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1944—Laundry and Lambs in the Basement

I am twelve years old. The basement of my house on Garfield Avenue includes a fruit cellar, laundry room, workshop for my father’s carpentry, and furnace. The fruit cellar contains preserves put up by my mother and grandmother—mostly strawberries, raspberries and other fruit picked in season—and nonperishable produce such as potatoes and onions. The fruit cellar is dark, with dirt walls and sometimes the tiny scampering sound of mice. Spiders crawl over the walls.

At the other end of the basement, the laundry area has an electric washing machine with a wringer installed just above it. Soiled clothes and linens are delivered to the area by a chute leading from the kitchen to the basement. My dream is to take a death-defying trip down the chute to the basement. By the time I’m old enough to have the nerve, I’m too big to fit in the chute.

Like everyone else, we have no clothes dryer. We never heard of them. Everything is hung in the back yard on a line after most of the water is squeezed out by the electric wringer. On a sunny day, the clothespins can be pulled off the clothes after a couple of hours and the dry laundry brought inside.

Laundry day is always Monday.  My job is to strip the beds and force the sheets down the laundry chute. Laundry baskets in our bedrooms are emptied into the chute. In the basement the lid has been removed from the square, industrial looking wash machine, with mother pouring fels naphtha laundry soap in the water.  Next she pokes clothes deep into the water with a long stick and jiggles it around the be sure they’re distributed evenly. Once Mother is satisfied, she turns the rotor on. As I watch the clothes swish back and forth, back and forth, the water turns grey. When mother has determined that the laundry is clean enough, it’s time to turn off the rotary blade and turn on the electric wringer, installed just above the machine.

This is the part I like best. “Can I run the wringer this time, Mom? It’s my turn. Pleeeze?”

“Your sister hasn’t had a turn yet, Barbara.”

“But she’s too little, Mom. Let me do it. Please?”

“No, it’s too dangerous.”

Even at the age of eight I know something is wrong with her logic. It’s true, the wringer is dangerous. You get your fingers too close and they’ll be mashed. At least that’s what Mother says. It hasn’t happened yet.

Sometimes the basement also serves as a temporary shelter for animals my father or grandfather brings home. This is always a happy surprise event. We don’t get any forewarning. If we did, Mother would never allow it.

We once have three beagle puppies at a time, thanks to my grandfather, who can’t resist puppies. They’re housed in the basement and named Spottie, Tiny, and Smokey Joe. My mother, fearful of my father’s frightening temper, doesn’t say anything when the whimpering puppies are carried to the basement. After a few nights of nonstop howling and barking, it’s too much for her. She doesn’t sleep a wink that night. To my dismay, the puppies are exiled to the garage.

We keep turtles and frogs in the basement, too, but somehow they always escape during the night. I never figure out where they go, although I suspect my mother has a hand in it.

The most exciting pet is a newborn lamb. My grandfather brings it home from a fresh meat market next to his and my dad’s produce business on the waterfront. The lamb is only a few days old and has to be bottle-fed every two or three hours. The worst part is not the nonstop feeding, but the nonstop pooing and peeing on the garage floor. Clean-up is my job.

Sometimes I take the lamb for walks around the block. By this time he has a name—Curly. I love the sensation Curly causes in the neighborhood. Of course, he’s right on my heels because that’s what lambs do. One day, my parents and fifth grade teacher agree that I can bring the lamb to school. I am very popular that day. The glow lasts for a day or two. Then a kid brings in a snake.

My mother puts up with a lot, but a newborn lamb is too much. Luckily, our family doctor, Dr. Wheelihan, agrees to give Curly a happy retirement on his family farm. Every Christmas we get updates on the sheep’s health. He lives to a ripe old age, old enough so that by time I’m sent off to college, I’ve forgotten about him.

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A Camel—The Perfect Pet

Opening the Gainesville Sun one Sunday morning, I glanced at the “Pets for Sale” section. Not that I need any more pets.

To my amazement, I find that someone is selling a female camel for $3200. Right here in Gainesville! How exciting!

