Miss Chi hUa hUa and the Rehab Centre for Animals Addicted to Humans
One day, wandering along life’s path, I got lost
in a dark jungle, unable to find the right way…
by Nonno Panda
It was a sunny day, one of those days when you feel like winter is finally coming to an end, daylight was getting longer and the temperature warmer; it was obvious. that everybody was feeling happier and jolly because the animals had started their courtship. Blackbirds, notoriously the first to build their nests, had begun to quarrel over their territory, preventing others from getting close to their offspring by creating borders with their song. Other birds were doing the same. I have always enjoyed the rebirth of nature and all the buzz, literally, that goes with it, another cycle of nature taking place, and after spring comes summer, my favourite season of all.
Time to venture out of the dark wood where I get lost loads of time….I thought and I knew the perfect quiet spot where I could enjoy watching all that was going on: a small hill, where I could lie on the grass and enjoy the panoramic view over the pond.
Some ducklings were swimming in the little lake, it was such a joy to see them chasing each other on the water and starting to venture away from their ever vigilant mother.
A warm feeling came over me and I felt like shutting my eyes and letting my imagination run wild, thinking what the summer would be like, when I started hearing a strange sound coming towards me… It was like the sound of little bells chiming somewhere, but when I felt my paw getting licked, I realised what those ringing bells were. It was right there in front of me, full of glitter and dressed up in a pinky, sparkling way.
“Hello Chi, how are you?”, I said recognising her.
“What do you think? How would you feel if you had to dress up like this all the time?” From her answer I could sense she was not a happy bunny, but she was always a bit of a drama queen “What’s wrong with it?”, I said, pretending not to notice her glam/glitter outfit.
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it! I’m tired of being Miss Chi hUa hUa and not being treated like a normal dog”, she said, circling me.
“How come? I thought you always enjoyed fashion and all the attention you get from it” I said thinking it was the usual moan from those animals who would do anything to get attention and then, once they’ve got it, complain about the stress of being constantly in the limelight as they can’t have a normal life.
“I know you’re getting old, Nonno, but do you really believe that constantly playing the role of man’s best friend is that much fun? Come on, use your animal instinct!”
Well! I was a bit taken aback by the rudeness of what she said and because I grew up believing older people deserved respect; besides, despite my appearance, I did not think I looked that bad. But she has always been full of herself, so I dared to say,
“I’ve seen many of you walking around so proud of yourselves, showing off the latest piece of wardrobe the humans have bought you, that, most of the time, I wondered if it was a sign of the times, or if I just had to start thinking the pet classification had become a sort of cross breed trans species, because, from birds to mammals, they all behave alike.
“Do you really think we enjoy all of that? Do you really think that playing the role of a human companion is fun?”, she replied in her usual grumpy way. I am not so sure where she wanted to go with all her complaints but I carried on listening to her sermonising. “Humans’ lives are so messy, and we have to pick up their pieces all the time adapting constantly to their needs . Do you think it’s a pleasure for me to be dressed up like a chandelier with bells, being washed and perfumed daily, going to the beauty parlour once a week , being carried around in a small bag and being greeted by strangers who treat me like a sort of plastic doll, while they carry on texting even when they’re in front of each other? I don’t think so! I wish I could communicate with them in the same way; is there anybody who could invent a touch phone for animals so they
can connect with their owner, texting their feelings to them? Maybe that’s the only way they’ll pay attention. I tell you, Nonno Panda, there might be some confused animals out there who think they are human and behave like one, but not me!”
“Come on, don’t exaggerate!”, I said trying to calm her down. “What are those poor pets who have been inbred for so long and have only ever had contact with humans supposed to do? Of course they think they’re human! And I feel sorry for them because although they get treated like a surrogate one, they’re not. So, it is pretty normal, they feel frustrated!”
“Yes I know, but I’m not like them, she repeated as if I need to be convinced. “I feel really sorry for them, too. But I’m not kidding, Nonno, humans have lost their sense of proportion. I don’t want to sleep next to them all the time, and I don’t want to be taken out with them all the time. And now that summer is coming, I don’t want to fly in their aeroplanes for hours to go on holiday, and I certainly don’t want to be taken into their bathroom”.
“So what do you want?”, I asked concerned at this rebellious attitude that seemed to be taking over Miss Chi hUa hUa.
