It is a truth universally acknowledged that a busy mom of four children must be in want of a pet.
Or so my kids tell me.
I beg to differ.
Instead, I subscribe to another universal truth: non-animal lovers often care for their friends' pets while they are on vacation. While I have done this many times with a happy heart (Jennifer, this includes Bailey), there have been other experiences that weren't so savory.
Last night Garry and I were reminiscing about the summer of 1999, when two unfortunate house-sitting incidents were seared into our memories. At one house, a senile German Shepherd had a massive bout of diarrhea that she spread all over the kitchen, three bedrooms, and the living room. We spent hours gagging and puking as we cleaned it up. And then the dumb dog did it again. A couple of weeks later we house-sat for another family with a yippy little mutt who left poop nuggets all over the house -- all the time, day after day. It was horrifying. I became quite determined never to have a dog, especially an indoor dog.
Another time, as a teenager, I accompanied my sister to feed her friends' pets while they were out of town. Imagine our dismay when we discovered that one of the rats had died. I believe we used pliers to pick it up and dispose of it in the trash can. We were both traumatized for life.
I did have my own fish as a child. Among them were guppies that reproduced exponentially. The parent guppies would eat the baby guppies, so the babies got relocated from the tank to a fish bowl. I didn't like to clean the bowl, and it got really gross. My brother, Eric, took it upon himself to stir the goopy fish pond with a wooden spoon. The fish became garden fertilizer.
The family of my youth briefly owned a bird, as well. The tiny yellow thing was rescued from a rainstorm when we saw it being tossed about the front yard. Though beautiful, it was noisy and stinky. It didn't stay for long.
Sometimes I feel guilty for depriving my family of what some believe is a quintessential part of childhood, but mostly I'm glad not to be responsible for another loud, messy, smelly creature who needs to be potty-trained. I realize that there are perks to pet ownership, but I choose not to dwell on them. The above argument has worked for me for a long time.
That is why I'm happy about the Beta fish we are babysitting for ten days. Our neighbor is out of town and Moby needs a temporary home. We will feed him and love him for a while (and try not to kill him), and then send Moby on his merry way. The kids are happy and I get Cool Mom points. Win-win.