Do you have a pet … as interesting as this one?

“Do you have a pet?” is one of those getting-to-know-each-other questions I often see in language textbooks. Similar questions like “What kind of movies do you like?” and “What’s your hobby?” can lead to interesting discussions if you make an effort. Or they can fizzle into silence.

If your answer to “Do you have a pet?” is as interesting as this one, though, it might even lead to a great research project.

“When Squirrels Were One of America’s Most Popular Pets” 

(from Atlas Obscura)

I just finished reading a book in which an unusual pet (a carrier pigeon) plays a key role. Well, they’re not just pets — they’re communication tools —  but for several of the characters in the story, a particular pigeon named Love is so much more. (The book is called A General Theory of Oblivion, by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Danny Hahn, and I really enjoyed it.)

A few research/discussion questions and writing prompts:

  • Do you know any other unusual pet trends from the past? What kinds of pets did, say, people of Prince Shōtoku’s time, or Murasaki Shikibu’s time have?
  • What about another culture you’re studying? Do people now have unusual pets? Did they in the past?
  • Do you think the future will bring other unusual pet trends?
  • Have you read any good books lately in which animals play a key role?