SOMETIMES I MARVEL how we live so comfortably with other species.

I don't mean children, although occasionally I can't consider them anything but another species. I mean animals, which we sometimes treat better than our kids, mostly because they don't speak enough English to talk back. We give them names. We talk to them. Some of us (not me, but possibly the woman who bore me) buy them sweaters.

Lost weekend

Two incidents last weekend drove home just how much pets mean to us. One of our guinea pigs, which I frequently threaten with wild release to make more space in the house, became ill. Immediately we went into crisis mode. We interrupted our Saturday and couldn't get him to the vet fast enough. I'm sure our concern was comical to the sick guinea pig, whom I saw nudge the other guinea pig with an elbow, as if to say, "Look at how freaked out I just made the stupid humans."

Long story short, $175 and many sighs later, we had Mr. Guinea Pig home. Crisis averted.

The other incident didn't end as well. Not only was it terribly sad, but it made me angry enough to question neighbors before I arm myself for a four-state manhunt.

Someone out there owes us an explanation. Someone not human enough to stop Sunday evening after they ran over my cat not three yards from my driveway.

We're thankful, the cat didn't suffer. As I gently scooped my orange-furred pal off the road, I wondered what kind of person drives away after killing a member of my family.

His name was Doctor. I'm not a cat person, but if you knew Doctor, you didn't have much of a choice. He threw himself at you until you had no recourse but to love him. His eyes were slightly crossed, and he drooled when pet more than 30 seconds. There were times I went outside at night to commiserate with him, when he was the only living thing willing to listen to my problems. The raccoons just hiss at me.

Have some courage

At the very least, his killer could have summed the courage to come to the front door and explain why they couldn't evade a slow, 10-year-old cat who was three-quarters the way across the street.

My neighborhood, which is near an incredibly busy suburban intersection, functions as a high-speed shortcut. The city knows this, because it frequently sends motorcycle cops to camp at the corner. But they can't get all of them. So many of us don't let our children ride their bikes and Big Wheels anywhere near our front yards.

My wife and I fear the day someone tears around the corner, loses control and ends up in our front yard. And wouldn't you know it, while writing that last sentence, I heard squealing tires signaling yet another speed run.

Just a few weeks ago our city, which I won't name (it starts with a "con" and ends with a "cord"), was presented with a petition from my neighbors, asking for speed bumps to lessen the impact of our daily Daytona 500. They were told the city has bigger problems. Tell that to Doctor. Or, worse, tell it to a parent one of these days.

No, it's no mystery why we love our pets so much. Because compared to some humans, they make a lot more sense.

Reach Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog, "Insert Foot," at www.ibabuzz.com/insertfoot.