From the title, you could probably guess that, yes, I like animals. I don’t just like them; I love them. After all, I initially got accepted into the pre-veterinary program at Purdue. It turns out that I’m better at playing with (and collecting) animals than giving them vaccines. Luckily, when I moved into my off-campus apartment at the start of my sophomore year, I found roommates with the same affinity for animals as me. Before I go on, I want to note that all 24 animals mentioned in this story are well-cared for; they all get annual exams and vaccines, are spayed and neutered and have enough food and treats to feed an army.
With that said, let’s get into it.
Jess and Clarissa had already moved in when I made the last-minute decision to live off-campus. Jess brought along her dog Jengah, a morbidly obese Min Pin who viciously growled whenever someone said, “I’ma get your food,” even when there was no food. She would never hurt anyone, though. Clarissa recently adopted a Miniature Schnauzer named Bobby. Quite honestly, I don’t have much to say about him. Probably because I just don’t really like schnauzers. Then she got another Mini Schnauzer, Thumper. She got him for me but didn’t give him to me because of the whole not liking Schnauzers thing.
Right about this time, the apartment complex figured out we had pets and we finally had to pay the pet deposit fee. Also around that time, I adopted my cat, Paco, a very small Siamese/Maine Coone mix who would eventually grew twice the size of every other animal in our apartment (including the dogs). What can I say? I told you that we kept our pets well-fed. I wanted a cat for a while, and my friend worked at a vet clinic. It just so happened that someone left two kittens, a male and a female, in a box outside the clinic. I chose the male because he was missing the tip of his ear from frostbite.
We just couldn’t stop ourselves.
About halfway through our sophomore year, Clarissa moved out with the Schnauzers and Lauren moved in with her cat Jack, a somewhat mean and spiteful cat. If you’re keeping track, by this point, we lived with one dog and two cats. One pet per roommate. Seems reasonable enough, right? Unfortunately, Jess, Lauren and I were not reasonable people.
Jess decided Jengah needed a sister and adopted Marley, a normal-sized Min Pin, named after legendary reggae artist Bob Marley. I also really wanted a dog, and a friend of my mom’s had kept the runt of a litter of Chihuahua/Rat Terrier mixed puppies they bred earlier that year. I met them in a McDonald’s parking lot one night. They handed her to me, I put her in a bright pink dress, took her back to my apartment and she never left my side. The original owners didn’t like her because she wasn’t very bright, but I absolutely adored her. So, we finished our sophomore year out with three dogs and two cats.
I like to think we just have big hearts.
Over the summer, Jess and her boyfriend were walking Marley and Jengah one day when they spotted a gerbil in a cage just sitting by the dumpster. Naturally, she brought it home. She named him Johnny Tambourine. Upon taking him to the pet store to get him a friend, she learned Johnny Tambourine was, in fact, a female, so she adopted Penelope. It turns out the pet store was wrong. A few weeks later, we had five adorable little gerbil babies. In researching how to care for these sweet little gerbil babies, Jess learned that if you do not separate the male and female, they mate immediately after giving birth. So, surprise! A few weeks later, we had six more gerbil babies, totaling 13 gerbils in all, now in two separate tanks of males and females.
A few weeks later, I woke up to find a new tabby cat in my living room. Jess walked in and told me his name was Captain Jack Sparrow, after the pirate in the Disney movies Pirates of the Caribbean. Apparently, she had found him outside our apartment in the middle of the night so she let him in. He ended up liking us so much he never left.
We couldn’t stop at 17. We didn’t like odd numbers.
Long story short, a boy who wanted to impress Lauren ended up taking her to the humane society to get her a kitten. However, they were buy one, get one free, and soon Zoey and Charlie made themselves at home in our increasingly crowded apartment. Zoey was the sweetest little black cat you would ever meet. Charlie was gray, and we think he may have been special needs. He made a few poor attempts to kill escaped gerbils. As I mentioned earlier, Jack (not Captain Jack) was kind of a jerk and decided he didn’t want to share the litter boxes with our four other cats (I guess I can’t really blame him). He started to use a cat house Jess and I crafted out of cardboard as his own personal litter box. However, when you own that many animals and only one issue comes up, I’d say things were working pretty well. Last but not least came Hand Banana, my pet bearded dragon, named after a show on Cartoon Network that I cannot remember.
At the end of our junior year, Jess and I dropped out, and Lauren moved in with her boyfriend. I took Paco, Peanut and Hand Banana. Jess took Jengah, Marley, Captain Jack and the gerbils. Lauren took Jack, Zoey and Charlie. We made “play dates” over the years so the pets can still see their old friends. Although some of our pets have passed on, I will always remember these two years in this apartment as some of the most fun, exciting and hilarious times of my life. While it took a lot of work to care for all of these pets, it was worth all the time and money because they were there for me when I cried over failed exams and celebrated over perfect scores on essays. I would not trade those two crazy years for the world.