Trendy pets: What happened to pet rocks?


So what does go through a person’s mind when they decide that only an alligator will do?

Or perhaps a black bear, tiger, or cheetah as a pet. Was the pet store fresh out of great white sharks and killer whales?

Scary pets. Wild and potentially vicious animals as pets have apparently become a trend.

Oh, how we have strayed from the innocent days of the simple pet rock. Worse, we all know that once something becomes trendy it will be usurped and adapted by all the truly stupid among us.

It starts with one guy who maybe has a really good reason for owning a dangerous exotic animal as a pet. (I can’t imagine what this reason may be but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt here.)

Then, suddenly it’s an epidemic. Everyone has to have a share of the home zoo pie.

‘Bearly.’ Sadly, I believe we have reached that stage in near record time.

In the past few weeks the news has featured no less than three stories of various “exotic” (read: dangerous) animals being kept as pets.

Keeping in mind that I live in what city friends lovingly term “the far side of nowhere” (easily distinguished from the “middle of nowhere” by the fact that even the middle of nowhere has a Starbucks), I believe statistics will bear out (ugh!) that when pet pumas and not-so-brotherly caged bears start showing up in my region’s back yards, we, as a nation, have finally lost our collective minds.

Honestly now, I understand everyone has different ideas about what constitutes a great pet.

Some folks, for example, are bird lovers. Well by all means have a little parakeet or what have you. Be my guest. No one ever got pecked to death by a rogue parakeet on a rampage. (Did they? I suppose only Animal Planet knows for sure.)

Have at a hamster or fluffy little gerbil (just vermin with better press agents, I say). I know plenty who love the little critters.

Dogs and cats. Dogs and cats it goes without saying are an easy-to-grasp concept. We really only start to get nervous when the sheer volume teeters toward insanity.

One to two dogs is a sign of a person who really likes dogs. Ninety-nine dogs is the six o’clock news crew trailing the humane society to your door.

Cats and dogs. Nonetheless, it’s not a hard sell that cats and canines make great pets.

I am even including the really snooty cats that pretend to hate you even as you feed them and see to their every need. There is a certain dysfunctional love there I can grasp.

I will have you know I’m not a pet puritan by any means. I can even extend my imagination to a little potbellied pig (I hear they are very clean actually. If they do windows, I might get one myself!)

Are you crazy? However, I have to say that if you are keeping a cheetah, alligator, or bear in your backyard – or bedroom – I think you need professional assistance.

It is clearly a a cry for help. And not just when your “pet” is gnawing on your sternum.

I mean c’mon – an alligator? What possible feedback and comfort do you get from a large, grumpy creature easily capable of ingesting you?

I forget to bring home a dog treat – my dog maybe eats a sofa cushion.

Cheese off your pet alligator and he eats your neighbor’s kid. Is this really a good plan?

This isn’t even excusable as one of those things that start out cute and then turn ugly later.

Like a puppy from the pound that you somehow, in a moment of madness, didn’t figure would turn into a 100-pound dog with a bad attitude.

Bad idea. Are teeny baby alligators or pythons any cuddlier and cuter than grown-up ones? Is a person somehow lulled by their big, sad (scaly?) eyes and struck unaware that this is a bad idea?

It bears repeating, is a baby lion, tiger, or bear (oh my!) one of those things categorized under “it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time?”

If so, does it never occur that as pet-related decisions go, these could come back to bite you? Quite literally.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has her hands full with a cranky cat. Visit her at or write P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.