Pig bladders, spiders and ponies — oh my!

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Last time, I wrote about pig bladders, and how they can help bolster the courage of your convictions to innovatively solve any long-term care challenge. So I think you're definitely ready for a frank talk about spiders.

You have at least one in your building, I guarantee it, and he's possibly climbing up your trouser leg right now. Even with eight churning little legs and 48, yes 48, knees, you probably won't even notice he's ascended your entire body until one of his ghastly metatarsi extends and a tiny spider claw brushes your neck. By then it's too late, you'll almost certainly be bitten, and you might as well lie down in the break room and wait for the poison to take effect.

Here's a little-known fact that probably should have remained so. According to the National Geographic, female spiders sometimes eat and kill their mates, even while they are mating. That's just one of many eerie similarities between spiders and humans, as proven in the famous nature documentary Basic Instinct.

Individually, you may think they're generally harmless. But you won't be quite so cavalier after I tell you that each year the world's spiders consume the biomass equivalent of the entire human species — a fact that's conveniently omitted from “Charlotte's Web.” The point being that these ravenous monsters should probably not be part of your pet therapy program, or ever marketed as such.

On the topic of insects or animals living in nursing homes, or homes in general, it's hard to know where to draw the line. Which should be welcomed and which should be shunned? For instance, we've all seen dogs virtually as big as ponies that are allowed to live inside as treasured and adorable pets. But an actual pony, no matter how small, is almost always cruelly excluded from the indoor domestic living experience. So while the pony-sized dog curls up on your lap or sleeps in front of the fireplace, the dog-sized pony shivers alone in the barn.

Maybe I need to pose this question to the Eden Alternative people, because it seems so arbitrary and unfair. We have llamas in long-term care settings. We've even had George Clooney. So why not ponies? They'd wander the hallways delivering meds from weather-beaten saddlebags, or be part of an early warning system as regulators approach. A small resident in a Paul Revere outfit could ride through the building shrieking, “The survey is coming! The survey is coming!”

Sadly, my long-fought case for ponies as indoor facility pets isn't going to be helped by the McKnight's story of the renegade deer that crashed through a nursing home window in New England and terrorized a facility this week. Since a deer is basically just a more agile pony with fewer social skills, this frightening incident is definitely a setback for the cause. But let's look on the bright side — at least it wasn't a squirrel.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.