The Pet Shop: Snake, tarantula, scorpion and nagging want for a dog | Blog: The Pet Shop


I own a California King snake, named Alice after rock and roll legend Alice Cooper, a tarantula and a scorpion. While I love my pets, I wouldn’t call any of them cuddly.

I pick up Alice and let him slither through my hands, his tongue flicking and his rippling muscles, but I’ve never felt an urge to cuddle him.

He’s bitten me more than once thanks to poor eyesight. He mistook my thumb for a mouse. The fact Alice has struck me more than once is a clear argument against having a venomous snake or anything venomous for a pet. No matter how careful you try to be, you’re going to get bitten.

Over the years, I’ve toyed with getting a dog, but I’ve always lived in apartments. My landlords have not allowed pets except for things in a terrarium, and leaving a dog alone all day is a bad idea. That’s never completely ended the temptation to get one.

We bring a dog from the Mercer County Animal Shelter to the newsroom once in a while and make him or her our honorary newshound for a day. That fortunate dog is usually adopted right away.

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One of those dogs was Maggie. She was soon camped out next to my desk and following me around. Maggie was shy, but I thought we hit it off. If only I had a place to keep her. I understand a rescue organization helped her out later.

I often find myself writing the Daily Telegraph’s dog and cat stories, so I was asked to write up a story about a tribute to the late Betty White, who played characters on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls.” She was an animal lover as well as a star on TV and the movies, so fans are asking the public to donate to their local animals shelters and animal organizations on Jan. 17, which would have been her 100th birthday.

Besides monetary donations, White’s fans can also donate pet food, cleaning supplies, blankets and other items to their local shelters. Donations usually decline after the Christmas holidays, so honoring White will give them a needed boost.

Naturally, we needed a photograph to go with the story, so photographer Jessica Nuzzo went to the Mercer County Animal Shelter and got a picture of a cute puppy. It looks like a hound and has that “please take me home” look.

I groaned inwardly when I saw that cute, appealing face. Why did I have to see that? I had a beagle when I was growing up. The dog itch had bitten me again. I get bitten almost every time I have to visit an animal shelter.

There’s usually at least one dog that appeals to me and makes me start wondering about appropriate names. I might dub a big dog Vader or Boba and a grayish dog Gandalf. If the dog’s female, I might name her Marilyn or something like that.

Adoption helps reduce the numbers of homeless dogs and cats needing assistance, and the numbers are reduced even more by spaying and neutering. I’d get that taken care of as soon as possible if I had a dog or cat. I’m more likely to adopt a dog. I have nothing against cats, but I consider myself a dog person.

Since I can’t have a dog, I plan to at least donate on Jan. 17 since I want to help out and I’ve always liked Betty White. I grew up watching her on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and I still remember the role she played in the dark comedy “Lake Placid.” In that movie, she plays an animal lover who speaks out for a gigantic and very hungry crocodile. I still remember when the authorities were hunting the croc and she said that she was “betting on the crocodile.”

I was betting on the crocodile, too. I’d love to have one for a pet if they didn’t get so huge and develop a taste for their owners. Yes, humans are supposed to be the top of the food chain, but crocodiles and alligators never got that memo.

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