Im world-renown for my love of animals

Some male rats out there live on the wild side, making females "ooh" and "aah" over their wavy pompadours, hinting at the unbelievable high of drinking beverages containing 10 percent arsenic.

Some male rats out there live on the wild side, making females "ooh" and "aah" over their wavy pompadours, hinting at the unbelievable high of drinking beverages containing 10 percent arsenic.

Mark Hartley, Editor

Molly has white fur and is very gregarious. She loves people and seems disconsolate if we ignore her. Her soulmate, Xena, has brown fur and is definitely more shy. Xena started out life in a different household, but hanging around Molly in our house has gradually resulted in her being a more lively member of the Hartley family.

Part of me is sorry for having to say this, but I loathe both of them. Molly and Xena are rats. The wife and daughter consistently add the adjective "fancy" when I say, "Get the rats outta here!" But "fancy rats" just make me think of Lillith, the character on Cheers, and her adoration of lab rats.

The way I see it: Rats are our enemy. One of my favorite, spiritually uplifting news stories is when I hear about an exterminator successfully dispatching a whole nest of rats into the next life. Unfortunately, I`m the only one in the family who doesn`t yell out, "Rat killer!" at such stories. I mutter to myself, "Yeah, Bubba, way to go!"

I devoted this space in the last issue to describing how my dog has this hollow space between her ears, particularly when it comes to providing security services. I guess I`m not in line for winning any awards as an animal lover, huh?

Actually, I do think I`m in line for some kind of honorable mention. I despise rats with all my heart, yet Molly and Xena still reside in my house. As long as the rat lovers (wife, two sons, one daughter) keep Molly and Xena away from me, we co-exist peacefully enough.

I am not afraid of them, understand. I don`t jump up onto a chair when the rats are in the same room. I just grew up believing that humans are supposed to win the rat race, and the only way to do it is to kill the rats.

Fancy rats, apparently, do not "roam" off the premises the way hamsters or pet mice do; they love us too much. They know where the gravy train is. As a result, they spend way too much time out of the cage for my taste. So my fear is this: Some male rats out there live on the wild side, making females "ooh" and "aah" over their wavy pompadours, hinting at the unbelievable high of drinking beverages containing 10 percent arsenic ("Just enough to get a buzz, sweetheart"). They live on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, if you know what I mean. Those boys don`t have honorable intentions, and I know they won`t hang around once Molly and Xena show up with baby rats.

That is my fear. Please put them back in the cage, kids! Something tells me that I likely will experience the same fear with my 11-year-old daughter in a few years.

Carol Weldin wants to change my attitude. About a year ago, she rang me up to point out that February is also National Pet Dental Health Month. So for six years, I`ve been touting observance of National Childrens` Dental Health Month and ignoring the observance of similar attention for our pets. Has anyone nominated me for an award yet?

Actually, I did not know about the American Veterinary Medical Association`s six-year campaign for better dental health of pets until Carol called. Weldin, a California dental hygienist who lectures frequently on veterinary dentistry, correctly took me to task, since periodontal disease is a serious illness for pets too.

So, Carol, there you go; I`ve alerted RDH readers about National Pet Dental Health Month. Feel free to call the AVMA to suggest: "There`s this boy from Oklahoma, Mark Hartley, who deserves an award. Do we have any spare medals lying around?"

Not loving animals enough to qualify? Well, in this issue of RDH magazine, we`ve got a four-page pictorial of hygienists with their pets - a tribute to the kinship between hygienists and animals. No cats showed up for the photo shoot, but that`s not my fault. There are dogs, horses, and even a parrot.

So how about it, Fido? Ready to call me a "friend of animals?" Don`t give me that look! You don`t like the rats, either.

Editor Mark Hartley can be contacted at markh@pennwell.com

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