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Picking a pet: Iguanas are unsafe, but pooches are a perfect choice

As a college student, I think there are certain things we all miss while we're away from home. Being away from my parents, siblings and old friends for months at a time isn't that bad. But I miss my dog.

I think owning pets is wonderful. A pet can be your best friend and keep you company - except the African swooping bird, which will fly straight into your head if you attempt to get near it or even have brief thoughts of fondness toward it.

I believe I know what types of animals make the best and worst pets, but I'll keep those feelings to myself. They might offend other pet owners.

All iguanas should be killed. Iguanas are bitter, angry little animals with sharp claws and a desire to maim those they care about most. In high school, a friend once asked me to baby-sit his iguana while he was away. Unfortunately, I thought he said "Wanda," his gorgeous 25-year-old sister. I didn't understand why she needed baby-sitting at that age, but I thought it was a good idea nonetheless. Then my friend told me she was sick and would need a shot of medicine in the upper thigh twice a day. He also said she was having trouble with bladder control. Finally, he told me that during the vast majority of the day, she enjoys finding something warm to rub up against.

At this point, I was weighing the pros and cons. She was an attractive 25-year-old woman who liked to cuddle. On the other hand, she had bladder problems. I boldly decided I would take the bad with the good.

The next day, I found out my friend had actually said "iguana," not "Wanda." But I had already agreed to undertake the task and soon found out the iguana was not all too happy to have a complete stranger stabbing her in the upper thigh with a needle. I survived the week of baby-sitting, but the iguana and I did not become close friends. I was just glad she was high on medication when I was looking after her because when she's healthy, she can knock a grown man's face off using only her tail.

However, I do not hate all pets. My family has owned a wonderful black lab for the past nine years named Chrissy (or Charlotte, something with a "ch" at the beginning). Chrissy is a wonderful dog because she's loyal and smart, and I can blame her whenever I throw up on the carpet. The point is that pets serve many purposes.

For example, throughout high school it was Chrissy's job to wake me up in the morning. Every morning, she came to my room, jumped on the bed and clawed at my trachea until I woke up. Of course, occasionally she failed at her assignment. Sometimes she just sat there until I woke up, an hour late for school.

When this happened, I yelled at Chrissy's supervisor, "Mom," as I called her. My mother always said, "She didn't wake you up? That's odd." Apparently she found nothing unusual in giving the full responsibility for waking me to an animal whose hobby is chasing an extremity of its own body.

The truth is, Chrissy's a smart dog, and I would not trade her for anything in the entire world - except perhaps some sort of juggling monkey. But Chrissy has had many noteworthy achievements in her lifetime that prove her a worthy pet. Here's a list of her accomplishments:

1) Scratching herself.

2) Opening the screen door with her forehead.

3) Eating an entire bag of flour when nobody was home.

4) Chewing up the blue Frisbee.

Despite all the fun that pets provide, they are a big responsibility - in fact a bigger responsibility than most household appliances. One of the things that makes taking care of animals so difficult is buying their food.

When I went to look for dog and cat food over winter break, I found it difficult to choose a specific type. A few of the types offered were casserole dinner, shrimp and fish feast, and fresh water trout in sauce. There's something wrong when my cat is eating fresh water trout while I'm munching on stale Pop-Tarts. Who do you think wears the pants in that relationship? (Oddly enough, my cat does insist on wearing my pants.)

There was also a type called Savory Entr


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