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Pet Alternatives

March 3, 2017

Mrs. Chatterbox and I are empty nesters. I’ve worked from home for years, although I consider myself retired, and after twenty years with our police department Mrs. C. will be retiring in October. We’ve discussed getting a pet but so far haven’t made the trip to the Humane Society.


A pet would add a fresh perspective to our lives but we plan to travel more and don’t relish the idea of kenneling a dog. Cats are nice, but unfortunately Mrs. C. is allergic; her eyes water and turn red like a heroin addict’s if she sets foot in a house with a cat. Too bad; we both like cats.


I’ve discovered a few ways to combat loneliness for those of us without pets, especially if you can't afford to spend thousands on a robotic dog or cat. First, if lonely just send five dollars to the political party of your choice. Mrs. C. made the mistake of sending five dollars to the Democratic Party five years ago and she receives mailings and requests for money nearly every week. I’ve no doubt the Republican Party does the same.


Another way to eliminate the loneliness that inevitably arises when confronted with an empty mailbox is to go online and request a brochure from Viking River Cruises. We did this once, discovered how overpriced these cruises were and never contacted them again. Today is only Thursday (as I write this) and so far this week I’ve pulled three Viking mailings from our mailbox. Choose either of these options and your mailbox will never be empty again.


I’ve saved the best loneliness cure for last. CJ is a master gift-giver, often presenting us with items we’d never consider buying but soon can’t live without. Among his Christmas gifts to us was a motion sensor trash can. If he’d asked if this was something we wanted I would have said no. But he didn’t ask. After buying one for himself he instantly knew we’d appreciate one as well.


In truth, I have a problem accepting gifts. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the thought behind selecting a perfect gift, but my brain seems to short-circuit when receiving presents. Usually there are people around at the time, such as the giver of the gift, staring at you, studying your expression to see if you like what they’ve selected for you. Unfortunately, it takes time for me to react properly…sometimes days…sometimes weeks…sometimes even years. This can be disconcerting to anyone giving me a gift but it isn’t anything I have control over. I’m not a good actor, and if I fake instant enthusiasm I fool no one.


I wasn’t enthusiastic when I unwrapped the box. A garbage pail? We already had a garbage pail, a cheap plastic one under the sink. I tried to look enthusiastic as CJ unboxed the trash can and inserted batteries into the lid. When finished, he waved his hand over it, activating the motion sensor, and the lid automatically opened. I wasn’t thrilled.



Flash forward nine weeks and that delayed reaction I mentioned is now in full swing. I LOVE OUR MOTION ACTIVATED GARBAGE CAN! It’s become the pet we need to help us through our empty-nest years. For reasons known only to her, Mrs. C. has named it Gary. It’s nice to be able to open a garbage can without touching it, especially when your hands are wet or filled with garbage. But I must confess; often while walking past Gary I wave my hand over him just for fun, and he salutes me with the respect I don’t receive from anyone else. In addition to being an excellent listener, Gary is a pet that doesn’t need to be fed, walked, neutered/spayed, or dewormed.




My days alone will come to an end in October when Mrs. C. leaves the work force. I don’t expect her to salute me the way Gary does. She would if asked, but I suspect there wouldn’t be much enthusiasm in it.


Do you have any fake pets?



