Animal Lovers on Social Media

I just want to start this rant with the admission that I’m crazy about cats and can’t resist petting a friendly dog! I’m more of a cat lady than a dog lady, but I love animals of all sorts! The childhood nickname my parents bestowed upon me was Elly May, the teen or twenty-something animal-lover on The Beverly Hillbillies. I have spent a lifetime falling in love with one animal after another.

I have noticed, however, a particular online phenomenon among lovers of dogs and cats. I first observed the phenomenon early in my Facebook days, back in 2010 or 2011.

I’m sure the phenomenon isn’t restricted to dog and cat fanciers. It probably also carries over to fanciers of snakes, rats, birds, turtles, etc., but it’s very prevalent among those with a preference to felines and/or canines.

The phenomenon can be described as follows…

Somebody posts a photo of their dog. The dog is a St. Bernard with orange, black and white markings.

One third of the comments will be complimentary – people who think the dog is cute.

Another third will find fault in something related to the photo or video. Some people might have a problem with the toy the dog is playing with. Others may find fault in a brand of dog food if the bag or can is in the photo. Some find fault with the leash, the expression on the dog’s face (“he must be sad – he’s probably being abused!”) or some other form of abuse or neglect that they imagine because they consider themselves animal advocates and assume every animal on Facebook is being mistreated.

The final third will all say the dog in the photo looks just like their Fido, Snookie or Rex. Many of these people, after gushing over the dog’s resemblance to their own beloved canine pal, will post a photo of their dog so the world can compare the resemblance. The look-alike might be a St. Bernard, but he’s far more likely to be a boxer, beagle or chihuahua. The “perfect resemblance” might be in the markings, the color(s) or the shape of the left front paw.

Likewise, somebody can post a photo of Christian the Lion and a hundred people with house cats will say, “That looks just like my Fluffy!” The resemblance might be an orange coat, the shape of the ears, the number of whiskers both cats possess or the fact that they both have a proud posture.

When you read, “He/she looks just like my…”, it’s unlikely that anyone else in the world will be able to detect an identical resemblance.

What’s even funnier is when someone shares the “comparison photo” of their furry friend and says of the posted photo, “That looks just like my Ginger … If Ginger were black, and about five times smaller, and a dog – but if she were a black dog and five times smaller, they’d be twins!

I have known people who will see a photo of Lassie and two weeks later, a photo of Benji, and they’ll respond to both with, “He looks just like my Fifi!” … who happens to be a pink Poodle.

It’s okay to admire all of the online animal photos that get posted, but if you find an “exact resemblance” between your poodle and Lassie (a collie) or your gray tabby and the Cowardly Lion, I’m a little worried about you.

Perhaps you really do think your Beagle looks just like a Great Dane, but I sure hope your Beagle never goes missing. People might wonder about you if you lose Snoopy and return with Marmaduke, never realizing your dog is still missing and you’ve stolen somebody else’s dog.

For the totally clueless, I do offer this piece of advice: If Snoopy used to eat a cup or two of food every day and now requires a cow’s carcass to maintain his weight, you might have the wrong dog.

The Unlikely Origins of Two Words

The word son consist of three letters and one syllable. The word daughter is nearly three times as long, consisting of two syllables.

Both words have Old English roots and were adopted from other languages, but it’s not the origins of the words that trouble me – it’s how terribly different the two words are.

(Note: The following story has no basis in fact.)

I’m sure son came first. It seems to be the practice of mankind to cater to the males first and then, as an afterthought, toss the remaining crumbs to the females.

Based on this historical view of the sexes, I think the two words may have become a part of the spoken language in the following manner.

The Origin of “Son”

Ooga and Booga are a woman and man with four boys. Ooga has just prepared a meal for her family.

Ooga – Booga, call Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum. I make food to eat.

Booga – We need word for little mans so we can call all four at same time.

Ooga – But we call them “boys”.

Booga – I tired of all other cavemans boys coming when I call for boys. We need word for our boys.

Ooga – We shall call them our sons – like the giant ball of fire in the sky that gives life.

Booga – I like! I like very much! One syllable! Easy to pronounce! Yes, we shall call them sons.

The Origin of “Daughter”

A thousand years later, Olga has prepared a meal for her family and asks her husband to call their girls in for dinner.

Olga – Bolga, go call the girls in for supper.

Bolga – Every time I call for the girls twenty other girls show up. I can’t afford to feed the entire village! We need a word, just for the girls who belong to us. We call our male children sons. We need a word for our female children.

Olga – I don’t have time for this right now! The food is getting cold. I’ll tell you what you should do – go look out at the meadow. The first thing you see is what we will call our girls.

Bolga stepped outside of their modest little hut and looked at the meadow where he saw a lion greedily eating his prey. The lion’s dinner was a species of animal that was growing rarer by the day and was in great danger of becoming extinct.

The animal was well loved as a companion animal for its sweet, gentle and trusting demeanor, but nature had not provided it with proper defenses to fight off predators and it was therefore just twenty years away from dying out.

Bolga returned to his hut.

Olga – What did you see?