Let’s see, I have an area about 50 by 20 feet in my side yard. A perfect place for a camel. I just have to buy a bunch of straw and a truckload of camel feed, and I’m in business. What do camels eat? Hell, I don’t know. I’ll find out from the person who’s selling the camel.r964423_10400496

Think of it, I can ride my camel all over Gainesville, to the wonder and amazement of all. I will be a celebrity. The $3200 is no problem. I’m making enough money in my freelance business. What better way to spend it than on a camel? (I have to admit, this notion might never have occurred to me after I quit drinking a year later.)

Thwarted

I call the camel owner. No answer. Drat.

An hour later, I call again. What’s the matter with her? Doesn’t she want to sell her stupid camel?

I’m so excited that I call my 40-year-old daughter to tell her about the camel. “You’ll never guess what, Julie!”

“What, Mom?”

“I’m going to buy a camel.”

“What did you say? A camel?”

 “Yeah, I found one in this morning’s paper, and I’m going to buy it and keep it in my side yard and ride it around Gainesville.”

Long pause.

“I hate to tell you, Mom, but you can’t do that.”

“And why not?”

“Don’t you know that camels’ feet are ruined on cement? They have to walk on soft ground, like sand in the desert.”

I am crestfallen. “Well, rats. I guess I can’t buy the camel then.”

“Probably not, Mom.”

Well, there goes one great idea out the window.

Tricky Daughter

A year later, the subject of the camel comes up in a phone conversation. We are both laughing at my folly. I say, “Good thing you knew that about camels’ feet, Julie, or I might actually have gone out and bought the thing.”

Julie smirks. “I just made that up, Mom. To talk you out of buying the camel.”

Which Are Better—Dogs or Cats?

According to many people, dogs are the ideal companion animals—better than cats, that’s for sure. They find cats irritating. Other people favor cats. The opposing camps maintain that the two species are like day and night. Forget that cats and dogs aren’t far apart on the phylogenetic scale and, in the bargain, they’re the two most commonly domesticated animals.

When dog supporters and cat lovers face off, you’ll sometimes hear them say, Hell, dogs and cats even hate each other. The dog is ready to shake a cat’s neck in its jaws until it’s dead. The cat, on the other hand, will jump on a dog’s back and ride it to hell.

Those of us who own both cats and dogs know this reasoning is more a reflection of the source than of reality. Humans are notoriously ego-invested in their pets. When people are vehement about the virtues of one species over the other, there’s something going on.

A guy has a Weimeraner he’s training as an attack dog. To him, Bruno is an extension of himself. This man has nothing but great things to say about dogs. They’re macho (his dogs, anyway), strong, brave, and self-sacrificing. They would die for you. In other words, everything a guy needs to feel good about himself.

This man hates cats. In his eyes, they are sneaky, self-serving, effeminate, and vain. He’s almost ready to forgive a close friend who has just adopted a cat. (If you can imagine such two guys being friends.)

In the cat-lover’s book, his friend’s Weimeraner is a dirty, unfriendly, sloppy suck-up. The cat lover believes there’s nothing more enchanting than Chloe’s feline grace, discrimination, and independence. He doesn’t expect her to whine with pleasure at the prospect of getting a treat. He admires the way she comes and goes without permission. He even gets a kick out of her clawing on the furniture occasionally, bringing a dead rat in the house, or waking him up at 4 am in the morning.

They’ve both got a point.

 

 

Introverted Animals and Their Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Animals are more complicated than most of us realize. We can appreciate the many sides of dogs and cats that live with us, but wild creatures are a different story. Because they live in their own worlds and we aren’t close to them, we underestimate their intelligence, intuition, and altruism. We think they’re simple beings. They’re not. They’re as varied as we are.

This is an introduction to the introverted (I) members of the animal kingdom: the owl, sloth, deer, octopus, wolf, beaver, meerkat, and house cat. Unlike extraverted (E) animals, the introverts are generally quiet and often shy.

INTP: Owl

Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving

intp-owlLike most INTPs, owls have logical minds. They’re mindful and quiet. They’re solo operators and don’t socialize with other owls unless they’re mating. They don’t have patience with rules, even those laid down by other owls. While they’re not very friendly, they’re perceptive and wise.

As pets, owls never lose their wild behavior unless hand-raised from birth. People who use owls for falconry can tame baby owls, but only if they bond with them from the time the owlets open their eyes. Taming these birds is a challenge. An owl is an independent creature and never becomes affectionate unless it’s hungry. Owners who allow them the freedom of their houses are likely to find plants knocked over and glassware broken on the floor. They also have to deal with owl droppings on their curtains and upholstery.

