I’ve never really been a ‘pet’ person. Probably because I don’t enjoy taking care of other living things. A fun fact I discovered about myself after I had my third baby. No one was more surprised than me to learn I’m more of a “me first” girl when it comes to things like personal hygiene, sleeping and eating.
And right now every ounce of my being is consumed with the legal responsibility of keeping alive a 2, 3 and 4-year-old. Adding another furry little bag of neediness to my load would result in the rest of what’s left of my hair falling out. The drool, the shedding, the poop, the fact that they might brush up against you with their gross body or god forbid touch you with their slobbery nose… ack. I’m literally starting to feel hives creeping up my neck right now.
So we have that, and also the fact that my husband is (literally) deathly allergic to fur. Like, four trips to the ER and one ambulance ride later and we had to find another home for my cat after we moved in together and discovered Nick’s body was dander-averse.
No. We are not pet people.
My 4-year-old is a pet person. Ellie is so desperate for a pet that she created an imaginary dog who has followed her literally everywhere for over a year. In fact, her “dog” is such a fixture in her life that at our parent teacher conference her teachers were in utter disbelief when I told them we don’t have a dog and I don’t know if they believed me or her.
Seeing her little face light up when one of our neighbors’ dogs stops by the back yard for a visit… well let’s just say she’s never looked at me that way. And because I am currently neck and neck with my husband for the Parent of the Month award, I decided for her fifth birthday next week I am –gulp– going to get her a pet.
There are many choices when it comes to choosing a pet, so I sat down and made a list of must-haves. The requirements for our new pet included: Hairless, silent, cage happy, odorless, toothless, resilient when it comes to being alive and enjoy cleaning toilets.
I decided on a turtle.
Driving to PetSmart my expectations for our new reptilian family member would be that he would cost less than $10, eat grass clippings I found in the yard, and happily live in a shoe box in the garage.
The tortise was $120. The smaller water turtles were $75 each, but required “much more maintenance” according to the turtle guy. He started going into detail about lamps and filters and habitats and checking the chemical balance of the water weekly as he showed me the 14-gallon tanks and oh my god the hives started creeping up my neck again.
I had to interrupt him to ask for a bag I could breathe into because the thought of such intricate care nearly gave me a stroke. It’s a turtle for crying out loud, and it came with more responsibility than a newborn snow leopard. I don’t remember running out of the store but when I came to I was curled up in a ball in the back of my mini van.
When I told this story to my friends they started selling me on the idea of a fish. Which I had thought of before, but I really wanted something she could hold and play with in the yard and take for walks (even if it was in a wagon).
And it makes me sad, because I know how awesome she would be taking care of a pet. Going to visit my parents she is first and foremost excited about seeing Daisy the dog, and secondly her grandparents. Sorry Mom and Dad – it’s a close second. Please still send me birthday money.
So now I’m back to square one on the fifth birthday present. I’m thinking maybe some toilet bowl cleaner and a scrub brush.