I am one of those sick individuals who loves animals more than people. King Kong is my Schindler's List; I routinely stop to coo over creatures I encounter (including squirrels); and I give away more money to animal rights and rescue organizations than I do to Habitat For Humanity and Heifer International, forgetting all the disposable income I spend on designer cat food, toys, and treats for my two great loves, Frog and Toshi. So why am I not rich? I ask this question in light of an email from an astute reader named Elisabeth, who pointed out a story in the latest issue of O: The Oprah Magazine in which writer and chronic depressive (I can relate!) Lauren Slater penned a piece about her dog Lila, who went blind and required $30,000 surgery, which she finally agreed with her husband to pay for by taking on more freelance assignments. What sort of freelance assignments? The best kind: those that involved writing very similar stories in the same month's issue of Self! Says reader Elisabeth:
So, I open up this month's 'Self' (Kelly Clarkson cover) and there's an 8 page essay illustrated by some models walking some dogs. It's a long-ass piece. So many words! And again, it's Lauren Slater writing about her dogs. Which is sort of HILARIOUS, considering the 'O' article. This piece was sort of incomprehensible, though (I think it was edited badly) and had some of the same insight on why wild, free animals are great and how her husband, who tolerates animals, ended up getting out of the chair or something because there were dogs. It wasn't a very good piece. But now we know how this dog afforded surgery!Yes. Yes, we do. And on that note, I'd like to invite women's magazine editors (Gayle King, can you hear me?) or book publishing house editors (perhaps, ahem, William Morrow's Mauro DiPreta?) to savor the following anecdotes about my beloved cat Toshi, who has been holed up in a cage at the vet's office since Wednesday because of a blocked ureter, a flaky ultrasound technician, and my own fear that if I take him home, he'll die under my own care. Toshi is 11 years old, and, like the adorable Marley from Marley & Me , is a bit of a dunce. But also lovable and complex! To wit:
- He's intellectually curious. Toshi not only sleeps on unread issues of The New Yorker, he enjoys watching TV; particularly nature shows on Discovery, the news crawl on CNN and a special "Cat TV" DVD that my mom gave me (he really likes the birdfeeder and seagull scenes).
- He's a clean-freak. Once, after I left a pair of um, particularly dirty panties on the floor, Toshi walked by, took a whiff, and proceeded to cover them up with a nearby T-shirt.
- He's a tortured artist. After a while, the piles of cat chuck he leaves on the carpet begin to look kind of avant-garde.
- He's a pervert. Toshi likes to try to mount his brother Frog when feeling stressed or agitated, like when I listen to audio clips of bird-songs on the computer (eh, don't ask).
- He's sober (except for the occasional toke of catnip). And he looks nothing like Lindsay Lohan.