From the moment my kids could speak they have begged me for a dog. Which is unfortunate for them because: A. My husband is deathly allergic to fur, and B. I am at maximum capacity for cleaning poop.
A shell bearing sea creature was not exactly on my list of ‘things I need in my life right now’, but I do appreciate the value of learned responsibility via keeping things alive, and a change of heart is just a flush away so welcome to our home, creepy hermit crabs. Because really, what says ‘loyal companion’ more than a black-eyed, soul-less crustacean?
I’m semi-familiar with hermit crabs because we had them as kids. My uncle lives in Florida and one Christmas he found three on the beach, boxed them up and mailed them to Missouri. Several questions still go unanswered about the hows and whys and legalities of that decision.
My first clue that hermit crabs mightn’t be the most desirable of animal companions was the outpouring of volunteers willing to drop them like a hot potato. Within minutes of suggesting we might be in the market on Facebook, several friends were practically throwing them at me.
“We have some! And a cage, and food, and I’ll give you all the cash in my wallet if you’ll just take these things off our hands!” Ignoring the red flags waving in my face, I happily drove around town collecting unwanted crabs; the motley crew now sharing a sand-lined one room loft on the girls’ dresser.
And I must say – they are not the worst pets I’ve had. They’re quiet, appreciate my cooking and not once have I had to frantically scour the neighborhood in my bathrobe shaking a bag of cat food over my head screaming “TREATS! TREATS! GODDAMMIT, LUCKY! TREEEEEAAAAAATTTTTSSS!” because someone chewed through the screen door.
The only snafu came last week when I had to Google “how do you know if your hermit crab is dead?”. They’re not the liveliest of God’s creatures. Unlike most other pets whose death is probably obvious, I’ve had to give those lazy little fellas the sniff test more than once. Which, fine. An animal that you can poke with a pair of tweezers and still not be 100% on its living status is the perfect speed for me right now.
And even when, heaven forbid, things start to go downhill and it looks like we have to pull the plug… well let’s just say God never closes a door without opening a window.
My girls have been surprisingly stoic. Most kids would complain if they asked for a dog and got a crab, but mine are probably still under the impression the hermit crabs are simply a gateway pet to one that actually has a soul. A test I’m giving them, and if they do a good job they will awaken one morning to a ribbon tied around a basket filled with chocolate lab puppies. So they make make the best of the situation by hot gluing bows to their shells and threading a leash through the terrarium, ‘walking’ them around the block in their wagon.
I’m sure there’s an equal amount of love and appreciation reciprocated between all parties involved.