Poor Pebbles! Now I Need Some Emotional Support


I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day — full of love and hope and commitment and support, like the unflagging support one gets from a hamster.

Yes, I know I wrote about peacocks last week, but our “Emotional Support Animal of the Week” award goes to… the lowly hamster. For those who refuse to wear a peacock, don’t have the luxury of owning a cuddly elephant, and for whom a dog is just too blasé, the hamster has rolled in to fill the gap.

Yet, for one airplane-bound hamster in particular, things did not go well. In addition to being banned from the plane, “Pebbles” was flushed down the toilet, supposedly at the suggestion of airline personnel. (Just search the internet for “emotional support hamster” if you don’t believe me!)

To me, this story is simply not believable. In the first place, a person who needs any emotional support at all would never have been able to do such a thing. I am debatably stable, and there is no way I could. In the second place, there are a lot of things the airlines do not want you flushing down their tubes, and hamsters are the least of them.

Yet everyone wants to accommodate the needs of the truly fragile. Delta Airlines, in a frantic move to be pro-active before “emotional support rattlesnakes” become an issue, recently expanded their no-fly list to include “anything with tusks.”

Sigh. Have we really entered an age where we need to be told not to enter a busy airport accompanied by a charging warthog?

Delta also wants to see a letter from the doctor who prescribed the emotional support animal. No more scrawling “She needs help” on a cardboard luggage tag and signing it, “The Rooster.”

You know, people constantly complain about over-regulation but, to my mind, regulations have proliferated only as common sense has declined.

Preschools didn’t used to have “No Guns Allowed” signs on the door, people weren’t using lit matches to check fuel levels and toilet bowl cleaners didn’t need to “recommend” that children not drink from toilets. But, hey, that was back when warning labels were reserved for serious heavy machinery, and we were all eating peanuts with reckless abandon. Peanuts! What were we thinking?

I went online to bolster my case and found a host of real, honest-to-goodness, currently-in-use warning labels. Here are my favorites:

• Do not hold the wrong end of the chainsaw.

• This vanishing marker should not be used to sign legal documents.

• Do not iron shirt while wearing shirt.

• Hair dryers for hair on head only.

• This product moves when used; exercise caution when riding.

• Do not put any person in this washer.

And this truly worthless warning:

• If you cannot read all cautions and warnings, do not use this product.

Because these signs and labels were probably mandated after someone won a lawsuit, it’s only a matter of time before every toilet features the warning, “Do not flush paper towels, feminine hygiene products or hamsters.”