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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (June 1, 1936)

Pots At Pets

page 22

Pots At Pets

What Is Home Without A Pet?

A bird to sing,
A pet to pat,
A cat to slumber
On the mat;
Without a pet
The home is flat—
The human mind
Is made like that.

Man, the great big bassoon in creation's orchestra, yearns for a pet to pat, for a fragment of furred fauna or feathered fowl to fondle; something dumb and faithful and uncritical to reinstate him in his own good books when things come ungummed. He must have something to lean on; not that one can conveniently lean on a goldfish or a canary unless one is a remarkably skilful leaner. But, leaving leaning to the Tower of Pisa and the dieticians, the chief attraction of dumb animals is their dumbness. You can tip off an earful of trouble to a goldfish without his interrupting to tell you about the air-choke in his gills or the water on his bilge. He just conveys his silent sympathy by goggling glassily with one eye at a time, and blows a few bubbles to show what he thinks of life.

When existence seems to sag, and life languishes into a kind of moaning without meaning, you can sneer at the canary, step on the cat's self-starter, tell the parrot where he gets off, or look black at the white mice; and their admiring eyes will only seem to say, “What a man!”

The Little Things That Count.

That is the secret of Man's penchant for pets. They represent repositories for repressions, they are the recipients of his reflexes, his silent sympathisers, and probably his only admirers. Whether he seeks them, looking like “Sunlight on the River,” “War Clouds on the Bosphorus,” or “Fungus in the Underground,” matters not one whit nor wot. Under all conditions their opinion of him is almost as high as his own. He may be so good that he even bores himself; he may be so bad that even his wife realises it. But, will his canary give him “the bird,” will his cat “scratch” him, will his dog become tail-tied in his presence? No sir! Neither will his white rabbit burrow in the blancmange at sight of him. No wonder they are called dumb animals. And of all dumb animals the dog is the “dumbest”; which probably makes him so popular as a pet. Cats are cold. They seem always conscious that once they were fondled by the Pharaohs and pampered in the palaces of Egypt. When the spirit of Ancient Egypt moves them they can “cut” you deader than a butcherbaronet.

Going To The Dogs.

But dogs are true, true till debt, and after. They are so broad-minded that, even if they knew the truth about you, they would still look dog-like at you. A dog contains more foolish affection to the square inch than the average marriage license. Whether he is so
“Step on the cat's self-starter.”

“Step on the cat's self-starter.”

pure bred that he is ninety-nine per cent. pedigree and only one per cent. dog, or whether his antecedents are so confused that he couldn't bite himself without causing international complications, he is so full of faith in human nature that there is no room for discrimination. But human dogmatists are more fickle than faithful and, while loyal to Dog, their preferences vary from time to time as to dogs.

Fashion affects dogs as well as dresses and drinks. Thus, in the words of the following doggerel there are—

Dogs, dogs, all kinds of dogs;
Short dogs and Dachshunds
With torsos like logs.
Fat dogs, and thin dogs
That sag when they run;
Rum dogs and glum dogs,
And dogs full of fun.
Dogs without tillers,
And dogs without brains,
Hot dogs and cold dogs,
And watch dogs on chains.
Scotch dogs with whiskers,
And lurchers that leap,
Pug dogs that whimper
And wheeze in their sleep,
Danes dumb and dreary
That look like a bear

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That's been through a mincer
And lost all its hair;
Bloodhounds and mudhounds,
And bulldogs that look
As if they've connected
With Dempsey's left-hook;
Gloomy Saint Bernards
Whose job (as you know)
Is rescuing travellers
Out in the snow;
Greyhounds, and whippets
That whip through the air,
Burly dogs, curly dogs,
Dogs almost bare;
Poms—shrilly pom-poms—
Dalmations, Alsatians,
Chow dogs and cow dogs,
And tykes of all nations.
Some time or other,
It's proper to say,
In public importance
Each dog's had his day.

So much for faithful Fido!

The Provocative Parrot.

Broadly speaking—as he usually is— the provocative parrot is not a dumb animal. There are times when owners have wished that he were. The chief use of a parrot is to restrain dad from expressing his feelings in a natural manner when he drops the boot-last on his thumb. For parrots are delightfully imitative and love nothing better than regaling visiting vicars and rich aunts with fruity tit-bits garnered from dad's repertoire of vocal gems. Before purchasing a parrot it is always wise to examine its chest for tattood anchors; for a tattood anchor means that the bird is steeped in the traditions of the mercantile marine and is liable to come un-steeped and tell the world, just when the rich aunt looks like coming across with the “mazuma.” Many a parrot thus has put the acid on the gold brick of Fortune by speaking out of his turn.

“The Gift Of Tongues”

“The Gift Of Tongues”

“Have always longed to own a cray who would recognise my step.”

“Have always longed to own a cray who would recognise my step.”

The Cray At Play.

The British pet-lover is not very venturesome. He is satisfied with dogs and cats and birds and mice. He is a petty petter. Seldom do we hear of him harbouring a giraffe or a muskox in his yard, or a dolphin in the bath. More imagination is required if piquancy is to be added to domesticity. A clutch of bats—ding or plain—would help. A brace of carpetsnakes or lounge lizards would add zest to afternoon tea-parties. A pet platypus would lend a pre-historic, and post-hysteric, colour to the antique furniture. A wallaby would keep things on the hop, and a conger eel clambering up and down the table legs would be sort of chummy.

Personally I favour a pet cray. I have always craved a cray to tell my troubles to. Its eyes are so sympathetic; they seem to reach out towards you. They have the same seeking sublimity as a pair of toffee apples, the same questing questioning as a couple of asparagus stalks. They swivel so sweetly, they convex so neatly, their periscopic protruberance is so submarinely satisfying.

I have always longed to own a cray who would recognise my step—and breath—when I returned to the inglenook at eventide; to hear him gallop down the hall to meet me with a noise like a sack of dog-biscuits going through a chaff-cutter. I would call him Nip or Boozo, and he would clamber onto my knee with eyes brimming with affection, as only a cray's eyes can brim. I can imagine him playfully pinching my toes in the morning, the while he flapped his tail and capered on the bed rail. I would take him for a scamper along the beach, making sure that he didn't fall in the water and drown. I would train him to pull corks and pickled onions out of bottles, to nip undesirable visitors under the table, to shin up and fix the aerial, to find my collar studs and socks under the duchesse in the morning, and to weed the garden on Saturday afternoons. And what a “wow” he'd be at smoke concerts— provided he could keep sober! Dogs and cats are loyal but, for sheer craylike devotion, give me a cray.

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