A Million Universes – No shelter here

Nicole Alexandria 

Nicole Alexandria

After a long day out with my family, I opened the door to my apartment late one evening to see none other than a dead mouse. Had anyone else had keys to my apartment, I would swear it was placed there as a warning or message from a vindictive ex or a bitter arch nemesis telling me to keep my mouth shut. It was placed too perfectly just a foot beyond the walkway so I couldn’t miss it. Its mouth was open and its limp, lifeless body was laying on its side.

Right now is the first time in my adult life I have lived alone. For the past 15 months, I have maintained residence in my very own nicely-sized studio apartment in a downtown Philadelphia. It’s in the ghetto section. I love it. I come and go as I please. I don’t have interested parties asking me where I was or who I was with. I don’t have to entertain other people’s friends. I can (and do) walk around naked frequently. In certain instances, I can even have friends knock on my door in the middle of the night because they are drunk and locked out and I don’t have to explain it to anyone the following day. I can watch stupid guilty pleasure shows or listen to crappy pop music or porn and not worry about being judged. It’s perfect.

Prior to living alone, I had lived with roommates. A lot of people have great success with roommates. I am not one of those people. I think you have to be pleasant in nature, overly nice and accommodating to live with someone you are not boning. I am not that person. I am blunt and straightforward to a fault. There are times when I just do not want to talk. I want to sit and read, or I might be consumed in thought. Do not even try to talk to me in the morning unless you want to me glared at with a scowl that instills alarm and dismay. To further make matters worse, I have been a chronic insomniac since an early age. I will often wake up at all hours or the night or fall asleep when informative commercials begin airing.

Much to the shock and disbelief of my mother, who will recant epic tales of mountains of laundry piled in my room during my teenage years, I keep my apartment really clean. The reek of bleach and Lysol is at times cumbersome. Shortly after I moved in, I became aware of quite a few prehistoric looking centipede bugs who invited themselves inside. All this problem needed was a few eviction notices given with the back of a shoe and the apartment was mine again.

But now I have a dead mouse.

I screamed like a girl when I opened the door.

I have never before in my life wished I had a boyfriend so bad so I had someone to make clean it up. In addition, it came as a surprise. In my cleaning, I had not seen droppings or bite marks on corners of food items.

I had been debating for a little while the idea of getting a cat. I have a small little dog who I care for currently who I love more then about 99 percent of you. As I type, he is cuddled up on my stomach snoring. I work within walking distance from where I live, but there are still hours when he is alone while I’m at work or out living. I would not be able to feasibly care for another dog to keep him company, but a cat is relatively self sustainable. The benefit of a potential live-in exterminator swayed my vote and outweighed the drawback of added hair and litter to clean. I would have to take my chances on the unwanted pawing of my face alarm clock or having my furniture destroyed.

I began placing feelers to see if anyone had any leads on a kitten needing a home. Almost immediately, I was pressured to adopt from a shelter.

You can sick a singing Sarah McLaughlin on me all you want, but I did technically adopt my dog. A coworker had a puppy who needed a home. I accepted. Adopting from a shelter is a completely different ballgame though. I’m sure they have rules and restrictions to prevent hoarders and sociopaths from abusing animals, but for a normal persons who just wants to give one little kitten a home, you are met with opposition.

For starters, shelters rarely have kittens. I am aware that there are so many adult cats that need homes. But I don’t want a cat. I want a kitten. Why? Because they are the most adorable thing on the planet. I am inviting an animal into my home and agreeing to care for the span of his or her life. Of course I want it to start as a kitten! I want it to be fluffy and clumsy and playful while I can because we’re going to be living together for a long, long time.

Secondly, people who work at shelters are crazy. How do I know this? I’m a social worker. We can smell that particular type of crazy. Anyone working with any sort of person or animal extensively who has been abused or disenfranchised is bonkers. Because you have to be. The things I deal with on a daily basis are typically things most people ignore because it’s too hard to bear. Ideally you want people who can handle it and are in it for the right reasons, but due to the limitations and extreme burnout staffing is usually supplemented with people who are off emotionally and need to feel better about themselves by caring way way too much while imposing their personal standards on others.

Unfortunately many people go into this sort of line or work so they can fix other people or things because they can’t fix themselves. So in the animal shelter setting, a normal person looking for a pet for completely innocent reasons are met with suspicion and opposition by staff. The one and only time I took my dog to the ASPCA because he jumped off the bed wrong and hurt his leg, I was grilled several times about leaving him outside at night. After I assured them, though only 15 pounds he takes up more space on my bed then I do and he growls at me if I move and disturb his precious slumber, did they back down.

Furthermore, the application process to adopt is only less complicated than applying for a home mortgage. I can’t speak for many of you, but since I am a woman in her late twenties who lives alone, I’m not terribly partial to inviting strangers into my home especially so they can judge me. Unless they buy me a drink first maybe. And even then I have been building a book collection for years to impress for that very occasion.

Lastly, it’s expensive. Essentially, I am agreeing to care for an animal who needs a home desperately while being judged and met with suspicious glares and I am giving you a handful of money.

But if I don’t adopt, I get preached at and made felt like I’m a lesser pet owner. Damn you Sarah McLaughlin! Damn you straight to hell! You and your heart wrenching commercials.

I haven’t decided which way to go yet. I might still attempt to adopt. I might go to a pet store for the simple convenience.

But honestly right now I’m leaning towards mouse traps.

Nicole Alexandria is off doing cool things like a boss that you probably never heard of while not giving a single fuck all day every day. You can contact her through Facebook.

  1. Jane March 19, 2012
  2. nix March 19, 2012

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