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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Rent-A-Pet

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
They say that if you want to stay ahead of the curve you have to follow the folks out in California. Iím not certain that this is always true but it is interesting to see what they manage to come up with from time to time. If not to imitate, then just to talk about and snicker behind their backsÖ..

The latest trend announced just this week is a service for people who like dogs and cats but donít want to actually own one. So what do you think they are doing over in the golden state? Renting them. Thatís right, they have rental services for people who donít want the hassle of buying a pet, housetraining them, feeding them, taking them to the vet and having them around 24/7, 365 days a year. So they rent out cats and dogs to Californians who want to stop by, pick up an animal for a few hours and then turn them in later on in the day. No fuss, no muss, no nothingÖjust a few hours of love and affection and then off you go to your Pilates or yoga session or whatever.

I gotta tell you folks, this is weird.

First off, Iíve had dogs and cats all of my life. Iíve never had a bad one yet. Well, except for one demented cat and a couple of super hyper dogs which we didnít keep very long. All of our other animals have brought me countless hours of joy and love. I canít imagine life without a pet. I cannot see how anyone could get attached to a rent-a-pet. I used to ride horses at a stable in Houston when I was a kid. My favorite horse was named Socks. He (she?) cost $3.00 for two hours of riding. I liked the horse but never really felt as if the horse was mine or that I had any strong personal attachment to it. It wasnít like I felt the horse was a real part of my family, it was just a horse I rented when I wanted to go riding. Looks to me as if renting a pet would be pretty much the same. How can you get attached to something that isnít yours?

I suppose the next step out in LaLa land is to rent-a-kid. You donít want the responsibility of actually having a kid of your own. Canít handle the costs or the obligation to raise it for many years, so you just pick and choose one youíd like and bingo, there you are. Maybe you need one for some charity event and you donít have any relatives near by so you call in your order. You can pick one up from the checkout center, take him or her out for a movie or dinner and then turn them in by midnight and pay your bill with a Mastercard or Visa. Simple and easy. No need to remember birthdays or holidaysÖjust shop and drop.

Now I donít know if they are actually renting children out there as of yet, but I wouldnít be a bit surprised. I do know they have rent-a-dummy services that provide you with a blowup model of an adult that can be used to sit in the front seat of your car so you can drive on the contra flow lanes and not get a ticket. The cheap ones get caught all of the time. So taking a kid out for a few days to show off the parental side of your personality certainly would not surprise me in the least.

What never ceases to amaze me about this part of the country is the how cold and removed a lot of the citizens seem to be about reality and relationships. Now I was born in California, but never lived there and Iím sure there are plenty of nice people out there just like you and me. But, they do seem to have an overabundance of kooks and nuts than the rest of the nation. I suppose we tend to only notice only the bad things about people and places. Maybe Iím just overreacting, who knows?

About the only thing left to rent in California, after pets and kids, would be wives. But then I think Nevada has the lock on that service. Then again I might be wrong, Iím surprised there isnít a reality show on television about some rent a wifeÖ..there may be and I just missed it. Check it out and let me know. I donít really care to look for it myself.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

August 16, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers


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