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Well the trash can kind of does need fed. Yesterday I got a large envelope with "Important Documents Inside!" written on it. The "important document" was a Fingerhut catalog. That's neither important nor a document.
By: PT Dilloway on March 3, 2017
I like the small river cruises and we have taken a few Viking ones. Maybe we should try other river cruise companies and compare?
By: Tabor on March 3, 2017
Maybe we need one now. Never thought I'd need an iPad until I got one. Now we have one for every room in the house. Just request beach condo information and you'll also be flooded with weekly brochures.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on March 3, 2017
Wouldn't mind a robotic dog. Then I wouldn't have to worry about it out living me. I guess my current fake pet is Alexa who lives in Echo Dot. She really is smart and only speaks when spoken to.
By: Arkansas Patti on March 3, 2017
We just have real cats, so i don't need a fake pet to be concerned about as well.
By: messymimi on March 3, 2017
I NEED an automatic trash can. Give CJ my address, please!!! I want a REAL dog. And I don't want junk mail from Viking River Cruises.
By: Mitchell is Moving on March 3, 2017
I get those Viking Cruise brochures and I never requested one in the first place! We have nine dogs (along with cows and bees), so no need for any substitute pets around here. I do like Gary, though...
By: Kelly on March 3, 2017
So does it close automatically too? The problem with pets is what to do with them when you travel. Although I bet Gary gets lonely.
By: LL Cool Joe on March 3, 2017
Gary seems pretty cool. Fake pets? Not that I am aware of but my kiddos might tell you a different story. We have our real pet and she keeps us plenty busy. Take care Stephen.
By: Mr. Shife on March 3, 2017
Gary is awesome! Now I want one. We have lizards who wander into my house. I used to name them, but they'd stay a few months then leave. Broken-hearted, I'll never name anything again! lol
By: Lexa Cain on March 3, 2017
I don't need a robotic dog or cat, but I'm pretty sure I'd love a robotic house cleaner. I think the closest thing in existence right now is the iRobot vacuum cleaner. That would be my pet. My husband's pet could be the iMow.
By: Pixel Peeper on March 3, 2017
With three cats the last thing I need is another pet, fake or not!! I'm glad for CJ's sake that you are now so enthused over Gary :)
By: jenny_o on March 3, 2017
I used to have a very realistic bunny puppet... I had a blast with it entertaining my kids, friends children and passengers in other cars when driving somewhere. Mind you I wasn't driving-just entertaining myself and others! Now that Gary Garbage Can sounds very cool! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on March 3, 2017
Nope. All out pets are live ones. Our circumstances are different because Jilda's brother lives next door and he has a key to our house. When we're out of town, he takes care of our critters. R
By: Rick Watson on March 3, 2017
Gary sounds like a hoot!!
By: fishducky on March 3, 2017
Well...I'm pretty sure you won't have to worry about Gary shaking and foaming at the mouth and hiding under the Little Barbershop of Horrors for five hours. Our Puppy Jack was sick today.
By: Val on March 3, 2017
I already have a ton of pets but I would LOVE to have that garbage can!
By: Marcia kester Doyle on March 3, 2017
I like that! I'm going to get one and name it Phil, Phil Debasket. (old joke) If you want mail, start entering the Publisher Clearing House contests.
By: cranky on March 3, 2017
I have a shredder I am fond of, though I usually visit it only once a month. I've found that also helps reduce the litter I have to carry out.
By: Tom Cochrun on March 4, 2017
Gary the trashcan. Hmmm. I like the idea, though. We don't have pets, either -- for the same reason. Now, then, what would I name my trashcan?
By: The Broad on March 4, 2017
Motion activated garbage can: It's going on my birthday list right away.
By: Tom Sightings on March 4, 2017
I just saw one of these recently, and hadn't thought of it as a pet, but yes, that fits! And I can say nothing about names... Most of the animate AND inanimate objects at our house have a name. Husband knows I am asking for the timer, if I request Fred, for instance. I guess for fake pets... My phone. At least I don't need to clean a litter box for it! Cat
By: Cat on March 4, 2017
I'm so glad I don't suffer from animal-related allergies. Our house would be so empty without the (real) animals that call it home. I remember pet rocks being a craze years ago. Did that ever hit your neck of the woods?
By: Botanist on March 5, 2017
This was very funny. Gary's attractive too. I have a slew of stuffed animals. They never argue, are extremely huggable, and behave themselves when I leave town. The meet my (almost) every need.
By: Robyn Engel on March 5, 2017
My husband brought home a rescue pet - he said for a few days - well two years later Buddy is still here. We ar retired and it can be a problem sometimes - but we love Buddy so "oh well" - life goes on.
By: Mary Ellen on March 7, 2017
Gary - hahahaha! I love it!
By: The Bug on March 7, 2017
So Gary your virtual pet fits the bill... for now. Get the travel bug out of your system. A furry friend can come into your lives down the road. AH no fake pets at this time. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on March 7, 2017

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