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Blue Star


By Scott Sullivan


Snakes Alive

The Mississippi Delta had a cat on a hot tin roof, but Detroit has pythons. Our southeast neighbors — whose Lions and Tigers strike fear in no one — gathered to gape last week in front of a home with an 18-foot snake atop it.

“Oh my God!” cried Latonda Harvey, who live-streamed the scene on Facebook. “It’s moving and it’s huge!”

Not to worry. Juliet, Devin Jones-White’s pet reticulated python, is a non-venomous species known only rarely to swallow humans. He apparently didn’t lock her cage properly, Juliet slithered out, one of his dogs barked and the snake did what you or I would: made her way to safety. Maybe … When Jones-White was alerted by cell phone, he was scared that police would shoot her.

Why, you ask, have an 18-foot python as a pet? When shopping for snakes you have many options. Reticulated pythons, the largest, are not recommended for most pet owners. A carpet, green tree or ball python might work better.

King cobras can grow to 18 feet long too, but are not advised as they’re venomous. If you buy one anyway you might also get a mongoose.

You might also consider a boa constrictor or anaconda. Both, like pythons, swallow prey whole and it may amuse you to watch your neighbors’ yapper dog appear as a lump moving down your new pet’s digestive tract.

Not that I advocate this. My home’s full of rescue animals, snakes not among them. Nor are the most specious species, scientists. This, you should know by now, is a segue.

Results are in from a 2018 General Social Survey that not only quantifies the nation’s pet population — nearly 6 in 10 households have one or more — it shows how pet ownership correlates with human happiness.

When you break down the data, The Washington Post reports, “a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are twice as likely as cat owners to say they are very happy.”

The Post thinks that’s stunning? There are other factors, among them dog owners are more likely to be married and own homes than cat owners, both known to affect a person’s life satisfaction.

A 2016 study found dog owners tend to be more agreeable, extroverted and less neurotic than cat owners. A 2015 study linked having a cat with fewer human negative emotions, but not more positive ones. A 2013 one showed dog owners are more likely to go outdoors, socialize and be active while walking their pets, with obvious benefits for health and happiness.

My own study finds we waste too much time on studies. But wait, there’s more. What about rabbit, fish, lizard and snake owners? No one has surveyed enough of them — yet — to make a statistically-valid sample.

While I wait for my grant, I’m still trying to get my wife’s hair dye — which the puppy got into and chewed up — out of the floor and door to my writing refuge.

I told Pilot his actions did not make me happy. The cats purred, weaving around my ankles. The parrot our prior dog killed was not there to chime in “Feel me dog,” but the replacement bird advised what I’ve spent on pets is “Cheep cheep.”

Since I’m pinning my hopes on pythons, I studied my roof. It’s leaking worse on the porch since we spent $20K to replace it. Were an 18-foot snake to get up there at least she would not get thirsty. Squirrels in the eaves could make snacks till I put Pilot up there too.

Jones-White figured Juliet might have come down on her own had not humans gathered and scared her higher. All gawked as he climbed on the roof and, with the snake wrapped around his torso, foot-by-foot lugged her down the side, once almost falling off the roof.

In other news, the Lions drafted eighth after dropping eight of their last 10 games, the Tigers kept losing and I’m still trying to get out the stains my puppy, who brings so much joy, is rolling in.

Never say dye, I say.