Achieving Balance and Harmony

THE SCOOP

Why Dogs Make the Best Companions

By Jon Bastian

Perhaps you’re considering something more exotic than a dog as a family pet, but there are some animals that just shouldn’t be part of your household. Here are six of them.

1. The Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are adorable little balls of fur. Resembling tiny porcupines but not as sharp, they are friendly and docile and will sleep in your hand. Nocturnal creatures, they will snooze all day and you will stare at their undeniable awesomeness — their smiling little faces, and their cute little feet.

Did I mention that they are nocturnal? This means that they get up at night, when you’ve gone to sleep, and run on their precious little hedgehog wheels. All. Night. Long. You get to listen to the endless squeak-squeak-squeak. They don’t even stop when they have to poop. They just keep running. If you have an open-rimmed hedgehog wheel, you can only imagine the consequences when the source of the projectile is inside of — and powering — the proverbial fan. All. Night. Long.

2. The Tiger

If you think that a tiger cub is just a slightly larger but still cute and adorable kitty, you’d be right — for about a year. Although they don’t reach maturity until anywhere from three to six years, twelve months out of the box, you’ll find yourself with a fur ball weighing over half of its typical adult weight of seven hundred pounds, and well on the way to a length of thirteen feet. Suffice it to say that you won’t be going for any more trips in the family car together.

Adult tigers are also not very social. Just imagine a typical house cat’s aloofness, except on steroids, with much bigger, sharper claws and teeth. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. In Dubai, thanks to tiger cubs becoming a high-status pet among the super-rich, the streets are now crowded with abandoned, de-clawed, toothless former pet tigers. We already have enough stray dogs and feral cats around. No need to add SUV-sized predators to the mix when that tiny little cub is no longer so cute and cuddly.

3. The Sloth

It’s hard not to smile when you look at a sloth’s face, because many of them appear to have a permanent grin that would put The Joker to shame. With that and their expressive eyes, they’re alluring and friendly. And they’re sloths — they’ve given their name to the laziest of deadly sins, so if one ever did try to chase you, you wouldn’t have to run very fast. Like the hedgehog, the sloth is also nocturnal, but they don’t run on wheels. That would take too much energy.

There is one thing they do like to do, though. Stare at you while you sleep. During the day, that smiling face might be pleasant, but to wake up to it glaring at you turns it all kinds of clown creepy. And that isn’t a smile. It’s an evil grin, as the sloth slowly begins to realize that at the ends of its hands are some pretty fine claws that would be the envy of Wolverine. So, while you sleep, they watch. And they wait.

4. The Platypus

Along with the kangaroo and koala, the platypus is an iconic symbol of Australia, appearing on the 20 cent coin and serving as the official animal of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales. Unlike the kangaroo and koala, the ungainly platypus looks like it was assembled from leftover parts after a bargain basement sale. Up front, there’s a duckbill; at the back, a beaver tail. In between, it resembles an otter but, although it’s a mammal, it lays eggs instead of giving birth, and its eyes resemble those of certain fish or lampreys. The males are also venomous, particularly during the mating season from June to October.

Since platypuses have the unfortunate appearance of something that was sewn together in P.T. Barnum’s back office in order to dupe sideshow visitors out of their money, they would probably prove a disappointing gift for children. If you want to give them something cuddly in the middle but dangerous at either end, consider a cat instead.

5. The Monkey

If you’re thinking about adopting any kind of monkey as a pet, there are three words to keep in mind. “Don’t do it.” Smaller kinds, like squirrel monkeys and capuchins, absolutely cannot be housebroken, so you get stuck with a lifetime of simian diapers, or worse. Others, like orangutans or macaques, have some rather unsettling personal habits. But all of these problems pale in comparison to the chimpanzee. Our closest genetic relative, they are more like us than not, but truly resent not having shared in the same evolutionary lottery.

Among animal professionals, there is one thing that is agreed to be inevitable: If you have a pet chimpanzee, there will come a day when it will try to fight you. And it’s not a matter of if that day comes, but when. You see, when your chimp is an adolescent, there is a ritual that you absolutely must go through, or else you will never truly be the pack leader. You must engage your chimp in hand to hand combat, and you must win. It’s much easier when they’re younger, and it will establish you as the alpha for the rest of your relationship. You don’t even have to fight fair — chimps sure don’t. Wait until he’s off guard, then bang, right in the face. It may sound cruel, but it is nature’s way, and you will have prevailed in the necessary human ritual called Socking the Chimp. Or you could just not adopt any kind of monkey at all, and rescue a dog instead.

6. The Elephant

Now even talking about this one is just silly. No one wants an elephant in their living room.

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