Home Life Laurie Nigro Laurie Nigro: I’ve checked yes on every box of the ‘Are you...

Laurie Nigro:
I’ve checked yes on every box of the ‘Are you a crazy animal lady?’ questionnaire

Stock photo: Fotolia

I’ve always loved animals. As a child, I collected vast quantities of stuffed beasts to make up for the real ones we were not allowed to have (my parents never felt the pull of pet ownership). I envied my friends who had pets and even took up pet-sitting for my neighbors because feeding a dog what looked and smelled like canned vomit was still better than not feeding any dog.

Most females are genetically wired to like cute and fuzzy things. I won’t get all science-y right now (because then I’d have to do actual research instead of regurgitating something I definitely read somewhere on the Web), but suffice it to say it’s a built in maternal thing that keeps us from rejecting our young — which was probably a smart failsafe designed by whoever created us because, though I love my offspring, there were days when the oxytocin was the only thing keeping those screaming banshees from being evicted.

However, at a certain point in my life, I went from a normal person who likes dogs to a bat shite crazy animal lady. I’m not sure when that point was. It just sort of snuck up on me, like spider veins and the fact that those sleep lines across my face in the morning take an uncomfortably longer amount of time to go away than they used to. And that fits with the timeline. My husband likes to remind me that I’m not the only one in my middle-aged female friend circle who posts significantly more photos of our pets to social media accounts than we do of our own children. And whenever my facebook memories pop up, his theory is soundly confirmed as I am forced to confront the 46 adoptable dogs that I shared in a three-day span last year (and wonder if they were ever adopted, whilst experiencing overwhelming guilt because I did not personally adopt every one of them).

I started to wonder if there were any warning signs that could tip someone off before they found themselves seriously considering — and ultimately buying — a raincoat for their indoor cat. I figured out that there are at least five signs that you should be aware of, particularly if you identify as female and are past the age of 35.

1. If at any point, you find yourself looking at some one-eyed, hideously un-groomed, wet and bedraggled, three-legged cat and then tell yourself, “She’s so ugly she’s cute!”

You have entered the point of no return. That is not a cute animal. That is a train wreck. That is a fugly beast that strikes fear into the hearts of all other cats. I find at least three posts like this on my social media pages, every week. I’ve definitely considered taking at least two of them, extolling his/her beauty and perfection to an unyielding husband.

2. You behave like a love-struck fool every time you see someone with their pet.

When I see a dog coming my way, I smile like someone just handed me a glass of wine. I have stared into the faces of grown men — huge, tattooed, frowning, and possibly the main suspect from the last episode of America’s Most Wanted — and grinned widely because he is walking a dog. He could be a serial killer and the dog could be Cujo but I’ve still checked them off as “A-OK.” I have definitely made many young 20-somethings vaguely uncomfortable as I smiled approvingly at them simply because they have a dog. And I will ask anyone, no matter the situation, if I can pet their dog. Unless it’s a working dog. Then I restrain myself but feel like a kid in a candy store, forbidden from getting anything, forced to go home empty-handed and soul-crushed. I know these companions are doing SUPER important work, but can’t they have an off switch or something? Because they are just adorable in their little vests!

3. You have one or more magnets/stickers on your car about your pet.

You’ve seen them. “Who Rescued Who?” “Pomeranian on Board,” or maybe, “I like big mutts and I cannot lie.” Mine says “Rescue Mom” inside a pink paw. I have yet to put the “My child is an honor student” sticker on my bumper, but that pink paw rides with me 24/7. Each magnet has its own level of pathetic-ness. Each sticker tells you a little more than you should probably know about the (most likely) woman behind the wheel. Like, she may keep dog biscuits in her console or own stock in lint rollers and it’s also possible her dog has his own seatbelt. And car seat (in case you were wondering, none of this is normal).

4. You’ve stopped inviting people over if your dog doesn’t like them or they don’t like your dog.

We’re not talking about people who just don’t “get” dogs, they’re obviously sad and confused, but we can give them a pass and let them in. No, I’m talking about the ones who genuinely dislike pets and the feeling is mutual. If your dog growls at someone you’ve invited into your home, unless you yourself know your dog to be an arse, there is likely something wrong with the person. You’ve made the right decision and should probably completely excise them from your life. They lack any real redeeming qualities and you can assume that they are a danger to themselves and others.

5. You have more pets than people living in your home.

At one time, it was balanced. There was one pet per person. But those days went the way of the cassette tape and, like a bad mixed tape made by that guy from high school who was a borderline stalker, we aren’t really sad to see them go. Except when you have to pick up after the pets. I mean, for the love of God, how can that much waste come out of something that small? Don’t they retain ANY of the grain-free, allergen-free, sustainably produced food for which I spend a small fortune? And what happened to those other people with whom I share a house who begged for another dog/cat/pig/chicken/fish? Whatever. Just realize that you are now outnumbered and if the pets really wanted to, they could kill and eat you.

As I have acknowledged each of these signs as being present in my life, I have come to terms with them and am at peace with my choices. I may spend more on pet insurance than I do on people insurance, but at least we were covered that time the front door kept a portion of my dog’s tail for itself. And when my kids grow up and move away, leaving me all alone, my pets will not abandon me. And they’ll be way more appreciative of the sweater and hat set that I crochet for them.

Here’s a great pattern from Red Heart for a snazzy dog sweater. I wonder if I can size it up for a pit bull?

Laurie Nigro
Laurie is the mother of two biological children and one husband and the caretaker of a menagerie of animals. Laurie is passionate about frugal, natural living. She was recognized by the L.I. Press Club with a “best humor column” award in 2016. Email Laurie