Today’s assignment for Blogging 101 is particularly appropriate for the regular followers of this blog on how I’m learning to improve my own writing. The assignment is to determine the audience of the blog (fellow writers-in-training) and to post something that would be appropriate for that audience. As it happens, my first stream-of-consciousness blog didn’t work out as I had intended. I promised to post another stream-of-consciousness on pets on the island of St. Martin, and the differences between the way pets are treated here versus the way they are treated in the US.
The way I will proceed is to set a timer for 15 minutes–well, 20 minutes because I need time to sip my coffee and blow my allergy-plagued nose during the interval. Being both a slow typist and a slow thinker, that should keep this post reasonably short. Since stream-of-consciousness (SOC) writing is basically from mind to keyboard, I don’t expect this to be organized. I think of SOC as a “think cloud” in semi-essay format. So today the SOC; tomorrow the edited version that is, hopefully, better organized. As before, the only thing that I will undoubtedly take time to change is spelling errors, mostly because I try so hard to minimize them, but also because I hate that red wavy line that magically appears under a misspelled word. Blue grammatical error lines don’t bother me, but the red spelling lines–well, it’s like seeing a line of blood where I didn’t realize I had scratched myself.
One last thing before I start: my computer is giving me trouble with keystrokes, especially on the letter “g”, but on some others as well. After finishing this post, I am going shopping for a new and faster laptop with functioning keys so I don’t have to strike it five or six times just to get a letter to show up…
Ready? Timer set!
In the US, as in many parts of Western Europe, pets–especially cats and dogs–are treated like family members. They eat with us, sleep with us, play with us (OK–that’s mostly dogs and kittens), and sometimes are allowed to share our food as a special treat. Here on the island, that is not the case. More often than not, instead of the special canned or boxed or bagged food Americans feed their pets per pet food advertisement and veterinarian advice, pets here are either fed table scraps (especially true for dogs) or are expected to hunt and feast on the abundant population of lizards and occasional bird (cats, mostly). Sometimes, the local cats are treated to table scraps, especially if there is no dog in the household, but generally, they are expected to fend for themselves.
Americans tend to visit the vet with their pet for every little ailment. Here on the island, dogs are treated for serious injury, but cats–well, not so much. Although islanders claim to love their cats, they also see cats as self-healing–much more so than dogs would be. A recent incident with a five-year-old cat helped me to see the differences between treatment of cats and dogs by islanders. My cat, Shadow, had developed pancreatitis, which developed into diabetes, and finally into pancreatic failure. We spent quite a bit of money trying to save Shadow, and the vet was surprised every time we asked him to order whatever insulin she would need to keep her living a few more years. The only pet insulin they had on hand was for dogs, because apparently no islanders would treat a cat at such expense. Part of that may be due to the abundance of cats on the island, despite campaigns to spay or neuter them. But cats just seem to be thought of as independent and almost disposable pets here.
Dogs, on the other hand, are treated with a little more respect. Even here, however, dogs who develop serious diseases are generally allowed to die naturally, or are put to sleep under veterinarians’ needles. A dog suffering from a broken bone or serious gash will be treated with careful attention. A cat with a serious injury would more than likely have its leg set, or its gash sutured, given a bit of antibiotic, and left to do as it pleases one it gets home.
Although rabies has been thoroughly eliminated from the island, all dogs get rabies shots. Cats–not so much. A cat owner has to request the shots rather than have the vet suggest it. Without rabies on the island, no one worries that cats will contract it–we have no rats or mice here, believe it or not, except for a kangaroo rat that is about the size and shape of a gerbil. To the best of Animal Control’s knowledge, none of these are prone to rabies, and, as I’ve already said, there is none on the island. All we have is disease-spreading mosquitoes, so an awful lot of Off! and similar products are sold here. Spread of disease by fleas is virtually unheard of, despite the frequency of getting bitten by the overpopulation of these little critters. And ticks are seasonal–but watch out when they are in season, as even the best treatment for cats and dogs doesn’t keep them out of the home.
Here, cats and many dogs are allowed to roam free whenever and wherever they like. That means that there is a huge possibility that, if walking across a beach or field, one will step in something rather smelly.
Dang! Time’s up. Given the number of g’s in this post, I figure I used at least a few minutes going back and fixing them. The c’s and v’s also gave me some problems, but not enough to get excited about. I figure there was about 15 minutes of straight writing to this post if I omit the time spent with problem letters.
Even with the long introduction, everything on this page is barely 1000 words so far. I estimate that during the 20 minutes allotted, I’ve written only about 400 words, give or take 10 or so. This is the stream of consciousness–some semblance of order, but with obvious need for cutting and pasting. This is short enough that I should have it fixed and updated by tomorrow or the next day, depending on how my time constraints run. So, although this is in part for the Blogging 101 class, it is also the promised new SOC that will be cleaned up and presented in the next regular (non-class) “how I am learning to write” post.
Let’s see how I do cleaning this one up. It’s a reasonably “factual” topic, with not a whole lot to it. It will need a bit of fleshing out in places, and other parts will need reorganization or outright deletion.
Until next time, then!