Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Do Not Need Pets. We Have Children.

We have children. We do not need pets.  This has long been my stance on pet ownership.  I’m not a fan.  I had a turtle once.  He died.  I had a dog in grad school.  He ate his own poop and ultimately had to go live somewhere else.  That’s pretty much my history on house pets and I am totally good with that history.  However, my family did not feel the same.  Last year, my dear hubby, The Turk, decided that it was time for us to get a dog.  Being pregnant and surlier than usual at the time, I suggested we try fish first instead to test our readiness for a larger, more demanding pet like a dog.   Being the omniscient being that all mothers are, I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that the members of my family were capable of taking care of a four legged friend.  

The Turk is the kind of man who becomes easily obsessed with an idea.  As he was about to get his American citizenship he was obsessed with the idea of an All-American life which included his sons frolicking through the yard with a K-9 companion and himself sitting on the sofa watching basketball sharing a salty
snack with his new furry bestie.  He’d determined that the best fit for our family was a bulldog and I will
admit that a snarly, hostile breed with an alpha male disposition would fit right in here, but I also know the Turk well enough to know that the minute drool hit the carpet, things would get ugly.  The Turk is just that – a Turk.  They are a breed of people obsessed with cleanliness and trying to keep up with their standards drove me into the open arms of my dear Martha Stewart.  Anyone that has ever lived with an indoor pet knows that germaphobes and pets do not live well together.  Thus, I suggested a long-term trial with the fish.

We started our adventure with the unexpected deaths of Luke Skywalker Fish and his comrade Han Solo Fish.  It was tragic.  A week later we lost an entire school of Storm Trooper guppies due to improper water treatment as performed by my husband – the water treatment engineer.  We made it a few more months before the untimely death of Darth Vader Fish.  He was injured while swimming through the window of Sponge Bob’s house and his wounds would not heal.  And then there were three, a sucker fish with no desire to be seen by humans-ever-, a lone surviving Storm Trooper and JarJar Binks Fish – the fish that simply would not die.

This odd threesome thrived through the birth of the Mini Turk when Mom forgot to feed them –repeatedly-  a busy start to kindergarten when we tried to introduce the concept of being responsible for feeding your own pets to a 5 year old, and a winter of subzero temperatures living a little too close to the window.  The rougher things got, the stronger they seemed to grow.  The problem with fish is that they don’t complain.  They don’t bark to let you know they’re hungry or scratch to let you know their home needs cleaned.  So the longer we had these three survivors, the more often we forgot to clean the tank and the grosser things got.

We determined a few weeks ago that maybe we were not the best family for these fish and it was time to find them a new home.  In the midst of making relocation arrangements, I went in to feed JarJar and the boys one morning only to discover that most of the water in their tank was missing.  One step closer and I found all of that stanky fish water - it was now permeating the floor, bookcase and all nearby toy receptacles in the Midget’s room.  Somehow, Sponge Bob’s lair inhabited by JarJar and his crew had sprung a leak and these three fish were seconds away from becoming free range.

I was able to get the boys temporary housing in a trick-or-treat bucket but I can only imagine the kind of PTSD that those fish experienced going from a life in a pineapple under the sea, into a plastic bucket with remnants of Butterfinger.  But it was better there than the alternative –swept under the rug – literally.

The Turk determined the best thing to do was take them back to the pet store so they could be adopted out to a family more responsible than ours.  If that meant that I no longer had to deal with the smell of fishtank combined with stinky 5 year old boy and dirty diapers, wafting from the end of the hall, I was all in.

Tragically, the surviving Storm Trooper did not make it out of the Halloween bucket alive.  He was looking weak when I rescued him and his demise was not a surprise.  We gave him a fitting burial at sea in the guest bathroom and continued on.    The Turk bundled the remaining two aquatic members of our family in a plastic bag and headed out.  Being the former army commando he is, he planned a covert drop of the bag in the unattended fish department of a nearby Walmart.  “No one pays attention to fish at Walmart.  I leave them in sink.  I run away.  They just think ‘hey, that guy change his mind.’  Problem solved.”  

Not a bad plan, except that as he strolled through Walmart with a plastic bag of fish in water sitting in the child seat of his cart, he was dismayed to learn he was at one of the few Walmarts without a fish section.  When the checkout girl asked what he was doing, my quick-thinking Turk replied.  “Ah, these my pets. They love to shop.  We like take them to shopping every weekend,” before strolling away stonefaced.  That, my friends, is Turkish commando training at work.

He next tried to make the drop at a nearby Petco.  He decided it was best to go legit on this one and waited as Petco’s resident fish nerd waited on another family.  After waiting for 10 minutes to do nothing more than attempt to convince a pimple-faced Petco worked to take back his son’s fish, the Turk gave up.  He slipped the bag into the sink and ran out the door.  As he recounted the story to me he was visibly concerned. 

“There is one problem.”
                “Honey, we got rid of the fish and they are not dead.  What’s the problem?”
“The Petco camera got me.”
                “Got you what?”
“Giving fish.”
“Do you think they can call police?”
“Because I give fish?  I looked weird.”
                “Not as weird as the guy at Walmart who takes his fish shopping.  Besides, I don’t think they can persecute you for giving things back.  Stealing yes.  Giving no.”
“Good.  I worry.”

And so ends the saga of my family’s pet ownership.  Fortunately, the need for a dog has been quelled for now.  Between the drool strung about by the teething Tiny Turk and the angst put upon us by the recent fish debacle, we are in no shape for pets.  Hence, my NO DAMN PETS stance rules for now.  But I’m sure, my victory is momentary.  However, should we need a pet fix, I hear there is a man at Walmart who takes his fish shopping every Saturday…