wants the sermon experience that I consider overly expressive and personal, but she has visions of the kids experiencing the same sort of large and active youth group that constituted one of her tribes in high school. That’s how the non-denominational mega churches get their hold on an area, I think. But I’m always suspicious of non-denominational; I feel like there ought to be some higher chain of command keeping an eye on things, so to speak. Otherwise, anyone can be a pastor; opening a church is like opening a restaurant, except with even less oversight from the Health Dept.

    But the Catholic church near us seems pretty big and active, and I have no beef with the Pope. I’m just a little unsure of what going back entails. Would my kids need a “real” baptism now? :)

  117. MBT, I like the current pope too. It’s the whole concept of the papacy that some Protestants don’t like. I don’t like it myself.

    Milo, I agree completely with your suspicions about non-denominational churches. I’m sure some of them are great, but some of them are bizarre and some are just cult-of-personality groups.

    You’ll have to ask the priest about what he thinks is required to get the kids back in the Church’s good graces. I know most of the official rules, but I suspect different priests have different standards.

  118. Yeah, that’s the problem with Episcopalian churches (I was raised Anglican so landed in the EC) – they’re usually small, and often old in terms of demographics. DD is always agitating to go to one of the Bible churches – way more going on wrt young people. Even the Lutherans around here are into Young Life and the RC churches have a lot more bodies and families. No one is as boring us we are, if you’re a kid. So I’m told.

  119. Milo, generally you should not have to baptize your children again as Catholic teaching is that they acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins – they don’t believe in multiple baptisms but as RMS said check in with your local priest. If your children haven’t received other sacraments, they will most likely just go into the religious ed for their age group. If they have received other sacraments then they might go into the Right of Christian Initiation for Adult program at the parish to point out how the Church differs in its teachings.

  120. UL – You’re talking me into it, honestly. I’m kind of eager to get back to a real liturgy rather than rambling, and maybe some actual church music vs. that faux-rock shit that they try to play at the Contemporary Service with the words PowerPointed on the screen over an ocean background. (The Contemporary Service is the one that coincides with Sunday School, hence my suffering.)

  121. Milo – if I used church speak my family would think I have joined one of the groups within the Catholic Church that is more evangelical in nature. Tensions sometimes arise when my aunt begins to “preach” to her sisters, asks them to read the Bible, forwards emails with descriptions of miracles (rubbish – in the words of one aunt) and so on. My other aunts say that private prayer to the Lord is enough and they have a speedy and direct connection to him.

  122. Louise – in my experience, and it’s admittedly anecdotal, those who are very devout Catholics tend to be people who are clearly a lot smarter than me, such as Scarlett, or my uncle (a daily Mass kind of Catholic, even though he still works full time). And their leaders are conversant in philosophy and Latin, they’ve studied difficult courses in Rome.

    In my experience, they tend not to produce the Jim Bobs.

  123. that faux-rock shit that they try to play at the Contemporary Service with the words PowerPointed on the screen over an ocean background.

    But you’re a Young Person® ! That music (usually called throw-up music because the lyrics are thrown up on the screen, and for obvious other reasons) is supposed to be bringing your generation into the pews!

  124. Yeah, I know. That’s the idea. And that’s why Sunday School is scheduled for that period. But then you can never really be sure if the younger families actually like the music, or if they’re only tolerating it for the reasons we were, or just because that time period, equidistant from breakfast and lunch, is best for little kids.

Comments are closed.