On anglerfish, scrub jays, and the menageries of childhood

The anglerfish was the iconic animal of my childhood. This eerie creature lives miles under the ocean’s surface and – as you probably know, if you were ever an animal-obsessed kid like me – dangles a fleshy, glow-in-the dark “bait” in front of its monstrous jaws. The dangling bait attracts prey and gives the animal […]

Talk to the Animals

For animal lovers, there may be no one more heroic than Dr. Dolittle, the title character of Hugh Lofting’s charming children’s books and Richard Fleischer’s schmaltzy movie (one of my childhood favorites). Dolittle’s patients are people, at first, until they get fed up with his growing number of house pets — rabbits, mice, pigeons, a […]

Abstruse Goose & Some Urgent Questions

I’ve never understood how we go about ascribing character traits to animals. Every cat I’ve known fits Abstruse Goose’s checklist, but aren’t we both just making stuff up?  No dog I ever had could remotely be described as “faithful” or “devoted;” they’re in it for the free lunch, period.