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Opinion: Animals have overtaken our lives, and we're having a wonderful time

Scott Simon has a new, foster cat in addition to a dog and hamster.
Scott Simon
Scott Simon has a new, foster cat in addition to a dog and hamster.

As my wife puts it, "Animals have overtaken our lives."

I was on the air last week when Daisy, our French poodle, devoured a bittersweet chocolate bar. We hide chocolate from her; it can be dangerous for dogs. But Daisy is the Hercule Poirot of concealed sweets. An empty wrapper in her paw-pads told the tale.

Our family rushed Daisy to a veterinary clinic, where — well, I'll spare you the details. Daisy is fine now, but our hearts are just restarting.

We are also caring for a huge, white foster cat we've dubbed Gato Blanco. He claws furniture on his hind legs, like Catzilla tearing down a Tokyo bridge. Every chair in our apartment is now covered with sheets, towels, or plastic wrap. We keep a window open, no matter the weather, because one of our daughters is allergic to cats. But she wants to keep Gato close, even as he swats photos, flowers, pens and my microphone off tables, with a smart forehand.

Our feline lodger also climbed onto a planter outside our apartment and strolled over to the other side of the building, seven floors up. Is that Spider-Man? No — it's Gato!

Our other daughter has made her bedroom into a kind of Roamin' Colosseum for Bagel, the miniature hamster, who has a racecourse and an exercise wheel. I hear Bagel scurry inside her wheel so furiously, I am pretty sure she's training for this summer's Hamster Olympics in Paris.

Daisy the dog sits beneath our dinner table, quivering and blinking her large, dewy eyes that play on our heartstrings like a Puccini aria. Some of us may let a few stray morsels fall her way from time to time. We can't let her get too excited, though, because she has a tendency to ... well, more details to spare. We keep towels handy for such episodes of excitement.

Gato Blanco, meanwhile, leaps onto our table. But not to eat, just to hang with the cool kids, our daughters. "Hey, how was your day," I imagine him saying. "We gonna watch something after dinner?"

Our family may gripe as we sneeze, mop, and search the floor for our missing pens. But we also hold our animals close as they help us laugh, marvel, and care for them, and for each other. Our lives have been overtaken by our animals. And we're having a troublesome and wonderful time.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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