“First of all I don’t want to be called Miss Chi hUa hUa: it’s a name I can’t stand. I want to be able to venture outside on my own and meet other animals who haven’t lost their sense of what being an animal is like, sniff their scent, be able to recognise their size when they have marked their territory. I want to be able to say ‘Wow there’s a big mastiff bull around here, woof!’ I want to be able to bark freely at anything that bothers me and not only when somebody comes too close to my mistress, because she likes the idea I’m very protective towards her.”
“But you get the pay back of all the attention you get, don’t you? I said tring trying to interupt her random talk.
“Yes but that’s not the point. I also want to be able to roll around in the mud because it’s good for my coat, or jump into a pond full of mucky water, run around a park chasing squirrels and other animals. Go back to a normal cycle of nature, being able to mate with other dogs and not only those of my own breed. It’s a healthy game for me to prove to myself that all my instincts are still there, because I’m well aware that my DNA has been modified to suit human tastes but I want to get back to the basics of nature. I want to be a proper bitch! I want people to recognise that despite my size I can be vicious too; why should only pit bull terriers be the ones famous for being scary and violent?”
Well I did not think that being vicious was a matter of size, I thought to myself, but she was like a breached dam and carried on barking mad without even noticing my – by now bored – facial expression.
“Humans are projecting their basic needs onto us, so we’ve just become another accessory to fill their empty lives, so we have to get dressed up according thei latest fashion. And I can’t stand it, because I want to be able to show off my coat, I’m proud of it, I have all the natural ingredients that protect me from the cold in the winter and hot weather in the summer, that’s why we shed our coat twice a year to get a new, shining one; if only I wasn’t forced to use their detergent and all the other staff they put on me. You see, we’ve become the surrogates for everything they’re missing in their lives.
Well, I’m tired of it all but I don’t know how to break free, because I tell you, I’m not so
sure what I can do or where I can go”, she said not quite realising she might not have any other option and that escape could cost her more that she bargained for.
Just like a human, she had become addicted to too many things, so that having a warm meal served up to you may be better than going out hunting for rabbits or chasing a squirrel, like she said.
Honestly, I am not sure she would be able to do anything like that, she would probably die of
starvation in the space of a day or two. So I asked what was the point she was trying to make, as I was getting tired of all her ‘I want, I don’t want-s’.
“I want to start a rehab centre”, she said, without an ounce of emotion in her voice.
“A what?”, I asked, surprised.
“Nonno Panda, I think that us pets have also become addicted to the humans’ way of living so I need to start a rehab centre for all the pets who, unlike me, after so many years of working for the humans are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, because they feel like they’ve totally lost their natural instincts. You see, humans take us to pet therapists because they think we’ve developed some strange behaviour, but most of the time they end up talking to each other about their problems which are supposedly ours. So, I need to find a voice to represent our inner feelings”
She made me feel a bit sad, as I could tell from the sound of her voice that she really had had enough of it all. Being a free animal that can’t become a pet, I have always sympathised with those poor fellows who were programmed to suit human tastes, but I also think her addiction might not be cured that easily, even if she went on about starting some fundraising, and about going to talk with her friends in a similar position, because she wanted to fight this abuse humans have inflicted on us animals.
“It’s against our animal rights”, she carried on raising her voice. “They need to understand that before their needs we have ours. I don’t want to be Miss CHI hUa hUa who only barks, from now on I want to be Miss Chi DO DO who’s going to do things. We demand respect, it’s the only way we can still help them as pets”
“That could be a good idea”, I said trying to cheer her up, and deep in thought, she fixed her dress, sorted her tinkling bell necklace, and here we are – Miss Chi hUa hUa , oops, sorry, Miss Chi do do, the activist, the animal campaigner for pets’ rehab rights, walking off with that collar jingle that was her trademark.
Maybe there is a real need for something like that, but I was not sure if that was the real reason behind it all. Being involved for too long with humans can be tricky for a pet, and she had assimilated some of their dysfunctional behaviours, no need for a therapist to see that. The temporary dissatisfaction she was feeling, I think, was just like the symptoms human have when they want to change their lives but aren’t able to, since they have become too dependent on things, which, albeit not important in the grand scheme of life, they think they cannot live without, and so the vicious circle goes round and round.
It takes a great deal of courage to decide to change your life and break free from it all, but good luck to her and to all the animals who manage to regain control of their lives. Personally I hope that after spring we will have a joyful summer, as it is the perfect time of the year to make some changes. But we will see what Miss Chi do do (the artist formerly known as Miss Chi hUa hUa) will do with her rehab movement. Will keep you posted.