Thursday, May 26, 2005

Grossest Things My Pets Have Done

I forget where I mentioned it but on a blog a while back, I wrote about how a female pug tried to back through a screen door to forcibly mate with my dog. That hideous image made an impression on some other readers. However, that's not even the tip of the grossest things my pets have done over the years. I've had two dogs, four guinea pigs, about six lizards, a few hermit crabs, five mice, three birds, a newt, dozens of hamsters, gerbils, frogs, and fish, and taken care of my wife's cat. They're mostly all gone now but memories of their grossness remains.

10. Plastic-Eating Dog and Cat
My wife's cat eats any type of plastic or string he can reach. Unable to digest it, he pukes it up usually on the carpet. He especially likes colored Easter grass from kids' Easter baskets which come up swirled around in partially digested cat food like cotton candy from Hell.

My dog used to chew up and swallow heavy plastic things especially Frisbees. This too made him throw up. He also ate my girlfriend-at-the-time's make-up, favoring lipstick but taking anything he could swallow. The resulting vomit was blood red with chunks of dog food floating in it.

9. Frog-Eating Fish
A few years ago, my step-daughter collected hundreds of tadpoles from my aunt's fish pond. We took them home and dumped them all in a small aquarium. Within days, the first of the tadpoles changed into tree frogs so we let them loose in a nearby park (within a mile of my aunt's—no threat of spreading alien species).

The first non-amphibians that hatched from the water were red worms. The Internet said they were baby mayflies. Some grew up and died by the window pane; the rest the frogs ate.

Then I noticed a small dot in the water which grew into a tiny fish. I said it was a goldfish but my wife insisted it was something else. Soon it was apparent that it was indeed a goldfish and it loved frogs. Within a few days, only a couple of frog heads, eaten down to the spinal column were left floating in the tank. Every time I cleaned the tank, I would find more decomposing fragments of frog heads, legs, and indefinable hunks of flesh.

The fish is still swimming but only eats flakes anymore.

8. Gerbil-Eating Hamster
When I was in the fifth grade, I had a family of hamsters and gerbils. One night two gerbils gnawed out of their cage and dropped to one of the hamster cages, containing a young male.

The next morning, the hamster had stacked one of the gerbils in his food hoard and was eating the liver out of the other.

Moral: hamsters trump gerbils.

7. Dog Splits Eye Open
Back when I lived in Clifton, I often took my dog to Burnet Woods to let him run and chase a Frisbee (which I had to store out of reach to keep him from chewing it up). He liked to play tug of war with the Frisbee and kept such a strong grip on it that I could lift him off the ground and swing him around me, just holding on to my end of the Frisbee.

One day while doing this, he let go unexpectedly and my hand jerked back and struck me in the eye. Something split open and blood gushed through the inside of eye, getting under the lens (the lens of my eye; my contact lens was knocked somewhere in the grass).

It didn't do any permanent damage but from that point on, I just threw the Frisbee.

6. Toilet Drinking
My dog developed a taste for toilet water and soon caught on that while I would chase him away most of the time, when he heard the phone ring, it was toilet time. Back when I had a phone with a cord and no Caller-ID, I cringed whenever the phone rang. The dog would sprint to the toilet and start lapping.

Now I've learned to keep the seat and lid down on the toilet but when I forget the dog, or even more disturbing, the cat will drink from it. The cat is so hellbent on drinking that he's fallen in several times, afterwards runs around the house spraying toilet water.

5. Bird Grows Third Wing
My aunt used to teach Biology at Walnut Hills and one day a student caught a parakeet fluttering around the school. The administrators decided to give it to my aunt but because she was at lunch, they just shut it in her classroom. When she came back and opened the door, the bird began attacking.

It was so nasty that after a year of abuse, she gave it to me. After I let it fly free during the day, it gradually calmed down but was never tolerant of humans.

Most books say parakeets only live five to ten years. I kept the bird for eleven years and have no idea how old it was when it was first captured. Advanced age must have mutated its cells because it began to grow a third wing (or leg).

The wing wasn't fully feathered but was almost as half as long as a regular wings. It could move but wasn't nearly as mobile as a normal wing or leg.

