Critters and Romance: Happy Medium, Anyone?

Copyright Gary Young

(This post first appeared on Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf on February 26, 2014, as part of a blog tour. Stop by Melissa’s blog and share the love!)

In Must Love Otters, poor Hollie Porter—lover of most animals, friend to otters everywhere—is not a fan of her boyfriend’s dogs. Keith has Yorkies—Trixie, Pixie, and Moxie—“stupid little ass-licking, ankle-biting shit machines that bark like I’m the Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Thing is, the dogs don’t much care for Hollie, either. Sort of a lose-lose situation.

Our book’s title suggests that a love of critters is very important to our heroine. Once she finds her way out of the Yorkie predicament, she knows that the next time she tucks under the covers with someone, preferably he will share her love of wildlife, and at the very least, he won’t have any Yorkies.

I, since birth I’m sure, have been a cat person. Felis catus all the way, baby.


Hello, Naughty Nuit.

But just because I’m a cat person doesn’t mean my cat is a people person—and especially not a new-man-in-my-spot-on-the-bed person. Take for instance when Mr. Gordon and I started dating. At the time, my darling boy Kovu, a wickedly soft, brown-coated, blue-eyed pussycat, wasn’t too excited about the fact that his side of the bed had been hijacked. So, as any self-respecting cat would do, Kovu launched an attack. He hissed, scratched, and bit. A lot. Then he shat in Mr. Gordon’s shoes. More than once. So naughty. It took a few months, but eventually, a peace accord was drafted: you give me cookies, I will stop crapping in your sneakers.

And the best part? Mr. Gordon crossed over to the feline side: he is a devoted cat person these days. You should hear him talk to Nuit (pronounced new-wee, French for “night”), our latest baby. Black and white and chubby all over, this 14-month-old shit disturber gets more attention than anyone or anything else in the house. (And not a day goes by that I don’t miss my buddy Kovu. RIP, big man.)

Kovu Sommersby_DSC8764

Hey, Kovu … I miss you.

But if you’re an animal lover and you’re shopping around for your heart’s desire, how important is it that your new partner shares your love of beasties? Here’s a good way to test—if you live near a zoo, aquarium, or other wildlife sanctuary open to the public, consider making this venue a first-date destination. A number of important questions can be addressed simply by wandering the halls or paths of such a facility. Surprising as it may be, you can quickly discern a person’s position on politics, children, and world events simply by watching the chimpanzees throw poop at each other. Is he a bleeding-heart liberal who will donate his tax refund to saving orphaned orangutans? A hard-line proselytizer who believes rehabilitating animals and putting them on display is a waste of public funds? A sociopath who argues with zoo staff about their facts or lights up a cigarette in the children’s zoo? Sure, it takes all kinds, but we’re interested in YOUR kind. Right?

pencilLet’s use a scorecard to see if your potential animal-loving bed buddy is a stud or a dud:

1. Does he call the gorillas monkeys? YES: -1 / NO: +1

2. Does he make fun of the primates’ rather prominent bums? YES: -1 / NO: +1

3. Does he look bored and/or check his cell phone when the lions are mewling and stomping about? YES: -1 / NO: +1

4. Does he doze off in the middle of listening to the caretaker explain how a specific animal gets food in the wild vs. captivity? YES: -1 / NO: +1

5. Does he make shooting sounds and/or mimic holding a rifle when you get to the deer enclosure? YES: -1 / NO: +1

6. Does he care about the programs in place to help our endangered species? NO: -1 / YES: +1

7. Does he make jokes about eating the sea life dipped in butter and garlic? YES: -1 / NO: +1

8. Does he hog the front row in any enclosure and block the way of the littles who are trying to get their first glimpse? YES: -1 / NO: +1

9. Does he try to freak you out by shoving you closer to the tarantula exhibit? YES: -1 / NO: +1

10. Does he tap on the glass and say things like, “Hey, stupid thing, look over here!” while blinding the animal with his in-phone flash? YES: -1 / NO: +1

Okay—if you’re an animal lover, you should be looking at a score of no less than 9/10. You might be able to rehabilitate someone who scored 8/10, but much less than that, you’re probably dealing with an individual who doesn’t have much respect for the animal kingdom—either that, or he’s just trying to impress you with his comedic acumen. If you think that’s it, I’ll leave it up to you to decide on a second date. I would advise, though, anything less than 5/10, you’re looking at an uphill battle. And remember, a cheetah can’t change his spots.

Mangala the Demon GoatIf all else fails, take him to Hollie’s dad’s house and introduce him to Mangala. If he can make friends with the demon goat, marry the guy post haste. You get bonus points for serving cupcakes at the wedding and adding Yorkies to your wedding party.

Best of luck!

(P.S. Hey! If you DO end up on a first date at a zoo, aquarium, or animal sanctuary, take a picture and send it to us at We’d love to share your romance!)



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