The saying goes…you get out of it what you put into it. Wise words, I’m sure you will agree. And mostly true. Except when it comes to my pets.

Over the years I have learned that while I like animals, pets are not the wonderful ‘blood pressure lowering,’ ‘always giving,’ ‘lovable’ creatures they’re made out to be. I call it the pet owner conspiracy.

Case in point: My pets. We have 3 cats, several goldfish, and a dog. They are all a big stressor in my life. I have tried to get the benefits I’m supposed to get out of them, starting with petting the furry creatures (the fish don’t seem to like this so I’ve given up on them). Seems like a win-win situation, doesn’t it? I get to relax with the soothing motion and they get, well, petted. Except…every time I pet my cats, my allergies kick up. So I startle them with my sneezes and then I get claw marks all over my body as they briefly freak out. Then I have to get up and blow my nose, which ruins the whole relaxation effect, as well, because now I’m standing up and the cat has fled the scene. And every time I pet our one cat, Beanie (we used to call her Sabrina – but that’s just too nice a name – now she’s Needy Beanie), it just kicks in her neediness and she gets all clingy and the claws come out so she can cling even better and she goes nuts if you try to stop petting her. When I try to pet our lab, she ends up chewing on my hand.

And what about that joyful greeting when we get home that other pet owners have said is so great? Well, we definitely get that from our dog…in spades. But we don’t want it. She jumps up on us, scratching our arms or backs with her toenails because we can’t fight her off as our hands are full of groceries, then she sniffs our behinds and crotches as much as she can before we push her away (what is that with dogs, btw? other than the obvious…). And then there’s the licking of any exposed skin. Gah!

My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it…

So what do I get out of my pets? Well, noise, for one. They meow or bark or gurgle throughout the day. They also leave me lovely messes around the house (except the fish, who I’m kind liking more and more as this blog goes on), from regurgitated matter to clumps of fur to backend deposits (especially the dog, who gets into dead things and gets sick and has to get outside fast in the middle of the night but doesn’t wake anybody so it ends up on the floor). I get claw marks on my furniture and doorways and clothes. My kids have holes in their shirts from when Dorrie was a puppy. The carpets are permanently stained.

So maybe I do get out of my pets what I put into them. Because I put food into my pets, so what I get out of them is…

_ _ it. You fill in the blanks.

I want to be an animal lover. I really do. I want to sit with my cats and pet them and they purr peacefully. I want to be able to play frisbee with my dog without the danger of losing a finger when I try to get the frisbee back to throw it again. Yet my fantasies of pet enjoyment just don’t ever seem to play out the way I think they’re going to (I blame commercials and advertisements, oh, and other pet owners who love everything their pets do – kind of like my mom).

So what does all of this have to do with writing and being an author? Besides the fact that I can relate everything back to those two things… Well, you get out of writing and publishing what you put into it. Blood, sweat and tears. Um, yuck. Why am I doing this again? I guess because I’m an optimist at heart, and a masochist, I suppose. Maybe I like to suffer. Or maybe my pets are sadists and they want me to suffer.

What’s that Dorrie? You just ate a dead bird? On purpose? After you dug another hole in the yard and peed on my carpet? And then puked up the bird?

Oh, dear Lord, I think my heart just exploded.