The Pet Set

Pets are both our friends and members of our families, so when something is wrong in the doghouse or litterbox, we want to make it right. Here are some of the more interesting problems that surfaced in the world of fin, fur and feathers this month:


Dear Pet Set:

Clyde, my second husband, has a 12-foot long Komodo Dragon that he keeps in the garage. I know it’s illegal and all that, but he is a big improvement over my first husband with his NASCAR knick-knacks all over the house. Clyde, that is, not the lizard.

Clyde was away last weekend on an overnight trip to a Charlotte Hornets road game. He asked me to take care of “Sparky” (that’s the lizard’s name) and left me detailed instructions that he attached to the freezer door with a Bud Light magnet. I am near-sighted and needed to look more closely at the list, and wouldn’t you know it I dropped it and it slid under the refrigerator.


There’s no way I can move an appliance that big all by myself, so I “wung it.” I knew I was supposed to feed Sparky and take him for a walk, but I couldn’t remember which came first. We were out of Komodo Dragon Chow, so I figured I would walk down to Pet World and get him a box. Along the way we encountered “Mimi,” the toy poodle owned by Judge Harlan and his wife Ethel.

I don’t know what that dog was doing outside, but Sparky goes into his slink and before you could say “endangered species” I didn’t need to buy more pet food.

Plie de la derriere.


When Clyde walked in the door first thing I said was “We need to talk”, and he says “So you know?” I said “Know what?” and it turns out Clyde has been carrying on with one of the Hornets’ cheerleaders since the 2021–2022 season!

Well, of course this marriage is over–finit–done. What I want to know is, who is liable for the death of Mimi? Judge Harlan is a lawyer and has sent me a threatening letter. I know I was walking Sparky, but dammit, he’s not my dragon.

Vicki Lee Hathaway, Raleigh NC

Dear Vicki Lee:

As the owner of a dangerous animal Clyde remains liable for property damage that it causes even if you were acting as his duly-authorized agent at the time of the tragedy. My heart goes out to the Harlans in this, their time of grief.


Pet Set:

I read somewhere recently that two pets of the same sex who live together can become “gay”–I think it was in Parade Magazine last Sunday. I have two male cats–Okie and Rocco–and what I want to know is, okay, gay is fine, but sado-masochism?

Okie is the older and heavier of the two, but whenever Rocco comes up to him Okie rolls over on his back and lets Rocco pound the ever-loving crap out of him. Is this normal or should I be worried?

Mrs. Kimberly Harris, Scranton, Pa.

Dear Mrs. Harris:

Male animals typically establish “pecking orders” of dominance based on physical strength and aggressiveness–the same hierarchical behavior that causes human males to fight over women and compete for promotions to regional sales manager. Okie and Rocco are apparently comfortable with their respective roles in your household, and you should respect their mutually-acceptable arrangement.


Dear Pet Set:

A few weeks ago our daughter brought home a boy from college–I will call him “Erroll.” He makes “documentary films”–la-de-freaking dah. She’s been dating him for a while. Little skinny guy, goatee, kind of a know-it-all. Fritzie, our Schnauzer, took one look at him and started barking to beat the band. “Erroll” just sort of curls his lip and says “Hmm–that dog is distrait.” What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Verne Benson, Medina, Ohio

Dear Mr. Benson:

Webster’s defines “distrait” to mean “inattentive or distracted because of anxiety or apprehension.” I think “Erroll” meant “distraught”–”agitated with doubt or mental conflict.” It is common for undergraduates to experiment with more complex words during their college years in order to expand their vocabulary, with often comical results such as you report!


Mr. or Ms. Pet Set:

We have a four year-old daughter who is fascinated with salamanders. Recently she snuck (sneaked?) one into her room and kept it in her bed overnight. Of course the thing died for lack of water, ruining a new fitted sheet I had purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Do you know what their return policy is for housewares damaged by amphibians? It seems to me that if I told them that the salamander crawled in the window, that would be more believable than if I said my little girl actually likes the icky things.

Thank you in advance,

Estelle Berger, Overland Park, Kansas

Dear Ms. Berger–

I am appalled that you would even think of trying to defraud a reputable company with such a cock-and-bull story! People who abuse merchandise return policies drive up the cost of retail goods for honest customers. I don’t who is slimier–you or that poor salamander!

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

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