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My Life with Her Dog
By Meredith Scott Lynn

Before I tell what has been, for my therapist(s), a harrowing tale, I wish to clarify its title. Firstly, by "My Life" I refer to my love life, the last 14 years or so that just so happen to revolve around significant and various regular contributors to PETA whom I collectively refer to as "Her." "Dog" is a catch-all concept for any species of the animal kingdom that might be owned -- or in some cases possessed by -- any species of the lesbian kingdom or vice-versa.

While I personally never owned a copy of the ubiquitous "Hang in There Baby!" kitty poster, I feel compelled to emphasize my genuine appreciation for animals as well as for birds and the ladybug. Even I would be at a loss to dispute the necessity and purpose of unicorns, dragons and other magical beasts. I've read about the use of animal therapy on prison inmates and, apparently, a serial rapist can find much needed self-esteem in the sweet snuggle of a scruffy spaniel. It's irrefutably beautiful! I must have seen Academy Award-worthy Benji a hundred times and often gave inspired discourses on its value during recess and nap time. I'll bet Tony the Tiger is in fact Grrrrreat! and that Pooh is, as some suspect, the second coming of Christ. Come to think of it, who would Bam Bam be without the flight of the Pterodactyl as inspiration? Hey, I even lent my voice to the straight-to-video opus The Lion King Part 2. And recently I was horseback riding and told my willful (that's trainer euphemism for psychotic) pony that he was, "Such a good boy!" while I patted his saddle horn. I even did it in baby talk for emphasis.

Animals and I go way back. Throughout childhood, I loved and cared for multiple shitzsus, two cats, three parakeets, four hermit crabs, (another story entirely), countless goldfish and a ball can of fireflies. To quote Golde in Fiddler on The Roof, "If that's not love what is"?

What I have learned in the years since my fireflies tiny lights winked out is that pets are fine!… it's the owners who should be spayed and neutered! That registered, whatever affection I had for the household pet population has been repeatedly and violently side-swiped by, what in my admittedly unsolicited opinion, had been my partner's imbalanced pursuit to fulfill a desperate desire for real intimacy by projecting it onto a four-legger incapable of it, instead of creating it where it is possible… with me.

Many years back, the actor Harvey Fierstein personally told me that, quote, "I had better reincarnate, as a cat" so that a love-starved women would happily rub me all the time. I quickly set him straight by explaining that cat owners aren't love-starved at all, but rather love-stuffed and need a place to express their love where it might be received unconditionally and not met with the complications so often associated with relationships with humans.

That being said here's the rundown, in sound bite vignettes, of some of my experiences. Please note: The names of all women, lesbian or lesbian adjacent, and their pets, have been changed just enough that anyone who's ever met me or sat next to me on a subway, can still know exactly who I'm talking about.

  • Back in '92, pained poet Janice and her muse, a Tonkanese named Stanley, took turns hiding under the bed and behind the piano…but never just for fun. They shared an agoraphobic response to the world and my regular visits to the apartment (I lived there), pushed a few of their delicate buttons.

  • Karen and her "boyfriend" Chippie, a Terrier mix, ate tri-tips, from Smith & Wollensky's, at the dinner table. Together. I imagine they still do. Chippie likes a nice cabernet.

  • Sarah couldn't stand her husband but took care of him anyway and this was also her position regarding his cat Camelot. The husband moved out before Camelot did. Just my bad luck, I guess.

  • Margaret-Ann and I fell for each other pretty hard weeks before my journey to Nicaragua to help poor people build houses. And I mean poor. An entire family shared one tattoo. Anyway, during my stay there, Margaret, who remained in L.A., was busy doing her own good deed and rescued Tammy the Tabby from the three things that plague all felines: flea infestation, homelessness and crystal-meth amphetamines. Margaret and I stood a chance at becoming a loving, conscious couple but our last moment alone, well, without Tammy, was at baggage claim carousel 2 the night of my return.

  • (I am starting to feel nauseous.)

  • Allison's two "children", Annoying and More Annoying, shunned their litter box and preferred to pee in the bathtub. "Bad cramps, Meredith? Should I make you a bath?" "Uuuhh, actually, I am having a pretty good hair day, honey, and I should probably keep it dry, but…maybe next time like if I am menstruating in a hotel room or, ya know, in my tub!"

  • Lisa's cats had their own email address and quite possibly their own account and password. We had a hard time sending and receiving instant messages. Lisa and I simply had different servers, I guess.

But one experience stands out for me as wholly bizarre. I read somewhere that experience is the worst teacher because it gives us the test before presenting the lesson. How fucked up is that?!

Patience, a direct descendant of the Mayflower folk who never felt there was enough time to live up to her name, saw me at a friend's birthday party and then shortly thereafter again at a dinner party she herself was throwing. (I later came to understand that this woman could cook up anything… in the kitchen and out.) After an attraction was quietly considered, we simultaneously whipped up some witty banter and a lotta yada yada and presto! Instant "us!" A tantalizing dish that compelled me to dig right in, clear out a drawer, and pack up my fancy Fred Segal fennel flavored toothpaste for an indefinite sleep-over at her place.

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