I love animals, always have. My parents said I began petitioning for a pet dog shortly after exiting the womb. So when my daughter asked for fish for her seventh birthday, it seemed like a no-brainer. We got gold fish. Note to future gold-fish owners: They don’t do well in bowls. Two days after her birthday, with the three fish painstakingly named and characteristics assigned (Natalie was the shy one; Lolla, the inquisitive one; and Dorie, the happy one), we settled in to watch them frolic amidst the plastic greenery. Natalie took ill first, followed swiftly by Lolla. After several frantic calls to the pet store, we determined that a bowl was the wrong environment, that we had purchased the fish from a less-than-adequate supplier and that Dorie, the happy one, was soon going to be Dorie the tragic.
“I suggest a pond for your goldfish,” said the young ichthyologist at the pet shop specializing in fishies.
“We’ve got to get Dorie to a pond stat!” I called to my husband over my daughter’s tears.
Off we went with Dorie in a sterilized peanut butter jar (Natalie and Lolla having been respectfully buried by this point) to the nearest pond. With all the joy and anticipation of the Adamsons releasing Elsa the Lion back into the wild (“She was born free, and she’s got to live free!”), we sent Dorie off to stretch her fins in Mother Nature’s bounty. After some reminiscing about all the good times we’d had during our 48 hours together, we walked away, hand in hand, to let Dorie get acclimated on her own.
Suddenly I felt a tug. “Look, Mom, look! Dorie’s got friends!!!”
I turned and sure enough there were two ducks zooming toward Dorie. With friends like those….
We tried a Betta next. So easy, the pet store assured us. Well, Bluestar has been with us fifteen months now, it’s true, but easy? I don’t know. We’ve spent waayyy more on accessories for Bluestar’s comfort than we’ve spent on our own home this past year, we’ve dropped him twice during heart-stopping (for us) water changes, and now he is ill with ich and clamp. We’re medicating him appropriately, but it doesn’t look good. And my daughter, who can no longer hear the words “tuna sandwich” without dissolving into tears because someone, somewhere is eating a fish, may be about to bid farewell once more to a finned friend.
It’s aging me, and we all know by now how I feel about that.
Well, I’ve got to return to the fish watch now. We’re attending him pretty much around the clock.
What was your favorite pet as a kid?