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The truth about cats & ferrets. (frames of mind).

I spent the summer far away from my wildlife-free San Francisco neighborhood in Toronto's trendy Annex in a charming coach house. It was ideal except for one thing. The fine old manses in the hood all had multiple points of entry for swaggering mice and raccoons. Worse yet, the fine old trees that surrounded the place housed rabid squirrels. All summer long I battled successive invasions by the marauding black squirrels that lived in the graceful apricot tree outside our window. Armed with barking cries and window screen-chewing teeth, they indulged their taste for fresh bread and ripe fruit inside our house.

We were finally rescued by Sofia, the cat who lives down the street. She took pity on our situation and commenced regular rodent-detection rounds, payable in full by tummy rubs and sofa rights. Having been a companion-animal bachelorette for some time, I was reminded by my boundless affection for Sofia of that sweet and sadly distant time when lesbian folk and our feline friends were bound by troth, seemingly forever. Why? Perhaps it was that early witch identification that led lesbians to adopt cats as familiars. Perhaps it was the well-known feline independence, which matched an early sense of lesbian rebellion.

In the '90s that loyalty--at least on the lesbian side--came to an end. The age of the dog was upon us. Everywhere I looked, my friends were acquiring drooling beasts that obeyed their commands and required constant care. (Perhaps the pups were a test run for the babies that would soon follow?) In a flash, feline memories were erased in favor of this new best friend. With all the fervor of a haute Parisian, some lesbians have elevated their canine pals to faux-human status. Reno, for instance, takes her beloved doggie, Lucy, with her everywhere. She came to Toronto for the world premiere of the brilliant new Nancy Savoca film, Reno: Rebel Without A Pause, and Lucy naturally accompanied her. Everywhere. To the hotel, the restaurant, the theater, onstage. We know about lesbian codependency already, right? Reno is a funny gal, but she doesn't joke about Lucy.

Lesbian attachment doesn't end with dogs and cats, though. Domestic animals are just the beginning. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has always been big in the lesbian community--nothing like a mistreated lab rat or bunny to get the lesbian blood boiling. And Save the Whales? As Margaret Cho once said, describing her fall into lesbian lust on a whale-watching cruise, "Lesbians lo-o-ove whales." Dolphins too. Before Pacific pattern tattoos took over, you couldn't count the number of lesbians with dolphins etched into their flesh.

In Toronto this year at the Dyke March, I realized that there are further frontiers to explore. As I strolled amid a baby brigade (my pal Allison's partner, Jay, a midwife, had delivered virtually all of them from the collective uteri of the lesbian nation), I was struck near-dumb by a proud banner held aloft by a serious-of-purpose group of marchers. It proclaimed the presence among us of the Ferret Aid Society.

Thus I learned of the sad fate of our ferret brethren, Or are they sistren? Innumerable seduced-and-abandoned ferrets, too often given as gifts, too often found wanting. They're out there somewhere in need of homes and rehabilitation, or at least some ferret version of summer camp. And the lesbians are there to help! Our Canadian sisters are in vanguard, offering solidarity and bucks (last year's parade generated the donation of "a whole skid of ferret litter," per one Web site) to the at-risk ferret community.

I couldn't help but be impressed. But did I join the ferrety ones? No way. Instead, I packed to head home, relieved to be escaping the hordes of neighborhood mice that I knew were just outside, ready to head into the central heating at the first drop of the thermometer.

Why are so many lesbians determined to save the world, one species at a time? I'm going to ponder that one, sitting smugly in my San Francisco garden and indulging my lesbian affection for my species of choice--the butterfly.
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Author:Rich, B. Ruby
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Oct 29, 2002
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