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A Place to Roll on the Floor 

Laura said, "Let's go play with puppies." If you're a city resident, there is no place you can really go to play with puppies or kittens, or baby rabbits or chickens for that matter. We have two black cats, one very old and one very funny, but I could understand Laura's yen. She wanted to get down on the floor and play with puppies, an immensely therapeutic and entertaining activity. I suggested that we might go to the zoo, and we did, but it wasn't the same. The animals were hot and bored, and a lioness came pretty close and rubbed herself against the bars just like a kitty, and it would have been nice to scratch her behind the ears and roll around on the floor. Alas. Some people in the city have puppies and even lions, but we don't know any of them and, besides, you can't just call up anybody and say you're coming over because you want to play with their pets. That's when it occurred to me that somebody could make a mint (I'm ever practical in the doldrums of summer) by opening a pet center where people in need of instant puppy therapy could go. This center would have baby animals of all kinds, from lambs to chicks, and you could go for a half hour ($35) or a full hour ($50). The therapeutic benefits of playing with animals have been well documented. There is a successful program to pair prisoners with puppies. City people in the summer are very much like prisoners. This pet center, called, by the way, Petrushka, "where being in the doghouse can feel like being in a cathouse" (or something like that), could do a bang-up business 24/7, and the franchise opportunities are unlimited. Failing that, people with puppies and kittens should put up a sign in their windows, "play with pets," and passersby could just drop in. I thought about putting an ad in the paper, looking for "people with pets who don't mind strangers coming by to play," but I thought better of it. Such ads can easily be misread. Years ago, my friend Hunce, who had a bull in need of company (he was living in the country), placed an ad that said, "Boy cow looks for same." Hunce was gay, and he wanted his pet bull, Ocean Peace, to find a companion of the same sex, but people misinterpreted the ad and all kinds of people called looking for kinks. There is so little innocence left! There are also some kinds of pets, like snakes and tigers, that are better off left alone. Look what happened to Bobo, the tiger a cop shot in Florida! Bobo just wanted to play, but the cop didn't. In any case, Laura's sudden wish of childlike tenderness went unfulfilled, and until my brilliant idea is realized by a smart entrepreneur, we'll have to do with our ancient felines who'd rather sleep than play, and hope that someone answers this ad.

Andrei Codrescu wrote Wakefield, a novel.

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