Multiple Pet Acquisition Disorder (MPAD)
increasing number of mature men are finding themselves battling a spousal
problem that wrecks havoc on the home oasis and sanity.
While most husbands arrive home at the end of the day only to be asked, "Guess what I did today, honey?" these men are not as fortunate.
Questions they must endure run more along the lines of, "Oh, honey, guess what ate out of my hand today?" or, "You'll never guess what came up to me while I was raking outside!"
Every bit as paralyzing as an unexpected IRS audit, the effects are immediate -- eardrums pound like a savage beating on drums, palms get sweaty, and eyes dart nervously about in search of the "thing" he desperately hopes won't be found.
M.P.A.D -- a rapidly progressive condition -- usually strikes its victims during mid-life. Early symptoms are difficult to diagnose as they often masquerade as a harmless interest in soft, cuddly animals.
Before long, however, the problem escalates and pet-a-mania sets in -- dogs wear sweaters, cats dine from lead crystal, and parakeets romp on elaborate miniature jungle gym sets. When left unchecked, full-blown M.P.A.D. is likely to develop, and the house begins to resemble a barnyard with curtains.
M.P.A.D. can lay dormant for years only to emerge under the most innocent of circumstances. For instance, when children have the impertinence to grow up and leave home to selfishly begin lives of their own, the house can appear to have extra space. When rearranging the furniture doesn't help, many women panic. The home still looks, feels, and sounds vacant. In an attempt to avoid the dreaded "empty nest syndrome" an alternative is hastily sought.
It is at this point that the idea of adopting yet another family pet seems a reasonable solution. But, things quickly get out of hand and before long husbands find themselves with a problem too big to handle alone.
Support groups for M.P.A.D. are almost non-existent, and materials and books on the subject are not yet in vogue. One reason is because M.P.A.D. is still essentially a "closet problem." Recent surveys indicate most women find it difficult to admit they even have a problem, while the husband's basic difficulty lies in simply saying "no" to yet another family pet.
In an effort to help the real victims -- the husbands - identify early M.P.A.D warning signs, the following 14 symptoms have been identified:
1. An unconscious tendency to gravitate towards any pet store with the claim, "I only want to look."
2. A tendency to spend large amounts of time in the pet departments of Wal-Mart or K-Mart, "just looking."
3. An inability to resist stuffed animal displays and subsequent purchases, despite the fact there are no children at home.
4. Spending considerable amounts of time outside in the yard talking to birds, squirrels, turtles and other small animals.
5. Denies there is a rodent problem and hides all mousetraps after viewing "Stuart Little."
6. Has an unnatural urge to watch "101 Dalmatians" three or four times a week.
7. Consistently turns up missing at county and state fairs, only to be found at the petting zoo area.
8. Is on a first name basis with every pet owner, and pet, in the neighborhood.
9. Exhibits baby talk whenever animals are present.
10. Insists on a moment of silence while fishing, before casting a live-baited hook in the water.
11. Becomes incensed when you refer to rats, mice, and grackles as "pests."
12. Dog biscuits, birdseed, crickets and unsalted raw peanuts replace potato chips, M&M's, and Snickers bars in the family pantry.
13. Water dishes replace drinking glasses.
14. The term "three course meal" takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of "1st, 2nd, 3rd," they become courses "for the squirrel," "for the turtle," and "for the birds."
Desperate to regain a sense of normality in the home, and the chance to step across the living room without the crunch of birdseed or squeak toys underfoot, men have begun to seek productive ways to fight the M.P.A.D. malady. Prayer-chains, telephone crisis hotlines, H.A.S.A. (Husbands Against Shelled Animals), and other special task-force groups are desperately needed.
If you or someone you know has already fallen victim to M.P.A.D., we strongly suggest purchasing controlling stock in a feed store.
It's your only hope.
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