by Julien-Pierre Campbell
“Theodore, stop! Bad dog. Stop! Oh, my goodness — ahh! Babe, can you just grab the cat? No, the other cat. No, the other cat!”
I was ready to tear my hair out. See, I had just moved in with my fiance, and we were experiencing some growing pains, particularly in the pet department. The house was a zoo. I took a step, yowling cat in my arms, and tripped over the pit bull. He was whining, the cat was hissing at him, and from the living room, another cat was caterwauling for dinner.
“Oh my goodness!” I released the cat I was holding. She hissed and spat, then turned tail for the closet. The dog continued to whine. Finally, somehow, we fed all the pets dinner. The hysteria settled down. I locked eyes with the person I was spending the rest of my life with. A thought crossed my mind: You’re also spending the rest of your life with all these animals!
I live in a two-bedroom apartment. It’s a really lovely place. My roommates, a married couple, are the sweetest ladies in the world. Our location is great! And of course I live with the love of my life! Always a positive. The only problem: in our small square footage, there are five cats and two dogs. Four of those cats are bonded pairs who hate the others. The fifth is lovingly referred to as “the bastard” for his propensity for biting. Two of the cats hate dogs. One of them — mine — had never met a dog before and doesn’t know what to think of them. Most of the pets cannot co-exist in the same room. All this to say: it’s been an adjustment period.
Part of being 20 is, I think, figuring out how to exist in the world with other people. What I hadn’t anticipated was learning to exist with their pets. Dinnertime at my house is never dull. Homework may feature a 55-pound pit bull sitting on your lap. Taking a shower generally includes a blind chihuahua licking your toes. There is much breaking-up of catfights and rescuing the dog when the cats gang up on him.
For all the chaos, though, it’s wonderful. This is what it means to be young. A little mess, a little negotiating, and some craziness are all part of life. Our pets are so, so loved. Many of them have come from abusive homes or were strays. Now they live in a house with four parents who adore them and totally spoil them.
I have never lived with this many animals, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. Of course it’s hard and chaotic, but it’s fun. We pride ourselves on how well taken care of our little monsters are! And if they’re happy, I’m happy.