Earlier today, I met two puppies at a backyard barbecue. They were tiny labradors (one golden, one black) and they ran around excitedly while tugging at their harnesses. At one point, I was handed the harness for one of the dogs, and even though he was too small to drag me anywhere, he certainly gave it the old college try. Although he was adorable and energetic, I couldn’t help thinking about the rigors of owning a dog: the constant walking, feeding, playing, and coddling. Then I thought about my cat, who is self-sufficient to the point where he shows disdain for people. Isn’t there an animal that sits comfortably between needy and aloof? A hamster, maybe?