Posted by: laughs4dads | May 17, 2010

How Much Is That Puppy (Goldfish, Hamster, Frog, Rabbit, Kitten, Etc.) in the Window? Part IV: Pets Evolve

Last week I wrote about my daughter’s first pet, a goldfish named Pretzel. With the hindsight of 23 years, I would now recommend a simpler organism as a first pet, perhaps something that can only be seen through a microscope.

But whether your child’s first pet is an amoeba or an aardvark, one thing is almost certain: there will be a second pet.

Often, this second pet is seen as a step up from the first. In our case, our daughter had her heart set on something that could survive out of water…something that could sit in her lap…something that could poop more prodigiously…and, most important, something that could get loose in the house.

Thus, we quickly went through a series of hamsters. Then we made a terrible mistake. We allowed Casey to go to school.

Kindergarten and first grade teachers love having little animals in the classroom, presumably so the kids have something to look at while the teacher is surreptitiously popping Tylenol. The downside is that these creatures can’t stay by themselves over weekends, and so they are sent home with students on a rotating basis via selection by lottery.

Casey, it seemed, was very lucky. She might never win PowerBall, but she sure got to take home a lot of animals. Cynic that I am, I even got to thinking that, perhaps, she was the only one playing.

One weekend, I remember, our bathtub was full of ducklings. Another weekend, our guest was a rabbit named Snowball. And the interesting thing about Snowball was: she never left.

Not only did she remain in our house, stinking up the room I had hoped would someday be a den, but it turned out that she was the Methuselah of bunnies, living until Casey was about to go off to college. Further, she had a genetic deformity that made her tooth grow unabated to the point where she wouldn’t be able to eat, so I had to shlep her to the vet once a month and get her tooth filed for $15.  She also had a habit of getting this horrific expression on her face that somehow communicated “I would tear you to pieces if I could get out of this cage…and if I could chew.”

At the same time, there were frogs in our home. I know what you’re thinking, but, no, it was not a plague. We actually purchased these frogs–mail order–from a company called Grow-a-Frog. They come as tadpoles in Styrofoam containers like take-out food, and it’s fascinating to watch them morph into frogs that never come out of the water except in the case of one of ours that jumped out of its tank and happened to land in a suitcase that Barbara was packing for a trip to Boston.

For a day or two, the Mystery of the Disappeared Frog engrossed the Hallen family. Then it grossed out the Hallen Family when the little corpse was discovered in some underwear.

Anyway, we’ve lost four frogs along the way: the traveler I just mentioned; the one that went down the drain when I was changing the water; the one that, as near as we can tell, was eaten by another frog (named Fatso); and one that died of, we think, natural causes.

We still have two frogs. We got them when Casey was in kindergarten. She is now two years out of college. Every once in awhile, I look at the Grow-a-Frog website, where it still says, I swear, that the average life span is five years.

And now we are ready (and you knew this was coming) to talk about dogs, which I will do in my next post on Wednesday.



  1. I am utterly shocked that you neglected to mention Snowball’s crowd-pleasing habit of peeing OUTSIDE the cage while he was still INSIDE the cage! It was really amazing the first few times I saw it, until I realized that the futon we used for sleepovers was directly in his path…

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