There is a guy who has been walking through the Marina in San Francisco recently with his very own small circus. It’s a fascinating sight that snarls pedestrian traffic and draws a crowd wherever it goes. It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed and I can’t help but write about it.
The best way I can describe it is a cat and two rats on top of a dog. I know that it sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss story, but it’s true. The dog is a Rottweiler Lab mix and on his back he is carrying a American Tabby. Draped around the cat’s neck are two pet rats. This menagerie of four creatures is an amazing sight, to say the least.
The man behind the madness is Greg Pike, a 40-something drifter from Telluride, Colorado who has an uncanny ability to make animals do whatever he desires, it seems. When I asked him how his foursome of pets came together, stacked upon each other and apparently okay with it, he said, “I did it because people said it couldn’t be done.”
The stunt has gained Pike national recognition and garnered him more than his requisite 15 minutes of fame. He and his animals have been featured on David Letterman, CNN, and are a favorite on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D85yrIgA4Nk
I spent a couple of hours with Pike the other day and it was fascinating to see how people (mostly tourists visiting San Francisco) reacted to the spectacle. Most were enthralled and eager to ask questions. “Do they ever fight?” “What are their names?” “Can I pet the dog?” “Can I hold one of the rats?” Pike is very cordial and extremely patient, especially with kids. He asks for donations, but isn’t pushy about it.
Some passers by are immediately skeptical. One woman said, “You must have drugged those poor animals!” Pike’s response was, “What would I drug them with?” He pretty much blew her off. Why can’t folks just take something wonderful at face value, rather than look for a conspiracy? I was not as nice to the woman. “We gave her your Xanax!” I replied.
Pike puts it all in perspective. He realizes that he isn’t changing the world with his canine, feline and mouse mountain, but he also believes that if he can slightly alter one person’s attitude about how humans and animals need to live together in peace, natural enemies or not, then it’s a worthwhile endeavor to him.
“People try to call me a ‘pet whisperer’, but I’m just a simple guy who taught a couple of creatures a few tricks,” he said. “Some writer called me a modern day St. Francis and I laughed. It’s gained me a little fame and I’m happy for it. I’m not using it to preach or politicize or anything like that. I just thought people would enjoy seeing it, so I’m out here.”