ISFP: Sloth

Introverted, Sensitive, Feeling and Perceiving

isfp-slothLike human ISFPs, sloths are easygoing peace-makers. They take things as they come and live in the moment. In the company of other sloths, they are caring, mellow and considerate. While they have principles, they don’t make an issue of them. They avoid confrontations or standing up for their rights. While people think of them as lazy, what’s closer to the truth is that they’re just more laid back than humans.

Some people keep sloths as pets. The can become quite dependent on their owners, and they’re gentle with kids. Since they move slowly, they’re no trouble to keep up with. However, they do need large living spaces and plenty of tall climbing equipment. They must be kept in a consistently warm environment to maintain their body temperature. They need special diets with just the right amount of trace ingredients, and their veterinary care is costly. Finally, owners should be prepared for the long haul, as sloths can live to be thirty.

ISFJ: Deer

Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging

isfj-deerAs ISFJs, deer are serene creatures, but they’re alert to everything in their environment. Their acute powers of observation help them avoid danger. They make themselves scarce during hunting season, avoid predators, and are even careful to avoid cars on busy roads. With their own species, they value harmony and show respect. The few people who live with them describe them as sensitive and trustworthy.

Not many people have been able to keep deer as pets. If not reared from their early days of life, they remain wild. Occasionally, humans have rescued fawns and raised them by hand. When this happens, deer often become loyal pets, even making friends with other animals in the house. They can be house-trained if they’re given access to the outdoors. However, an indoor life is unnatural for deer. They need plenty of space to wander in and opportunities to run with other deer.

INTJ: Octopus

Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging

intj-octopusDoes the octopus have enough personality to deserve a Myers-Briggs type? Like all INTJs, these sea creatures are independent, intelligent and creative. Octopuses are quite aware of their own sharp minds, solving difficult problems. And they’re smart enough to know when a challenge is too much for them. Unless they’re looking for a meal, they ignore other ocean life. They work alone.

Marine biologists say that the octopus may be among the smartest ocean dwellers. Some move their arms in ways that copy the shape and movements of other sea animals. In captivity, they’ve been seen at play, much like children in a swimming pool. They grab toys in the water, then let them go in a circular current so they can catch them again. They escape from aquariums in search of food. They’ve even climbed into fishing boats and opened boxes to eat crabs. It’s unrealistic to try making a pet of an octopus.

 INFJ: Wolf

Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging

infj-wolfINFJ wolves, like their human counterparts, have morals and values. Often creative and inspired, they re skilled at sensing emotions in others, but they’re not likely to reveal much of themselves until complete trust has been established. Still, they are intensely concerned with the well being of their friends and families. They tend to remain mysterious and complex even when others know them well. Pack members see alpha wolves as protectors and natural leaders.

Few people keep wolves as pets because socialization isn’t possible unless a wolf pup has been adopted within the first 2 weeks of life. For the first 4 months, the puppy needs to be kept away from other dogs in order to bond with owners. Pet wolves can become unpredictable and dangerous when they reach adulthood. These intelligent and dominant animals aren’t meant to live with humans. All wolves need 10 to 15 square miles of free space for exercise. They are running, hunting animals, always on the move.

ISTJ: Beaver

Introvert, Sensing, Thinking and Judging
istj-beaverLike all ISTJs, beavers are logical, hard-working types. They’re organized and live by team rules. They have a reputation for taking a practical approach to everything. When busy building and maintaining their dams, they’re dedicated workers who will do whatever is needed to get the job done. Like their human counterparts, they aren’t always easy to get along with. Both males and females get into fights on occasion, and many have scars on their rumps from being bitten by other beavers.

Beavers don’t make good pets. They need rivers to live in. Can they be kept in a pool? Only if the owner is willing to clean out the feces (poop), because beavers defecate in water. Any furniture in the house will be reduced to wood chips. And beavers will use their skills as busy workers to rearrange pillows and other household items. Then there’s the matter of size. Many grow to be more than four feet long and weigh over 50 pounds. Even zoos find beavers hard to keep.