Bolga – I saw a lion eating a wild prairie daughter. From this day forward, we shall call our female children daughters.

Olga – They’re not puppies! I don’t know if I like that word.

Bolga – It’s perfect! The prairie daughters are almost gone. They’re dying out. In another 20 years nobody will have ever even seen one.

Olga – My concern has more to do with our girls taking on the characteristics of the prairie daughters. What if they grow meek, mild and irresistible, falling prey to men?

Bolga – That would never happen! We’re humans, not animals! We’re a lot smarter than they are.

Olga – Oh my gosh, Bolga! Your hand is bleeding! What happened to you?

Bolga – Oh, it’s nothing. I just lost a couple of fingers this morning. I found an alligator and stuck my hand in his mouth to see what he would do.

Olga – Smarter than the animals, indeed!

The End

Actual origins:

Old English dohtor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dochter and German Tochter

Son as a word originated before 900 BCE; from Middle English sone, Old English sunu; cognate with Dutch zoon, German Sohn, Old Norse sunr, sonr, Gothic sunus, Lithuanian sūnùs

Donut’s School Days

I generally peek outside before exiting my house to ensure that the hillbilly neighbors aren’t outside so that I can sneak out in peace.

Extroverts who read this might not understand this habit of mine, but surely even extroverts can understand the need to dodge annoying people.

Recently I peeked out of three different windows to make sure I wouldn’t have to interact with the hillbillies when I went outside. Once I was finally satisfied they were either inside or elsewhere, I walked out and there was Donut! She was at the end of the driveway looking for someone or something, shielding the sun out of her eyes.

When she heard my door she turned around and greeted me. As usual, I feigned fidgety politeness. The politeness I feigned because one shouldn’t be unnecessarily rude. The fidgeting wasn’t exactly feigned, but it was slightly exaggerated in order to convey that I had other things to do.

We chatted a few minutes and she finally brought the conversation to an end by saying, “Well, I need to go in and do my homework”.

That’s all it took to pique my interest and spark the following conversation.

V – Homework?

D – Yeah, you didn’t know I was goin’ to school?

V – No, I had no idea! What are you studying?

D – I’m takin’ a computer class that teaches ya how to open Windows – that’s computer lingo – and I’m takin’ a business class.

V – Interesting! I didn’t realize you were interested in business.

D – I’m not. I hate that class! I wanted to take photography ’cause that’s where my heart is, but there wasn’t enough money left over from the grant after I paid off all my hot checks. I had to take a couple of cheap classes.

V – Oh, I see. So you’re going to school because you applied for a grant to pay off hot checks?

D – Yeah, but I had to take somethin’ ’cause if I kept the grant money without goin’ to school, they might put me in jail or somethin’. I was gettin’ ready to be arrested for the hot checks, so I had to do somethin’, and since the grant people give ya more money than ya need, I used most of it to pay off my checks.

V – Well, good luck!

D – If I go back next semester I’m gonna take photography. I like takin’ pictures! I take really good pictures. Every time we take family pictures I’m always the one holdin’ the camera ’cause everybody likes the way I take pictures.

So that’s the story. Donut is taking a couple of cheap classes at our local junior college to avoid going to jail over hot checks. I’m not sure if that makes her a scholar or a con, but she’s out of hot water for now.

The Neighbors’ Oven Dilemma

A few nights ago I heard a knock on my door. It was Donut (my next-door neighbor) holding a giant metal baking pan wrapped in foil.

My first assumption was that she was bringing me some leftover home cooking. I turned on the porch light and opened the screen door.

“Can you put this in your oven?” she asked. “That glowin’ thing in my oven got all burned up and this thing ain’t done cookin’.”

This wasn’t the first time she has asked to use my oven. Twice before she has wanted to use my oven and twice before I’ve explained to her that since I live alone and don’t do a lot of baking I only have a little toaster oven that couldn’t possibly accommodate her giant baking pan.

For the third time in the last three or four years she acted completely shocked that I do my baking in a toaster oven. And for the third time she told me I needed a larger oven. (She was very judgmental in her tone.)

I’m not sure why I need a larger oven … unless I need to be able to provide Donut with baking options during the holidays or when her element burns up.

I suggested she finish baking the dish on her backyard grill.

“I can’t do that!” she stated emphatically. “Those things are just for hamburgers and weenies. They’re just made for meat cookin’. You’re not s’post to cook anything else on ’em.”

I guess somebody should have told my mother that outdoor grills were just made for “meat cookin'”. When I was 10-years-old we moved from Dallas to the small town of Roxton, Texas. It took a few weeks to get our utilities turned on and we cooked an a grill during that time. Mom made a casserole with that sucker! I would have preferred hot dogs.

Gonorrhea’s Surprise Visit

I biked up to the Dollar General store this morning and on the way home, just as I crossed the intersection on the corner, a friend of Einstein’s pulled up next door.

The friend took a couple of minutes getting out of his car because he was busy studying his Adam’s apple in the rear view mirror.

I heard the hillbillies’ back door slam as I was walking my bike up the front porch steps, and as Einstein was walking up the driveway I heard him yell out, “Hey, Gonorrhea! I didn’t know you was comin’ over today!”

