Beware the enablers of high-dollar critter kitsch

Exhaling slowly, I inform my friend, Tucker, that my budget simply won't allow me to plunk down four Benjamins to buy this newfound family of fake pink flamingoes.

The level of gut-wrenching regret that accompanies this highly rational decision has me wondering about my freakish attraction to weird animal art. Perhaps it's time for an intervention.

Like most addictions, mine began innocently enough. A horse crazy little girl, I adored a small metal doorstop that stood proudly near our front entry. In my mind's eye, Black Beauty and I were forever racing across the fairways at the local golf course.

Flash forward to a riverside cottage overflowing with frog candle holders, bunny flower pots, monkey-faced mugs, piggy candles, parrot teapots, elephant cookie jars and (drum roll please) a big yellow chicken lamp prominently displayed in the living room just south of a huge stained-glass window that depicts a glorious pink flamingo.

I have enough critter kitsch to fill Noah's ark several times over. Still I keep adding to my collections. And the level of affection I feel for these treasures just doesn't seem normal. Even to me.

So I wondered aloud if I'm alone in my lunacy. And was immediately assured I am in good company.

Off the top of her head, a bird nerd pal rattled off a list of avian-themed items that would put the Audubon Society to shame, including parrot salt and pepper shakers, mugs, door knockers, salad tongs, bottle openers and a 3-foot tall papier-mâché parrot "complete with removable sombrero."

"That's just what I can see from where I'm sitting," Kat yawned. "Do you want me to de-a$$ the couch and look further?"

A short twirl around her Arizona abode, and Kat's list grew to include myriad canine figurines, some fishy stemware, numerous Wizard of Oz Cowardly Lions, and one amorous bovine.

This is no ordinary stuffed cow, mind you. Kat's cow sports a strand of pearls that sways whilst Bossy sings "Besame Mucho" — in Spanish.

"Beeesssaaaammmeeeeee, besame MOOOOOOOOcho!!!," she said.

Moooooving on to Portland, Dove fessed up a collection of no less than 15 weimaraner paintings. Then blew us all away by popping up her prize sculpture.

"If we are going with 'weird' this is probably my weirdest," Dove said.

I peered at the object, and wondered why my friend was putting up a photo of dog poo. Or perhaps it was a bear fetish?

It was, in fact, a bronze dog nose.

"Yes, it is just the nose," she clarified.

I chortled mightily at Dove's dog snout. Whereupon she clarified it was a "BRONZE dog nose." Because, clearly, that makes all the difference.

Dove then posted a skeletal model of some frightening fishies. An ichthyologist friend had made them for a museum in Hawaii, she said.

"I think they are really cool," Dove said. "But some may consider them weird fish bones."

I might be one of them. But who am I to judge? People with giant glass bees on their walls shouldn't throw stones.

Speaking of weird transparent animal art, a Florida pal requested a Medford friend provide us an image of her life-sized glass rattlesnake.

An Eastside pal, a self-described "inveterate Dumpster diver," shared his favorite find. The elegant elephant shoehorn was pulled from his neighbor's trash bin back in '77, Frolly said.

"I have used it regularly since, from teaching religion to little hellions, to instructing in college classrooms. It has brought me luck, in the sense that I am still (somewhat) functioning, I guess," he said.

A crow-loving friend from Ashland put up a picture of an owl ice bucket she picked up in an antique shop in Walla Walla.

"I thought it was the coolest thing, but as I was showing it off to my travel companions, I noticed one woman had this huge expression of disdain on her face," she said.

Speaking of strange purchases, I'm still jonesing for my flamingo family. And my enabler is not making things easy.

"Life is short," Tucker messages. "Just sayin'."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or

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