Posted by: laughs4dads | May 14, 2010

How Much Is That Puppy (Goldfish, Hamster, Frog, Rabbit, Kitten, Etc.) in the Window? Part III: The First Pet (continued)

In today’s post, I continue my story about my daughter’s first pet.

Pretzel, the goldfish, made it through its first day in our home. Then, the next day, Casey’s Aunt Karen and Uncle Gary, the Troublemaker, came over.

“Your fish is suffocating,” Gary said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I used to work in a pet store.  You see how he’s swimming near the top of the bowl?  That means he’s not getting enough air.”

“Maybe we should get him a little scuba tank,” I said.  “Are you suggesting that our fish is drowning?”

But Gary was taking this seriously.  “Exactly,” he said, with a look that indicated he was considering reporting me to the ASPCA.  “A bowl like this doesn’t have enough surface area.  And another thing.  Without a filter and an aerator, you’ll have to change the water almost every day.  Did you let him sit in the water before you put him in?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, you filled the bowl and let the bag he came in sit on top of it, right?  To get him used to the change in temperature?”

“Uh, no.”

“I’m surprised he’s still alive.”

I never thought I’d feel so guilty about mistreating a fish.  The next day, we had a $100 designer aquarium for our $3.99 goldfish.

We put it together according to the instructions, and it seemed to be working all right, except that we had a piece left over.  “Maybe it’s an optional piece,” I said.

“What if Pretzel dies when we put him in?” Barb asked.

“Then we flush him.”

She frowned.  Casey liked feeding Pretzel every day, but we really didn’t know how attached she was to it or if she’d recognize the difference if we replaced him with a fish of approximately the same color.  On the other hand, it seemed to me that perhaps Barbara had grown inordinately fond of the little guy, so I decided prudence was in order.

So I went out and bought another fish, a white one with orange trim.  I came home and dumped him in the new aquarium.

“It’s a test fish,” I explained.  “If he lives till tomorrow, then we’ll put Pretzel in.”

Meanwhile, Casey named the new fish Bigby for no apparent reason.

The next day, we put Pretzel in his new home and he responded immediately to the new environment by viciously attacking Bigby.

“He’s gonna kill him,” Barbara said.

“Nah.  They’re just playing,” I said.  “Who knows?  They may even be mating.”

And sure enough, by the next day, Pretzel and Bigby were acting like an old married couple, completely ignoring each other.

Then Karen and Gary came over.

“Oh, this is much better,” Gary said.  “But you’ll need a catfish.” Did I mention he’s a troublemaker?

Three years earlier, I had been fishing in a little lake and I caught a big, black catfish that was so ugly, I wouldn’t even take it off the hook.  Really.  I called my friend to remove it.  I didn’t think such a creature would go well with our designer aquarium.

“No, they have tiny ones,” Gary said when I told him my reservations.  “They’re scavengers, and they clean the bottom of the tank.  You won’t have to vacuum it so often.”

Even though I didn’t think Barbara had any intention of sticking her Hoover into the aquarium, I dutifully went to the pet store and bought a tiny albino catfish that swam along the bottom of our tank, eating whatever it is catfish eat, probably goldfish droppings.  To show that the catfish had no stature whatsoever, that it was simply a janitor with fins, we didn’t even bother to name it.

And then, one day, we went to the pet store to buy fish food, and Casey really took a liking to this guinea pig…

Monday: Mammals

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