Anyone that knows me well, knows that I'm not really an "animal" person. Animals and I have never gotten along. From my very first interactions with animals - cats, dogs, hamsters things haven't gone well. When my family and the Schroeder family decided that a trek to the Black Hills and a quick drive through Bear Country USA were in order - the gang was all on board. Sure, feeding the goats and lambs and horned rams was fun while we all had full red and white striped boxes of popcorn. Horned sheep, goats, lambs and a plethora of other animals back in the day roamed free at Bear Country USA. I'm pretty sure they still do, because it's South Dakota. Back then, if a long horned ram would have gored me, my parents would have shrugged their shoulders and said, "Well, the stupid kid should have just given up her popcorn." They wouldn't have sued or had long horned sheep put down because of their violent natures.
As the animals got more and more greedy - and as the popcorn supply dwindled. The 3 Schroeder boys and my two darling older sisters decided to seek refuge from the hungry hungry animals and climbed to the top of a picnic table. I was not a husky child. I was tiny and blond and I wasn't the assertive lass you all know and love at the time of the Bear Country USA tragedy. It clearly shaped how I feel about animals, zoos and pets in general. A standard picnic table is surely large enough for 6 kids to hang out on. A table being used for refuge from horned sheep could probably in a pinch rescue a classroom of children. My sisters and "the boys" decided that in order to reserve their bubbles of personal space that there was not room for me on top of the picnic table. So I stood on the ground, now surrounded by animals that are slowly but surely realizing that I'm their last chance at a mid-morning popcorn feeding.
I was not so keen on the idea of being the sole provider of snack time. So, I opted to hold my popcorn high above my head while pleading my case to the refugee council. Before the council could decide - the Orwellian animals housed at the petting zoo area had other plans. One minute the sky was bright blue and I was enjoying a lovely snack with my family and in the next instant I was flat on my back breath knocked out of me - gasping for any air. Suddenly what was wide open sky above me was now replaced with filthy fur - the feeling the rough horns on either side of my throat didn't help with the calm breathing. My red and white striped popcorn box was being trampled around me. The animals taking advantage of my misfortune multiplied at a rapid pace. Finally I managed to get a grip and what escaped my lips was a blood curdling scream. Since that day - animals and I have a serious issue.
I don't like zoos. I have never 'snuggled' with a dog and thought - oh, adorable, I want one. I was the last one outside when our cat Mittens had her kittens - which meant I got stuck with the one that was herniated as "my" cat. He was all black, I named him Spook. He was a whiny cat. Isn't it awful that I don't remember how that cat died??? Yeah it is. I appreciate people that have animals, but I'm just not one of them. I know it, I own it and I don't pretend that it's something that it's not.