I do enjoy the cats as individuals but I would be a dirty stinking liar if I told you that I grew up dreaming of a life where everywhere I turned, there would be little open feline mouths pointing up at me, wailing to be fed. Cats are great pets, but I had a more creative imagination when I was a child.
No, I didn’t just yearn for rabbits or chinchillas or miniature donkeys or miniature cattle — although of course I did want all of those things. I even wanted rare breeds of dogs, most notably a Borzoi, but that was before I understood anything about rescuing shelter pups and the sad weird state of “purebred” dogs. I wanted all kinds of pets back when it was probably my mom who would be the one taking over the actual care of them. This is also why I never had any of those pets. My mother is not a fool.
This article is instead about my dream of owning exotic pets. When you are a child with an undeveloped brain, you think things like that. It is called daydreaming, where life is good and there are no consequences. Of course as soon as you use an iota of critical thought, you know that wild animals are never tame, they are high strung and loud and messy, and let’s not EVEN talk about the evil exotic animal trade with their smuggling and horrors.
Be that as it may, I still daydream of a perfect world where pets are not “tamed”– they are just friends! Friends that magically take care of themselves and also are not bought and sold. Also, as I slogged through my memories, I laughed at my surprisingly limited number of animals I would have had as a pal. I guess most animals of the world need to stay in the wilderness, even in my fantastic imagination world.
Woodland Creatures, Generally
Who didn’t want to be Snow White? Those scenes where chipmunks and squirrels and other creatures of the forest helped her do chores influenced me at a young age. Maybe I would have wanted to do cleaning chores if little bunnies used their tails like dusters? I know people own skunks and foxes now, but I remain wary of the concept. If I could live in a place that didn’t have screens in the windows, and where deer would just open the door to come in and pay me a visit and NOT eliminate where they stood, upon my civilized house floor, then I would be happy.
The Ocelot and Cheetah
Hey! These are like a house cat, but way more unmanageable! Influenced by photos of wealthy people of the early 1900s, it seemed to me that cheetahs on leashes and ocelots next to Salvador Dali were every bit as tame as a tabby cat. I have no idea how these people dealt with spraying, clawing, biting, and yeowling. They probably just had them made into coats after one fashion season because people are all horrible.
There was a while when I had ponies that I never rode. They clearly didn’t enjoy it. They just wanted to graze, and who can blame them? Therefore, as I stayed inside, choosing to not be bitten by horseflies, I imagined a much mightier steed who would not notice me on its back, and who would have a bird friend who would keep flies away from us both. A rhinoceros (I wanted a black rhino then but I think I’d prefer an Indian one now) would be a kind and gentle friend who would surprise us all by charging angrily at perceived threats, even though there is nothing that could actually threaten it. Bonus Fact: my dad wouldn’t have wanted to build up the existing fences in order to keep it from wandering at will.
Giraffes are so good!! They are like very tall cows. They are calm and gentle, but it seems like if it accidentally stepped on you that would be a pretty bad situation. I didn’t think of that when I was a child. I only thought about how good it would be to pet its nose. I didn’t think about their terrifying tongues or how they probably eat a lot. Probably. They definitely eat a lot. By the way, I got to feed giraffes on my birthday last year and I learned that they are divas and I don’t want to share my home with one ever now unless it really proved itself as being good pal material first.
When I was little, we were one of those families who had a dog that was part timber wolf. They got him as a puppy during the 1970s and he only liked me, my brother, and my mom. He was an actually psychotic animal that had no moral code like most dogs, or even wolves. If he was a person, he would have been a mass murderer. He didn’t care. So, growing up with Stony, I knew better than to ever want a real wolf as a friend. But how about those amazing stilt-legged wolves from South America?! A maned wolf would bewilder people with its proportions and be able to get things from shelves beyond my reach but otherwise be exactly like a friendly dog such as a Golden Retriever. This is what I assumed would be the case, anyway.
Northern Bald Ibis
This one showed up late in the game, being an addition to my list probably in my 20s. I am not generally a fan of birds as pets, not even parrots. And I know I wouldn’t want an owl or anything with sharp beak or talons. Tall birds with wingspans would knock things over inside the house and flightless giant birds are frightening to me. Go away, emus. But this little guy here would stand on a perch by my reading chair and look like a real life bird version of a plague doctor. I assume they make an amazing raspy squawk. A deathly croak for all to shudder at. Also it’s an ibis! Way to Thoth, everyone.
As we all know, pangolins are struggling out there in the world today. If I had a pangolin, it would only be temporary as I was shielding it from poachers and running through a jungle, trying to find a safe place where they could never find it again. When I was little, though, my only knowledge of a pangolin was from a little reading book from second grade or so. There was a simple story about what a strange creature it was and my heart was caught. I had no idea how big it was, so I thought it was like the size of a dimetrodon of all things. We would have had the best adventures.