Ok, so in the course of my life I have owned, and have known people who have owned:
Birds (parrots, hawks, falcons, parakeets, cockatiels, cockatoos, finches)
And many others critters, both mundane and exotic.
Owning pets gives you several ways to engage with them on nerd levels.
1. Your choice of pet. Normal or exotic. Does your pet look like an animal or animal-like being in SF/F media? Are they a rare breed? Do they have special needs or requirements that require research and extra effort? Do you need to pursue a certification to own said pet?
2. Naming your pet. As a female Pagan, I had indeed owned a black cat named Diana. I have also owned a black cat named after the Lord of Darkness in Tanith Lee’s Lords of the Flat Earth. As a history major with an interest in my Irish/Scottish roots, we had a cat named Finn MacCumhal. As a Russian history major I have had cats named Potemkin and Nadezhda. Currently, I have a cat named Jimmy Superfly Snookums, because pro-wrestling.
3. Housing your pet. Did you guys know that there are shark shaped cat beds? There is a cardboard cat-scratcher shaped like a DJ turntable. Fishtanks have an endless potential for nerdy expression. The next fishtank plans involve Cthulhu statues and shipwrecks. You can find plans on the internet for all kinds of shapes for dog houses, gerbil cages, fishtanks, birdcages…
4. Teaching your pet tricks. This is kind of limited to a certain mentation of animals and above.* I’ve known people who have taught (or tried to teach) ferrets to do some of the things from the BeastMaster movies. Dogs can be trained to growl on command, or play dead when you shoot a toy blaster at them. Cats are… well, cats are cats and I know they can be trained, but apart from “stay off the table” that is not anything I’m invested in enough to spend that much time on. Just be snuggly and purr, and we’re good.
5. Dressing your pets. Some pets will wear costumes and clothes. I have a cat that will wear anything you put on her as long as you give her treats and tell her she’s pretty. The rest of them view clothes with suspicion, and flee at the first sight of a tiny cape.
So, yeah, there are a lot of ways to manifest your nerdiness through your pets. Tell me about your nerdy pets, and I’ll include a comprehensive list below. I’m just giving you the ones with nerdy names or that are a little on the exotic side.
Potemkin (after the Russian count for whom the battleship was named)
Lotus (she was black, like the Magic card)
Diana aka the_grrrsl (she had her own Livejournal)
Jimmy Superfly Snookums
There are a lot of cats because we used to rescue.
*There is a point at which the intelligence of an animal can interfere with training them. Some super smart dog breeds like Jack Russell Terriers, Corgis, are tough to train because they are smart enough to be stubborn jerks if you’re boring them.
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