In my attempt to pen the next bestseller, I’ve decided to shelve the story I’ve been writing about vampires and kick my wizard book to the curb. Instead, I’m going to write about a childhood pet. From Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love to An Eagle Named Freedom to Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, heart-warming pet books are totally kicking other books’ asses as far as publishing success goes.
Creatures we once saw as mere animals – dogs, cats, even rabbits – are actually leading extraordinary lives. Heck, I even saw a book about an owl.
Problem is I’m having trouble coming up with inspiring stories. At one point, my mother and I had two dogs, two cats, a parakeet, three chameleons, a fan-tailed goldfish and pair of mice. You’d think one of them could’ve brokered peace between estranged members of my family or taught us all a lesson in courage. But my pets could only squawk “hello” on cue or dawdle around a fish tank. Even the dogs and cats accomplished little more in life than staying off the sofa. Losers.
Still, I’m optimistic about my ideas.
Maggie: The Cool Dog I Wanted to Steal from My Grandma
My grandmother had a Lassie-esque collie named Maggie. She followed me around the neighborhood, barked in meaningful ways and got her feelings hurt whenever I had to yell at her to go away because my friend Binky Singleton’s sister was afraid of dogs. But it was the day Binky turned all the neighborhood kids against me in that wenchy way girls do, that Maggie became steal-worthy. I was crying beneath a tree in granny’s yard, when Maggie came over, dropped her head on my lap and gave me a knowing look as she wagged her tail. Was she smart enough to know I needed cheering up? I like to think so.
Lesson: Who needs wenchy girlfriends when you’ve got a great dog?
Sebastian the Bipolar Feline
Sebastian was a beautiful cat with fluffy, pure white fur and an adorable spot of grey on her forehead. She was also a complete whore. The cat would disappear for days then come home ratty and pregnant. She’d claw your leg as you opened her kitty food can and shriek in the night like a demon from the deep bowels of hell. One day, she nuzzled peacefully against my chest. The next, she killed my mice and ate the butt out of my parakeet. If Sebastian were owned by a pet owner today, I’m sure she’d be on anti-depressants.
Lesson: Beauty is only skin deep.
GG: The Gerbil with Wings
My family was too poor to buy my gerbil, GG, anything more than a fish tank, hamster wheel and that weird, mulch-looking stuff people put on the bottom of hamster cages. I used to feel bad watching GG run endlessly on his wheel into nowhere. So one day, I saved my allowance and bought GG a plastic ball he could run inside to roll around the apartment. Though the facial features of gerbils are hard to read, I’m fairly certain the ball became the highlight of GG’s rodent existence.
Lesson: Freedom is more precious than security. Secondary Lesson: Close the door of your gerbil’s plastic ball tightly if Sebastian the Bipolar Feline is around.
Richard, the Stoic Iguana
My uncle had an iguana he named after his friend, Richard. Living in small town Ohio where the most “exotic” restaurant was Arby’s, owning a lizard from South America set one apart from the masses. Richard didn’t do much besides eat lettuce and perch on a tree branch. Still, the only thing cooler than a kid with an iguana would have been a kid with an armadillo. And no one had one of those.
Lesson: Richard is a cool name for an iguana.
Other titles include Quackers: The Duck Who Loved Me about a duckling I had to give away after it attacked me outside a kiddie pool, Goldie: A Life Cut Short, about a fan-tailed goldfish who made the mistake of eating all the fish food flakes I accidentally knocked into its tank, and Mona: The Great Dane Who Puked Incessantly After I Fed Her Ten Bowls of Chuck Wagon to See How Much Food Would Fit into her Horse-like Body.
Coming to a bestseller’s list near you.