Written by Lily
Our pet family currently consists of two dogs and two cats. One of the dogs is our new little cock a-tzu puppy. We don’t know how we managed to live before he came into our lives. In the past, we have also had less sturdier pets. A few that quickly come to mind are squirrels, hamsters and an anole(s).
I have a tale of woe about being sold a pregnant dwarf hamster. I had help sexing and separating the surprise litter. A few weeks later, I discovered that we made a mistake and there were more babies cheeping. I didn’t confuse the sexes the second time, and thankfully, there were no more litters.
Anoles are those cute little gecko lizard looking things, we incorrectly just call them chameleons. They do change from green to brown depending on their environment. My son’s anole was interesting to watch. For a reptile, he was quite endearing.
The anole was won by my oldest son in the fourth grade. He had been talking about the contest for days. He felt fortunate to have won such a wonderful prize and so named the lizard Lucky. We set Lucky up in an aquarium and I quickly read up on how to care for him. We were fascinated when it would snatch up a cricket and gulp it down. One night later, I heard my son screaming hysterically. I frantically ran up to his room. The crisis was that Lucky had gotten out and my son was terrified our dogs would eat him. The little guy was safe for the moment because the dogs were downstairs and didn’t know there was something they could chase around and eat. I quickly stuffed towels under the door and helped my son to calm down. He told me he hadn’t opened the aquarium, but Lucky must have climbed out because he was nowhere to be found. We began searching all over the room. I was sure Lucky would never be seen again until I would come upon something small, brown and dried out. Finally, about an hour later, Lucky was found! He was so well hidden that we missed him and he had never left the aquarium.
Two weeks later, my son went to his father’s for their visit and Lucky died. I knew how bad my son would feel and thought I would spare him the pain. I went to the store to buy a replacement. When my son returned home, he went running to his room to see his lizard. He was surprised at how much little Lucky had grown while he had been away. At the store, I had discovered Lucky #1 had been unusually small. I had been forced to go for a bigger Lucky and hoped it was sturdier because of it’s size. My unsuspecting son believed me when I told him how many crickets Lucky had been eating to grow so big so quick. I did feel a little bad about the deception. I couldn’t stand him to be heartbroken so soon after Lucky #1 was brought home.
About a month later, the new and bigger Lucky was too still for too long. He had received excellent care and I have no idea why he died so quickly. While my son was still at school, I ran off to the pet store. Lucky #3 was the same size as Lucky #2, and my son never noticed the switch. I’m pretty sure Lucky #3 was with us for almost two years. Sadly, he developed a fungus and though we treated him, it was his time. My son was sad, but I had told him Lucky might not pull through. He was older and dealt with it in a good way. I wrapped the last Lucky in cloth and buried him in the backyard. No services were held, I just did it for my son and told him where Lucky’s grave was located. The first two Luckys were hidden deep in the trash. I kept the trade-offs a secret and it never entered my mind much after that. Years later, when my son was in high school, my mom asked him how many of those things I had bought. That was the first he had heard of the impostors. He was surprised and touched that I had tried to spare his feelings.
Some of our pets just don’t get to enjoy that long of a life span. I have read that an anole can live up to four years in captivity. I don’t know anyone who has kept one alive that long. I have bought goldfish that died before we even got home. I have never owned one, but I have heard that parakeets can be iffy. The dwarf hamsters that the momma delivered, enjoyed what I thought was unusually long life. They were adorable and sweet, but, I had two aquariums and yet another cage to hold them all. I felt bad when each one of the furballs died and also guiltily relieved that it was one more down. As they went, I tossed them over a hill far in the back of our home. I liked that better than stuffing them in the garbage. If it was snowy when one expired, it did go in the can. I never let my daughter see the bodies even though she asked. It was my experience that once dead, they took on a grotesque look around their face. I was afraid it would upset her too much. She learned at an early age that our hamsters’ life span was only two to three years. She was under three when they were born. When it would happen, she would be make a sad face and feel bad for a moment. It was beyond her grasp and there were always more of them. The last hamster and her momma lived a long time. We got quite attached to our last two. I felt bad for the little hamster that was left alone. The ones we had live in social colonies in their natural environment. When the last one did die and I told my daughter, she cried. She was older and could understand that the last two weren’t coming back.
With certain types of pets, we never know how long they will be with us. I have read that having a pet who doesn’t live long is a good way to help a child’s understanding of death. That was never my intention. But it happens with the more fragile animals we let our children keep, and then we must deal with it.
In a weak moment, did you let one of yours keep a frog they brought home or did you say absolutely not? Do you love or hate gerbils and other little rodents? Have you chased something around your house that you didn’t really even want to touch? Maybe, you have an assortment of little creatures at home. Are you attached to them the same as or more than your child(ren)? Do you swear “never again” and do it anyway? Please share your stories and comments.