INFP: Meerkat

Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving

infp-meerkatINFP meerkats are loyal to their families and friends. They stick together and live according to their values. Their behavior reflects an innate idealism and desire to coexist peacefully. They are curious about everything that goes on around them and are open to new experiences. However, when any of their family is threatened, they rise to the cause and get aggressive.

Like most INFPs, meerkats are easygoing and friendly, but they have alert minds. In the wild, they guard against danger by giving one family member the job of sentry while the others search for food. Some people, drawn by media images of these furry creatures, adopt them as pets. Usually, the work and risks are more than they bargained for. While meerkats can be cuddly, they also tend to destroy household belongings and sometimes hurt children. Their special diets and veterinary care are expensive, too.

ISTP: House Cat

Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving

istp-housecatAs a typical ISTP Myers-Briggs type, the house cat is a study in contrasts. Cats are quiet and analytical, always trying to figure out how things work. But they’re easily bored. They’re keen to move on to the next adventure. As ISTPs, they’re often daredevils racing around or jumping off high places. If they were human, they’d be bungee jumpers. They’re live-and-let-live types, not particularly concerned with rules, regulations, or the good opinion of others.

As pets, house cats have many of the same qualities as their wild cousins, including bobcats, tigers, and leopards. The pet cat is just a lot smaller and therefore less dangerous. However, pity the mice that think it’s safe to be around one. Pet cats have the same basic instincts as jungle cats. They stalk prey, sharpen their claws, climb trees, and leap from one surface to another with grace and beauty. ISTP cats are sometimes sociable, but often they’re aloof, enjoying their private space.

 

 

 

 

Extraverted Animals and Their Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Animals have complex personalities. Some seem almost human. Those of us who love dogs and cats know this, but wild creatures are a different story. They live in worlds apart from us, so we underestimate their intelligence, intuition and altruism. They’re not simple beings. They’re as varied as we are.

In another blog, we describe introverted (I) animals: the owl, sloth, deer, octopus, wolf, beaver, meerkat, and house cat. Here we describe the more sociable species, the extraverted (E) animals: the fox, lion, otter, dolphin, honeybee, parrot, elephant, and dog.

ESTP: Fox

Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving
estp-foxLike most ESTPs, foxes look for pleasure in life and want to share it with others. ESTPs are charismatic and dramatic. They’re spontaneous and fun to watch. They know how to influence those around them. In this respect, foxes are like their ESTP human counterparts. If you’re looking for a good time, foxes will quickly endear themselves to you. They’re also quick-witted and can be tricky.

The jury is still out on foxes as pets. Farmers who keep chickens don’t have much good to say about foxes because they raid henhouses. However, some fox breeds have been domesticated to live with people. Families who adopt them say they’re as much fun as dogs and cats but more trouble. They must be kept in secure outdoor enclosures when not watched as they’re escape artists. Because of their high energy, owners need to provide them with tunnels, balls and chew toys. Left free to roam in the house, they make a mess. Also, they’re expensive to keep, considering vet bills alone.

ENTJ: Lion

Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging

 entj-lionAs ENTJs, lions are independent, logical thinkers. They live in packs called “prides.” Because they’re thinking (T) types, they don’t let emotions enter their decision-making process. That’s why they’re often seen as callous. But these fierce cats can be warm and nurturing with members of their group. They’re caring parents, protective of their cubs and relatives. At the same time, they’re enterprising and powerful. Just like ENTJ people.

The stories of lions as pets almost always have a bad ending. While lions are cute and cuddly as kittens, they have another 15 years of life to live as wild animals. Nothing can change their instinctive nature. There’s a good reason people don’t keep big cats in their homes. Families lose their homeowner’s insurance, their neighbors hate them, and they get frequent visits from the police, not to mention federal and state wildlife officers. And then there’s the expense of feeding them. Lions need to eat about 10 pounds of raw meat daily at least five days a week.

ESFP: Otter

Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving

esfp-otter As ESFPs, otters revel in the moment. They live at top speed. They’re playful, generous with others of their species, and always see the bright side of life. They love having new adventures with their friends. Learning things in a routine way is not their thing. They like to experiment. They’re intelligent and creative. The object of life is to have a good time and eat well, lying on their backs cracking open shellfish or zooming around underwater looking for fish.

