Monday, March 1, 2010

Pet Shop Girl

First - there was Rufus the Cat. Rufus was Paul and my first pet together (pre-kids). He seemed docile enough when I picked him out at the pet store (Paul had steered me into the pet shop trying to avoid a "sidewalk sale" - big mistake!). Turns out they must have drugged the cat. By the time we had him in the car going home he was already clawing his way out of the box. And just a day later he was clinging to my bare back like one of those Garfield the Cat car window stuffies. I'd just come out of the shower and was toweling off when he pounced, claws out, onto my back. It took a lot of squealing and twirling before I managed to dislodge Rufus. Yes, Rufus was a feisty cat. Many called him "mean", "psycho", "crazy", and "possessed." I just called him mine and loved him in spite his faults. Although, I admit that at the time I worried that my troubled cat (seriously, he was put on kitty Ritalin) reflected badly on my future parenting skills. Maybe it was because he had been a "latch-key" cat while we were busy working, or maybe it was the name I'd given him - would he have been a nicer cat if I'd called him "Mittens" instead?

Next came Brie. Brie was a yellow lab that I brought home to keep Rufus company. My secretary in Texas had lab puppies. My mistake was to go with her on our lunch breaks to check on them. I couldn't hold a precious little puppy like that and not want to take it home with me. Paul thought it would buy him some time on the baby front. I thought it would be good practice for a baby. We were both wrong. A few months later I was pregnant with Caitlyn. And, if she turned out like Brie - we were in trouble! I took Brie to puppy school where she proceeded to pee in the doggie tunnel (closing it down for the other students), bite through a harness (not even ours), and poop on the floor at graduation. She wasn't much better as she got older. She would only listen to Paul, growled at strangers (I thought labs were supposed to be friendly), and ate anything leather. Where was the "Dog Whisperer" then?

In the end our vet recommended that we have poor Rufus put down because of his aggressiveness. It was a sad day for me but we couldn't risk poor Caitlyn getting bit. And Brie went to live with Paul's parents when we moved into our new house in Calgary since we didn't have a fence. Now she's living on a farm chasing cows around. (When his parents told us they had given her to a farm many of our friends thought that I was being naive and that Brie had actually "bought the farm!") Not true - she is alive and happy.

Our post-children pets have been limited to Siamese Fighting Fish. That is if you can really call those things pets. It's not that I don't like aquariums. I like Nemo and all. It's just that fish are pretty boring. After the first week of excitement, Caitlyn and Jack no longer wanted to clean the tank, feed the fish, or even acknowledge their presence. And in spite of my less than stellar fish care, those suckers refused to die. Once we were finally rid of the last one I decided that avoiding pet shops was the best option. That worked until recently.

After visiting their cousins at Christmas my kids were intent on getting a new pet. Luckily this kind did not involve toilet training, paying for a friend's antibiotics after getting bitten, pooper scooping, or picking pet hair off my butt. And, from what I could tell, they didn't seem to have the long lifespan that I hated with the fish.

Hermit crabs.

My nephew bought three of them with his Christmas money. Unfortunately he was down one crab just three days later. We all attended Pincher the Crab's funeral where he was fittingly eulogized by my nephew, niece, Jack and Caitlyn. Songs were sung and tears were shed as Pinchers was described as a "being like a brother" to Aidan. (I felt bad for Aidan but I admit that I had to stifle a giggle at that part in the ceremony). Jack said that he was sad that it was a closed casket (he'd never had the opportunity to meet Pinchers) and wondered if there would be a cremation. Despite the loss (another one died a week later), both of my children hoped that the pet stores in Australia also stocked hermit crabs. To their delight, my Mom bought them their own two hermit crabs - Link and Zelda.

So far (knock on wood), the two are still alive and well. In fact, Caitlyn is busy organizing their wedding. (I'm not sure if it will be a same-sex one or not as I have no idea how to check out a hermit crab's "parts"). The wedding is scheduled for this week and she's already invited guests and made a chapel.

The kids are older now and have been good about taking responsibility for the crabs. At least I can't be blamed now for any issues with these pets. So, here's hoping that when the crabs exchange their vows on Wednesday the two have a little time together before "till death do they part."


  1. love it!! Bailey and Addy had two hermit crabs too.. Rob named them Itchy and Scratchy.. Bailey would tell people, Guess what?? My auntie gave me crabs and they are called itchy and scratchy!! lol

    Poor Itchy died a few weeks after we got him. They are pretty low maintence although they kinda creep me out. Do yours crawl around much?

    Take care Jenny. Say hi to the kids for us.


  2. what a fun read. you have an amazing talent. be well, jan

  3. I'm thinking hermit crabs are better than hamsters. We got a hamster on a Saturday. Nine days later we had ten. Turns out Peanut was pregnant and I had exactly eight weeks before the babies went exponential on me. I now had seven females and three males. You do the math.
    Glad to know that Brie is still kicking, though I'd ask for a proof of life photo if I were you!
    Big hugs!