The Herald Bulletin

January 26, 2013

Maleah Stringer: Pets are worth being a little silly over

By Maleah Stringer
For The Herald Bulletin

— Every animal has a distinct personality, just like people; animal lovers know this only too well. It is amazing the things those of us who love our pets will do to assure that they have happy lives. It makes us happy, as well.

It is always entertaining to hear intelligent people lapse into baby talk when they encounter an animal, baby or a small child. It seems to be a universal language that we all know on some level. Do animals wonder why we resort to talking to them that way? I think they do! I know kids do!

My first greyhound, Nakai, was so shutdown and afraid when I got her she lay on a bed in the corner for 17 hours without getting up. She didn’t wag her tail. House training was nonexistent. We’d walk for hours and she had absolutely no desire to go to the bathroom, until we got home. Then she let it fly.

I decided to try something different. When we’d go out, I’d skip and sing and dance, trying to entice her to potty. I called it my poopy dance. It is what finally brought her out of her shell. The first time I did it, I swear I saw a little smile. Every time I took her out, she, and my neighbors, would watch me make a fool of myself.

I noticed changes in her after about a week of me acting like an idiot. She started to prance when she walked and was jumping and throwing herself around. And she was wagging her tail while she did it.

What she was doing looked silly — yet familiar. She was mimicking me with her own version of the poopy dance. The best part was she did her business outside. Nakai and I danced in the yard every chance we got. I had this wonderful creature for 10 years before she passed. I still miss her.

Bella, the greyhound who came after Nakai, is as different as she can be from Nakai. She’s outgoing and doesn’t know a stranger. But she gets a little funny if she is not getting the attention she believes she deserves. She refuses to eat. If she doesn’t eat she loses weight quickly and I worry. I then beg her to eat while I pet and hug her. She likes that. So now we have this routine that right after I set her food down I hug her and whisper in her ear, telling her how much I love her and how beautiful she is. She will not eat until I do this. She will stand and look at me until I do and, if staring doesn’t work, she leaves the room and peeks at me from around the corner. She has me trained well. It’s easier to do what she wants.

My pets make me laugh and fill my life with humor and joy. They give more than they get from us more often than not. This is why so many of us fight so hard to make animals’ lives better — to save them from abuse. They’re worth being a little silly over!

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at