As a non-dog owner – yes I know, I don’t understand. As a non-cat owner – yes I know I don’t understand. As a non-gerbil, -parakeet, -gecko owner, I know I ‘ain’t never gonna understand.
I’ve never understood the necessity to receive such non-judgemental love, in exchange for the odd treat, regular meals and an occasional rub of the belly. I don’t believe they truly understand you. I know you think they do. But I don’t. For me, pets are a nuisance. They need looking after, cleaning, exercising and they’re just an extra mouth to feed. I made the mistake of helping bring two creatures just like that into this world – I’m not going to voluntarily hand over cash to make the same mistake again.
My kids bug me for pets but I shrug it off. They bug me to get a cool Audi. They bug me to go to Disneyland. They bug me for a lot of things that won’t be happening anytime soon. When househunting, I searched for apartments that weren’t pet-friendly just so I could say, “ah gee, boys. I’d really love to get a dog too but we’re just not allowed here. Not even a chihuahua!”.
It’s not that we’ve never had a pet. At my eldest’s nursery school’s summer festival, they would have a game known as KINGYO SUKUI which means “goldfish scooping”. Dextrously deficient children attempt to scoop out goldfish from a paddling pool into their own cup and then take their bounty home with them. Every year I watched this horror show: poor fish flapping about all over the place and then put in a plastic bag with sometimes six, seven other goldfish, taken home to who knows what fate. The Japanese are – how shall I put this – not overly concerned with animal rights at the best of times, but this was too much to bear.
As a self-styled piscine Oskar Schindler, I rescued four of these fish from a group of tormenting boys and took them home, on the way stopping at the supermarket and buying a fish tank, a filter and some food. Two of them didn’t last the week. The other two got on rather well and we often had a tank full of fish eggs. Trust me, goldfish stink: their eggs stink, their shit stinks and their food stinks. Before I took a shower, I would change the fish water in our bathtub, trying not to retch. The last of the goldfish left us about a year after their emancipation. I took it out into the garden to bury and my son and I built a mound of stones over its grave. I remember feeling quite touched (and somewhat puzzled) by my son sobbing from his first encounter with death and mourning. My wife shouted out the window, “make sure you bury it deep. I don’t want the neighbour’s cat digging it up again!”.
Back to the present. My son has taken the pet ban on the chin and made his own. In an empty jam jar, he scattered some golden stones from Bray beach, added a little plant and filled it with water. Then, on a piece of clear plastic, he drew his own little goldfish and dropped them into the water. I must say it’s quite sweet. And doesn’t smell at all!
Neat idea, huh? Thank you for reading and I’m going to leave you with this. For no other reason than it’s a cracker.