Monday, October 1, 2007

Responsible Pet Ownership

I am NOT a pet person. As a matter of fact, I really see no purpose in having most pets. I know I'll be hearing it from some people for those comments, but that is my opinion, and this is my blog, where I can post my opinion, so there!
I have had animals, some as pets and some not. For a while growing up, we had a small "farm". We raised chickens, rabbits, a few cows, and pigs. We had a humongous sow named Kupcake; she lived out towards the back of the property, and every year we would put up the side rails on my dads truck, load up Kupcake and drive her to a farm across the river for a conjugal visit. She'd stay a few days to be sure the job was done, and then we'd bring her home and about four months later she'd have little piglets. They were so cute! One litter had an exceptionally small runt that we brought into the house and hand raised for the first month of it's life, just like Charlotte's Web. I think we even named him Wilbur, but unlike the book, reality is that Wilbur met the butcher. I was careful to not get to attached to any of the animals, because they were not usually pets. Besides, it is easy to stay unattached when you have to help with the castration. Yes, I have participated in pig castrations. Care for more info? Ask me about it sometime! I have also participated in chicken butchering, and it is true that when you cut off a chickens head, it can still run around for a short period of time. On butchering day we would have dead, headless chickens lined up on the kitchen counter waiting for the boiling pot. You have to boil a chicken for a short period of time in order to get it's feathers off. And the horrific smell of boiling chicken feathers is something I will never forget.
We also had a few family dogs and often some stray cats, but rarely did pets ever live in our house, with the exception of the runt pig and the occasions when the dogs were let in to get out of the elements. What I remember was that every animal had a purpose. Cats were mousers, dogs were security and everything else was breakfast or dinner!
Now, as an adult, I do not see any reason to have animals as pets, much to the dismay of my children. And believe me, we have tried. When Benjamin was a toddler, a neighbor offered us a kitten from her litter, so we took it. It proceeded to chew up every pacifier that Ben left laying around (which was okay with us since it was time for them to be gone) and pee on my carpet. Since the idea of having a litter box and a toddler just completely grossed me out, I was trying to train the cat to go to the door to be let out, but it just didn't seem to be working. So when the neighbor girl came asking for her kitty back I eagerly obliged. Goodbye Samson.
Shortly after that my sister gave Benjamin a goldfish as a gift, because he was still a toddler the fish had to stay in a common area of the house. One evening after Ben had gone to bed, I cleaned the fish's bowl and left it on the counter next to the sink. The next morning as I walked into the kitchen I noticed that the fish was no longer in the bowl. I asked Dave about it, he knew nothing. I searched for evidence that Ben had somehow done something to it, but there was no mess or anything. As I looked around the counter for the fish a slight glimmer in the garbage disposal caught my eye. I looked in, and sure enough there was Dorothy. She must have jumped out of the bowl sometime in the night, landed in the sink and flip-flopped her way into the garbage disposal. Dorothy was dead.
A few years ago, another offer for a pet came our way. A friend of a friend had a litter of fullbred Black lab puppies. Did we want one? Dave and I talked about it, and decided that a puppy could be fun for our kids. We went to the house and picked out our little male black lab and I named him Tucker (cuz I knew that he would tucker me out!). We brought Tucker home and he proceeded to cry all night, every night for the next week. We were determined to kennel train him, so at one point I even slept on the floor outside his kennel to keep him company. Finally he slept through the night. Then he became a full blown puppy! And puppies chew. And Tucker chose Cooper as his chew toy. And soon Tucker was bigger than Cooper. Tucker would see Cooper and go bounding across the room, knock Cooper down and proceed to "chew" on his face and ears. It was all fun and games to Tucker, but Cooper didn't think so. Cooper would start crying and screaming at the sight of the dog; which Tucker took as his sign to start barking. That in turn would send Ben into hysterics, and he would try to run away. Tucker the puppy liked running, so he would chase Ben. Ben would climb whatever he could to get away from Tucker, and Tucker would run circles around whatever piece of furniture Ben had climbed, barking. The puppy was having so much fun. But I wasn't. Something or someone had to go, and since it's against the law to sell your children, it would have to be the puppy, who by the way was the sweetest dog when my children were sleeping! So after eight weeks with Tucker, we found him a new home. He went to live with a young, single guy who worked for his dad's construction company where all the guys took their dogs to work with them. When he picked Tucker up he loaded the kennel and stuff into the back of the truck, picked Tucker up and put him on the front seat right next to him. Off they drove. So long Tucker.
Well, now it has happened again. Again the offer for a pet came our way. This time my nephew was selling a five gallon aquarium. He offered the entire set up, including two small fish to us for $12. I told Ben that we could have it if he paid for half. I was trying to teach him responsibilty. Of course Ben is not one to pass up a chance to spend his money or mine, so we now own a cute little fish tank, with a lid! Here is the problem. I think one of the fish is either sick, crazy or pregnant. I can't remember what kind of fish they are, they look like little goldfish, but they aren't actually goldfish, they are dwarf something or anothers. Ben has named them Bubbles and Flipper. Well, Bubbles has a large, distended white belly and Flipper does not. They both used to swim to the front of the tank when we would approach it, but now when we are standing at the tank only Flipper comes to the front and Bubbles swims frantically back and forth at the back of the tank. I guess we'll find out soon what her issue is. Does anyone know the gestation period for fish?


Big Sista said...

That reminds me of a couple chickens I bought that turned out to be Turkeys! Appropriately named Thanksgiving and Christmas!

infarrantly creative said...

I am so not an animal person either. I am with ya on that one

Judy C said...

Pig castration??? You have had THE most interesting life! Would love to hear that story sometime.

~Kelli~ said...

Trish, you are so funny! I've heard that skinning the chickens is 10x faster and less messy than plucking feathers...I'm going to try that...good luck with the fish, I don't know anything about them so I have no advice...we had an awesome night at homegroup on Tuesday...the discussion was graet and I learned so much by the conversations we were all guys would have enjoyed it...
anyhow, good luck with the fish! I don't think they live long but maybe they do.