Chemistry of Pets and their Owners This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 29, 2012
By , Phoenix, AZ
The repugnant smell of hamsters and rats hits my nose like a smack in the face as I enter the massive, brightly lit store. On the right-hand side are glass cages enclosed with dozens of different cats. PetSmart shoppers flock towards the canine adoption agency to obnoxiously dote over the excited puppies and listen to the incessant whining of children asking, “Can we buy him, please? It will teach us responsibility.” As I venture to the back of the store I see various reptiles such as snakes, lizards, and turtles. An aisle over, the ear-splitting squawking of caged birds can be heard through a white kennel reeking of bird poop. Lastly, as I make my way to the exit, I pass an entire wall of blue tanks swarming with red fish, yellow fish, blue fish, and green fish, all swimming lazily in their dime-sized oceans. When I had finished my journey through PetSmart, I could not help but wonder, who will buy these animals, and how could those pet-owners be classified? After several long hours of careful examining, I have decided that in order to fully understand the friendship between man and animal, I would have to identify the unique characteristics of stereotypical, American pet-owners: Riflemen and their hunting hounds, Fad Followers and their Homeless Fish, and the Ancient Widows and their Adoring Cats.

The Hunting Hound lies quietly under the tree using natural instincts to guard her master’s territory. She closely observes as her owner, the Rifleman, works laboriously on his Chevy or Ford, All-American pick-up truck, possibly preparing for the next camping or fishing trip. The Rifleman is dressed in worn denim jeans with a tattered shirt. He is of a broad stature with long, muscular arms and legs. His loyal companion, the Hunting Hound, is typically a golden or black retriever whose patient, observing eyes are similar to that of the Rifleman. This pet-owner is quiet, honest, and hard-working; a man who dedicates his life to raising and supporting his family. The Rifleman has dutifully trained his canine companion and enjoys her presence. Throughout his dog’s life, he will feed her, care for her, and over the years, a special bond will form between man and man’s best friend that no hardship or obstacle could ever break. No love is stronger than this love.

He is the lonely fish, swimming solemnly in circles inside a tiny glass bowl, maybe near a window or on a shelf next to some family pictures. Without ever having a place to call home, he is commonly referred to as the Homeless Fish. The owners of the Homeless Fish are typically children, identified as the Fad Followers, whose only reasoning of fish-ownership can be interpreted from the school playground, “If Bobby got a puppy for his 8th birthday, than I want one too!” The short-lived ownership of a Homeless Fish is an attempt for children to prove to their parents that they are highly qualified to tackle the pet-ownership requirements necessary for larger animals such as a snakes and dogs. These Fad Followers neglect their fish, usually forgetting to feed them or clean out their fishbowls. Sadly, often times the Homeless Fish will make their final journey from the child’s toilet bowl to a predestined death. They will never be remembered and will have lived a life of sorrow and loneliness. This is the upsetting reality of the cruel treatment of Homeless Fish.

A smiling, gray lady opens the door of her peach-painted house and invites her visitor to come inside. She is nearly blind and probably unable to identify the stranger apart from her own son or daughter. She takes small, weary steps to her kitchen pantry where dozens of jars of strawberry, blueberry, and huckleberry jams are stored. The aging woman generously gives away several glass bottles of her homemade jam, carefully wrapped in red ribbon and labeled in her scrawling cursive. She kindly offers some tea, and not wanting to be disrespectful, one finds it impossible to refuse. Together, the lady and her special guest enjoy one another’s company in her living room. As she engages in light conversation, she strokes her long-haired Persian cat Franklin. His obnoxious purring can be heard except for the quiet tick-tock, tick-tock of the grandfather clock. She softly murmurs into his fuzzy pointed ears and kisses his pink, wet nose. Through the years, the woman has been content over her doting friendship with “Fluffy Franklin.” She takes pride in ensuring his coat remains untangled and that he has a well-balanced diet. They lead a quiet life, serving as comfortable companions of one another, they are known as the Ancient Widow and her Adoring Cat; a small family of two. The Widow devotes every minute of her final years to her Adoring Cat; a true, lasting friendship.
For many years, people have had to decide which classification of animal would suit their personality best. Maybe a dog, cat, fish, or even a ferret; the possibilities are truly endless, but it is not only about what kinds of animals we choose, but more about why we choose them. Unlike the Fad Followers of the Homeless Fish, most people simply seek a companion to love and receive love in return. Ultimately, when humans grow tired of other humans, they look to a new species: typically, common household pets. Unlike the everyday human behaviors and emotions, animals will never be angry or speak in condescending manners. They have good intentions and always strive for happiness. Ironically, studies have shown that relationships between man and animals are the most loyal and memorable; successful friendships that will last forever.

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