Written by Jackson Hoff
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Thursday, 27 February 2014

image for Pet Peeves Shamu watches for his next opportunity.

Hello. My name is Jackson Hoff. As a life-long editor of one publication after another, I feel it is my responsibility, occasionally, to supply a sharp, biting view of (insert topic here). I've thought long and hard about that responsibility. I think that was at breakfast like a week ago. I bet I spent 20 minutes straight kicking that around. I was deep into it when the cat knocked my pineapple juice over, and by the time I got that mess cleaned up, the mood had passed. But in passing, it did leave me with a thought about pets and the role they play in today's homes.

I'm confused, personally, at just exactly what their role might be. But I am certain of one thing. By and large, a pet in the normal American household does increase the level of stress in that home, more than anyone would care to admit.

If my 9 year old son, Flip, had jumped on the table and kicked that juice over, you can bet that he'd be the one cleaning that up, while I spent the next 5 minutes screaming down his throat, and revoking his 'net' privileges for the next 2 days. I get to scream and the stress is gone. The cat knocks it over, and I have no alternative but to clean it up myself and grit my teeth, lest Mrs. Hoff catches wind of my threats against Fluffy's life. And where is the stress? Right in the pit of my stomach, where it does the most good.

Stress.

Shamu, the family dog, unexpectedly decides to play tug-of-war with the dining room wall-to-wall carpet and pulls it halfway into the living room. Jinx the cat finds your good shoes the perfect place to drop a hair-ball. Weebo, the 90-cent gerbil finds himself at the vet's office 3 times in two weeks. And, good news! The vet pulls him through.

The point is, we all have like experiences with our pets. They cause us emotional ("Daddy. Mr. Tweets isn't moving. What's wrong with Mr. Tweets, Daddy?"), financial ("Mr. Hoff, as owner of the dog, we are holding you responsible for the barn fire, as well as the loss of cattle."), and social ("Hoff, maybe it would be a nice gesture if you would remove your dog from my wife's leg.") stress. Yet, Americans are loading up on pets of one kind or another at an alarming rate of 1.3 pets per household per year. Why are we doing this to ourselves? What drives us to introduce yet another dependent into our homes?

The answer, of course, is that we bizarre American people thrive on stress. We crave it, can't get enough of it, must have more of it. And, what the heck. If things at the office aren't too bad, and none of the kids has done any time in juvy hall lately, why not get yourself a nice, cute, fluffy, baby emu.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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