Do otters make good pets? It’s almost impossible to own an otter safely and keep it happy unless you own a lake. If otters are taken in the house, they produce a strong smell. They can spray like a skunk. Some bite when they’re displeased. They have sharp claws and teeth. Plus, they eat several pounds of seafood a day, which could put quite a dent in a grocery budget.

ENFP: Dolphin

Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving

enfp-dolphinDolphins are so sociable that they make friends not only with their own kind but with other species such as humans. They’re keenly aware of the feelings and needs of those around them. They aim to please. Like most ENFPs, dolphins enjoy company and are seldom out on their own. They have boundless energy and enthusiasm. It’s not unusual for beach-goers to see groups of them playing offshore, performing in the water like synchronized swimmers. ENFPs, including dolphins, get bored easily and are always ready for new adventures.

Dolphins are not pets. Many people even question the ethics of keeping them in water parks. The capture of dolphins in the sea is a violent event and causes the families of these intelligent water mammals much pain—not unlike that felt by human families that have had a child kidnapped. Kids and adults who watch them perform are usually delighted. Animal welfare people take a different view.

ESTJ: Honeybee

Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging

estj-beeESTJ honeybees are civic-minded creatures that try to improve their society, organize their environment, and make improvements. They’re perfect counterparts to ESTJ humans. They’re good at making their needs and desires known. As strong believers in the letter of the law, they follow rules and regulations. No-nonsense bees are practical and direct and have little use for new experiences. Bees live in a complex, cooperative society.

Needless to say, there’s no such thing as a pet bee. However, humans have kept bee colonies since the Paleolithic Age, as shown in cave drawings. While many people keep bees for their honey, others use them to pollinate trees and plants. In recent years, urban bee-keeping has become popular. Families feed the bees by planting flowers that provide nectar and pollen. Just as ESTJ humans are “busy bees,” these tiny animals perform many chores: cleaning, making wax, repairing their hive, and feeding their young.

ENTP: Parrot

Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving

entp-parrotENTPs value intelligence and skill over all other things. They’re often described as witty, bright and resourceful. Parrots, the perfect ENTPs, can speak, hold conversations with their human owners, and even make jokes. They like to analyze every side of things and are creative thinkers and workers. They take pleasure in the company of others. ENTPs enjoy a constant flow of inspiration and jump from one challenge to another.

While parrots are hard to resist as pets because of their beauty and intelligence, owners often get more than they bargained for. The screeching and chattering can get tiresome. Parrots are cute when young but demanding when they reach adulthood. And they’re a long-term commitment, as they can live to be fifty years old. The exceptional minds of these birds make them both a joy and a challenge. Some talk and behave at the level of a three-year-old child. Parrots need an enormous amount of attention and care, more than most people can provide.

ESFJ: Elephant

Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging
esfj-elephantLike their human ESFJ counterparts, elephants are genuine and authentic. They care deeply for each other. ESFJ elephants bring out the best in those around them. They’re loyal and responsible to their families and members of their herd.They are tolerant of the faults of others. However, they’re also sensitive and their feelings are easily hurt.

Elephants are among the world’s most intelligent animals. They have larger brains than humans. They are highly compassionate and kind, even coming to the aid of other species—including humans. Because of the high intelligence and strong family ties of elephants, many believe that it’s morally wrong for humans to capture them and use them for entertainment, work or other purposes. Howeve, few people even think about getting a pet elephant. Those who do are signing up for enormous responsibility and expense. Elephants eat over 400 pounds of fodder and other foods per day.

ENFJ: Dog

Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging

enfj-dogLike ENFJ people, dogs like to have a wide variety of friends. Dogs who are confined alone often become depressed and irritable. Dogs are cheerleaders and love to greet their families with a face lick and wagging tail. They feel good when those around them feel good.They are the picture of loyalty, which they give freely and accept joyfully. Usually, they adapt to new groups easily, as can be witnessed at any dog park. They are truly team players.

Dogs, all descended from the grey wolf thousands of years ago, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Over 300 breeds of dogs are now recognized, ranging in size from the tiny Chihuahua to the huge Great Dane and St. Bernard. More than any other animal, dogs understand humans and bond with them. They learn easily. They’re hard workers, too, rounding up sheep and cows, doing police work, and even guiding the blind and disabled. Many families feel their homes wouldn’t be complete without a dog.