So I guess Gonorrhea showed up out of the blue, without warning, but I suppose that’s the way it always goes with such infections.

Gonorrhea isn’t exactly a handsome guy, but he’s not bad looking at all … especially for a S.T.D.

If I Were a Flower

If you were a flower, what type of flower would you be and why?

Irose-1385965_960_720 think most people would answer this question by choosing the flower they believe to be the most beautiful, possessing the nicest scent, or perhaps the flower that reminded them of childhood, their mother or of happier times.

Personally, I’ve never had a favorite flower.  I’m not a “flower person”.  I don’t understand the attraction to uprooting or cutting a living thing – regardless of how beautiful it may be – to stick it in a vase and admire its corpse.  I never have understood that.  Sure, flowers are pretty – or at least they can be – but if I have a yearning to look at a flower, I’d rather go find the place where it lives and admire it there. Perhaps I’d bring a book along … or pen and paper … and read, write or dream, leaving the flower to continue living its life after I’m gone.

Makeimg_20170106_101010 no mistake; I am not advocating for rights of plants over people or animals – I simply think it’s kind of cruel to kill a living thing for no other purpose than to admire its beauty, while watching it decompose in a vase – withering, wilting, turning brown and brittle – until it’s no longer beautiful enough to serve the purpose of being admired – then tossed out in the trash along with rotting food, plastic packaging, burned-out light bulbs, coffee grounds and other bits of miscellaneous household rubbish.

The question remains:  if I were a flower, what kind of flower would I be?

I certainlyimg_20170106_101217 wouldn’t be what one might call a pretty flower.  I would probably be a much-overlooked flower … one that goes virtually unnoticed, or perhaps a flower that’s considered undesirable.  If you were to look closely, you would have to admit that I am indeed a flower, but you’d probably be more comfortable calling me a weed.  That way it wouldn’t weigh so heavy on your conscience when you uprooted me and tossed me aside.

If I were a flower my uses would be plentiful.  I would be beneficial to both body and soul.  I would add beauty to my environment and enrich the soil.  If you paid very close attention, you would see my beauty, however fleeting it might be.  Then, after reaching maturity, I would share parts of myself with the world, spreading my seed with the wind.  But that wouldn’t be the end of me.  I would return next year and the year after that, sharing my unique beauty and gifts until my life cycle was complete.

Ifimg_20170106_101142 I were a flower, you would never expect to see me in a florist’s shop.  You would never expect to see me displayed upon an admirer’s table.  Few would ever pick me for my beauty.  If I were picked at all, the motive would probably be to pass the time or to seek a few seconds of novelty rather than to admire me.  If you found me growing in your garden, you would probably mistake me as a weed – a useless pest that needed to be destroyed.

If I were a flower, I would be the kind of flower that our great-great grandparents celebrated and found both useful and essential, but whose attributes had been long forgotten in our modern culture where beauty is judged solely on the surface.  A century or two ago you would find me being cultivated in both town and country.  People would admire me for my humble beauty and for my many other gifts.  You would find me being sold at grocer’s markets and at roadside stands.  Your great-great grandmother would have known how nourishing I am and would have served me to her family every day throughout the spring and summer months.  Your great-great grandfather, if he was one to partake of “spirits”, would have known that I have the ability to intoxicate.  Your great-great grandmother would have also known that I have the ability to heal many ailments and she would have used me in both teas and tonics.  Children would have used me to make toys – dolls, necklaces, straws and other assorted playthings.  The simple, wise folks from days gone by would have seen my full potential and would have been grateful for the gifts I offered.

Butimg_20170106_102702 if I were a flower, modern man would no longer be aware of my benefits.  I would have been replaced with convenience foods that offer little nutrition.  I would have been replaced with overpriced, mass-produced wines and the pharmaceutical companies would have replaced me with drugs that are highly questionable at best and highly toxic and dangerous at worst.  Children now prefer their toys to require batteries or to sport a character from television or motion pictures, so I would no longer even be able to serve useful as a child’s plaything.

If I were a flower I would be plain and unappreciated by those who believe that the purpose of a flower is to have a strong, pleasing aroma and to add immense beauty to its surroundings.  My uses, although plentiful, would have been long forgotten by modern civilization.

If I were a flower my simple yet valuable gifts would be considered insignificant.  My usefulness would be unknown.  My beauty would be ignored.  My demand would be nonexistent.  I would have no monetary value whatsoever in modern civilization.

Now that I think about it, I do have a favorite flower.  I greatly admire my flower counterpart for its many valuable gifts.  I also empathize with her.  How lost and forgotten she must feel knowing what a great impact she could make if only she weren’t so invisible and unknown  to those she could most benefit.  Her constitution doesn’t allow for her to make herself known.  She’s not an attention-seeker.  She doesn’t glorify with her beauty.  She grows in solitude in some of the loneliest places on the face of the earth.  She’s quiet, humble and unassuming.  Her nature is gentle but her value is great!  If she were a beautiful rose people would flock to her, but her humility and gentle nature cause her to go virtually unnoticed.

If I were a flower, I would be a dandelion.

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