GREAT BARRINGTON — I live in a cozy, tastefully furnished apartment on Main Street in the lovely town of Great Barrington. And I wish I could get a pet.

If my landlord reads this (and he will), fear not. I understand that I don't have enough space to seriously accommodate a pet.

Growing up back in Adams, my family had dogs, cats, parakeets, turtles and even, briefly, a baby alligator until mom flushed it down our toilet. Bringing to life the legend of a giant alligator roaming the Adams sewers.

But I lived on Glenn Street on about a half-acre of cleared property and another acre of woods. Plenty of land for dogs and cats.

These days, I have less space to clean, which is good. But no space for dogs or cats.

A friend of mine has rescued a number of dogs and suggested a visit to one of the local animal shelters to volunteer to care for the dogs and cats there.

It was a good suggestion. I was at the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter in Pittsfield on an assignment a few weeks ago and I checked it out while I was there.

The first animal I encountered was one of the friendliest dogs I've ever met. He was just so dang happy to see me. Jumped up, barking and wagging his tail. I could almost hear him saying, "Hey! How you doing? Take me home and we can be pals!"

But while we could have been pals, I couldn't take him home. I was sad.

That was heart-rending enough, but the cats are tougher to observe. They sit in their cages and when you come nearer, they look up at you.


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"Oh, hi," one said (in my mind). "Yeah, I'm in here. No, no. Don't worry. I'll be fine. I'm sure someone will come take me away from all this. (sigh). I mean, it could be you. But if not, that's OK. I understand. You're busy. Everybody's busy."

For a while, I pondered an ant farm. Yes, they're still available. You can order them over the Internet. About $25 and up. You can even order a Star Wars Ant Farm, with, I guess, Star Wars ants. I don't know. I didn't check, actually. I just noticed the ad. Thirty-five dollars.

But, you have to deal with, as far as I could see, about 20 to 25 ants. That seemed like a lot. I felt as though I'd have to name them. Give them a sense of identity, you know? The plan I hatched was to name them after the Seven Dwarves, the Magnificent Seven and the Avengers.

As in, "and over there, that's Dopey. No wait, that's the Incredible Hulk. Or Steve McQueen. Ah, I guess I'm not sure."

So that seemed like a bad idea. I tried to find out if I could get an ant farm with maybe four or five ants. Lower maintenance. But I couldn't.

So I'm still thinking about all this. I may return to it in a future column. And if anyone has some suggestions, let me know. Just don't drop anything off on my doorstep!

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.