On the stairs "You become responsible forever, for what you have tamed", said the fox in chapter 21 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

My surrogate mother reads to me, which I basically think is a dumb idea. It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of boring. I'm supposed to sit there quietly while she drones on and on. But, I must admit, that fox knew what he was talking about. That wily old fox went on to say:

"If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me like music, out of my burrow." That's how I feel when I hear my surrogate mother come home. I know how he felt when he said "Please tame me" and I've given a lot of thought to what responsibilities a human must be willing to assume if he is to me my special friend.

Ask yourself these questions:
  1. Are you prepared to provide for me in your will, in case you predecease me?
  2. Are you prepared to either forgo vacations, or provide an animal sitter acceptable to me, or even take me with you?
  3. Are you prepared to have me destroy your most cherished possessions?
  4. Are you prepared to keep a carpenter and an upholsterer on retainers?
  5. Are you prepared to limit visitors to your house or to obtain liability insurance in case I bite anyone?
  6. And most important, are you prepared to spend hours with me each and every day at my whim?

If the answer is YES to all of the above, then you are ready to tame me which means, according to the fox, "to establish ties..if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world."

If the answer is NO to any of the above questions, don't even think about claiming me as a pet. I am prepared to survive in the wild until you tame me. After taming, I lose that ability. I cannot go home again.

Now, my parents have answered YES to all the above, but at some cost, emotional and financial, to them.

Take number 1, for example. With the help of a flabbergasted lawyer, they arranged in their will for me and any other pets to live out our lives in our own house with a live-in housekeeper. I think that's the least they could do! The very thought of being without them is terrifying.

Number 2, vacations, are a sore point with me. My parents are frequent flyers. They're always skittering off to hither and yon. They leave me in the care of the housekeeper. She's here five days a week anyway, so it's no big deal for her to be here on the weekends, too. The upside of this arrangement is that my routines remain pretty much intact (except I get depressed without my parents' attentions). That crafty old fox in "The Little Prince" said, "one must observer the proper rites...It would have been better to come back at the same hour.."; and he's right. If my routines are disturbed I become upset, then I get revenge. The downside of this arrangement is I don't like the housekeeper much.

Speaking of revenge brings me to number 3. Your most prized possessions are my prime targets. Every time you tell me "no" when I'm examining something, I add it to my list for future use. My basic philosophy is the same as the Mikado's, to "let the punishment fit the crime." Every time you irritate me, I'm going to get even. If you're late coming home, that plant you've nurtured for 15 years is a goner. And so it goes. Remember, I have no remorse nor guilt. I'm not a dog, after all.

I'm not the only one responsible for the carpenter and the upholsterer being on standby. The cats are worse than I am. However, I've been known, when angry, to chew up a door molding and to rip up antique upholstered chairs. I hardly see this as a big deal. My parents have the carpenter keep extra pieces of molding on hand and he installs them as necessary. Of course, they had to be made to order in the lumber yard with a special die, but that's not my problem. Whenever the furniture is completely re-upholstered, twice as much fabric as needed is ordered. That way, the following year, the upholsterer only needs to fix the part of the furniture that's been savaged. It's cheaper, by far, than re-doing the entire piece again. Mattresses on beds are simply replaced annually.

In my opinion, visitors are a pain in the derrière. Yes, I'm anxious to meet someone new, but they never live up to my expectations. For instance, the first thing I always do is climb on their laps to pin them down. Then I go through their pockets. Whatever is theirs is mine now. Occasionally, one of them tries to reclaim his previously owned object. Is it any wonder that I object? If he didn't want me to have it, he shouldn't have brought it into the house. The scenario goes something like this: He lunges for the object. I growl and snap at his hand. He tries to push me off his lap. I hang on with 2 feet, 2 hands and 40 teeth. the visitor is, by now, showing signs of extreme fear. This makes me nervous because I can't see what there is to be afraid of, so I get a bit aggressive - at this point, old ma usually intervenes by offering me a bribe of a quarter of an avocado to release the visitor. I never give in for less than half. See what I mean about visitors being a pain in the ass?

My parents are conservative souls. They invited their insurance agent over one night to review their liability over raccoon bites. After some hemming and hawing, they were able to get said coverage. You'd think I was vicious when, in truth, I'm just misunderstood.

Don't give me any effluent about quality time. If you tame me, then I need to interact with you every day. Some days I might only want a few minutes of your time. Another day I might need to spend the entire day with you. Don't tell me you're too busy and don't have time for me. If you do, I won't be your friend anymore. I'll simply be a wild animal caged in a house. As the fox said, "Men have no time to understand anything. They buy things already made in shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends anymore. If you want a friend, tame me. One only understands the things that one tames."

Back To FAQ Page

Back To Home Page