The parakeet died while the extra limb was still growing. I have no idea if this was a weird tumor or mutation. However in the south, I am legally obligated to say, "Growing extra limbs is only a theory."

Spraying Dog
Besides lipstick and plastic, my dog tried to eat anything he could reach. One day I came home to find that he'd torn open a seven-pound bag of bird seed and was gulping it down. That was messy—I had to vacuum seeds from everywhere in the apartment—but the gross part didn't occur until the next day when the seeds passed through his digestive track.

Early in the morning he frantically whined by the door to go out. I took him outside and at the first patch of grass he could find, he hunched and shot out a huge volume of seeds. If you've ever seen a nature documentary of how fish expel millions of eggs, it looks something like that.

The recoil from the seeds forced him forward a few steps, then he stopped and blasted again, then again. The process was somewhat painful for him—he let out whiny yelps as he released—and he seemed ashamed of himself. Afterwards he crawled under a chair and whimpered for hours.

On some level he seemed to connect the seeds coming in with the seeds coming out because he never did anything like that again. (Although see number 2 and 1.)

3. Exo-Species Sodomy
Once when my then-girlfriend, now-wife had to visit her parents for a few weeks, I agreed to watch her cat. It's a big, orange Maine Cooncat and weighs about 20 pounds. He's the type of cat that people often refer to as being able to beat up dogs.

My dog was too big for him and instead took to beating up the cat. That would be bad enough but even though he's been neutered, his assaults went beyond purely physical.

Naturally I'd scream at the dog to stop but words were rarely enough. The cat soon replaced the toilet whenever the phone rang.

The cat went from loud and aggressive to sulking under chairs. I can't say I blame him.

2. Cat Shit Fight
I've read that hierarchy in wolf and dog packs isn't nearly as complex as in ape and human social units (not surprising). Instead of different levels of society having different rights and privileges, canines are more linear: Alpha dog gets everything Beta dog gets plus a little more; Beta dog gets everything Gamma dog gets plus a little more; Gamma dog gets everything Delta dog gets plus a little more, and so on.

To a dog this means if any member in the pack enjoys any sort of advantage that it doesn't have, that individual outranks him and the only way to move up the ladder is to fight.

When I started watching my wife's cat, my dog went hysterical whenever the cat used its litter box. The dog knew he wasn't allowed to crap inside and seeing the cat do it meant it must be punished (or that it outranked him). When I didn't respond, he would pick up the cat crap in his mouth, run to me, spit it at my feet, and bark excitedly. I didn't respond the way he thought I should, which in his mind meant the cat was now above him socially.

The next day as I was getting in the shower, I heard the dog bark. I looked up and he had the cat pinned in the hallway as if he was ready for another round of feline sodomy. I yelled at him to stop but he bit the cat in the back of the head and shook, the way dogs shake their prey to break their necks. Instead of jerking back and snapping the cat's spine, he let go at the last second and let his head crack against the hallway wall. I yelled at him while the cat twitched but he grabbed the cat's head and did it again.

I jumped out of the shower, chased him off the cat, and soon found that I was standing naked in front of an open window after shouting incoherently and chasing the dog around the room.

Helluva lot grosser than that pug, huh?

1. Three-Fold Catfood

As disturbing as the other things were they were nothing compared to this. Shortly after regaining status over the cat, my dog began eating cat crunchies. I got a cover for the litter box which helped a little but eating cat shit was like a badge of superiority for him.

To clean the litter box, my girlfriend had a hot pink plastic litter scooper. Not thinking much about it, I left it on top of the litter box's new cover. This must have awoken my dog's old appetite for plastic.

One night I came home and found the litter box knocked over, devoid of cat shit, and pieces of the chewed up scoop around the bathroom. This was too much for the dog's stomach and he threw up in the middle of the living room. He didn't look like he was finished so I snapped on his leash and dragged him outside.

When I came back, in the middle of the regurgitated cat shit, mixed with hot pink shreds of the litter scoop, was the cat, happily slurping up the lumpy goo.

The cat food had gone into the cat, out of the cat, into the dog, up from the dog, then back into the cat. Three times the value, ten thousand times the disgust.

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