A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, September 25, 2009

“Arf,” Says Sandy the Couch

A very unusual custody battle was decided recently in the state of New Jersey. The combatants, Eric Dare and Doreen Houseman, were never husband and wife because they didn’t even make it down the aisle. It was a couple who were engaged, lived together, and broke up. They didn’t have children, but they did share their lives with a pug dog, Dexter, which was the source of the custody battle.

Superior Court Judge John Tomasello ordered the couple to share custody of Dexter in five week intervals. This is all well and good, until you hear the judge's reasoning for this resolution. In an earlier ruling, Tomasello stated that the dog is not a child, but should be considered property to be divided when a relationship breaks up. He explained that, “Dogs are chairs. They’re furniture.”

Surely I thought some pet owners would howl (no pun intended) at this logic. So far, I haven’t heard any complaints. Interesting! Hire a convicted dog killer for your professional football team, and the mobs are out with their pitch forks and torches. Then, when someone suggests the idea that the family Great Dane could make a great rug in front of the fireplace, or the Belgian shepherd could double as a TV tray, or that a Chihuahua is perfect as a foot rest, or that Little Orphans Annie’s mutt could be converted into an Ethan Allen sectional, nary a paw is raised in protest.

Legal observers have speculated that this decision will set a precedent for future custody battles.

So now our pets are, in the eyes of New Jersey jurisprudence, nothing more than objects. Forget that they are living, breathing animals with the ability to feel pain, express affection for their human companions, and exhibit traits which we would call a personality.

This case got me thinking about the two cats in my life, Steven and Meredith. They are like children to Anne Marie and I. Now we can consider them as furniture, which opens a whole set of opportunities for their lives. They will no longer have to spend their days sleeping, eating, sleeping some more, using their box, sleeping some more, running around the house like maniacs, sleeping some more, and eating, all the while feeling depressed that — unlike mommy and daddy — they are unable to hold down steady employment.

Good news, kitties! You will now have actual duties to perform in the house. We just have to determine your suitability for our furniture needs.

Meredith, our gray tiger-striped female, could be useful as a chair cushion, if only she would sit still. She’s no fool; she realizes that she would be crushed under the weight of any human who sat on her. She’s very skittish, always has been, and not at all a touchy-feely feline. I’m sure this was a no-brainer from her point of view.

When Meredith sees a human asshole hovering overhead attempting a landing where she’s comfortable, she knows it's time to run like hell. Cats are lucky this way. They don’t have to deal with human assholes on a regular basis. Humans, on the other hand, have to deal with assholes everyday and do not always have the option to run away. Most times we just have to sit there and take it.

Steven, on the other hand, is ahead of the curve. He has been practicing the art of pets as furniture for awhile now. His usual routine is to stretch out on top of the couch, where any human who sits there could — conceivably — use him as a head rest. Anne Marie sits on the couch while she knits, but to date she has not taken advantage of Steven’s generosity. She doesn’t think that using pets as furniture is a good idea. This hasn’t stopped Steven from hitting her on the side of her head with his tail as he sleeps. I’ve thought that this is usually in reaction to a dream he is having — perhaps a nocturnal fantasy of him frolicking with the deer in the field behind our house — as opposed to a critique of her knitting.

This is an outlandish idea, not as ridiculous as the notion that everything Rush Limbaugh has ever said is correct, but it comes very darn close. I hope Judge Tomasello has a nice vacation soon so that he can recover from the obvious trauma he suffered while deciding this case. He may need a rested mind when he returns and faces a protest of animal rights activists and chair manufacturers.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to curb your couch!)


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