Lassie, Ribsy, Ralph S. Mouse, Three Little Kittens, Clifford, Fly Guy, Maisy, Skippyjon Jones and more...animals are all around our kids in the books we read to them and in the shows they see on TV. Should it be any surprise when they want to bring a real, live, pet into the household? In a word: No.
Our family of eight (four humans, two cats and two mice) has had a good run so far with pets. There has been laughter, there have been tears, there have been moments of cuddly bliss, and times of aghast horror...cat vomit on the floor first thing in the morning, anyone?! Let me share some memories...
First there was Milo, named for the orange cat in the wonderful movie Milo and Otis. I got Milo during the last few years of my single-girl life and he accompanied me into marriage, getting his own little friend in the bargain, Zippy our sweet Siamese mix. For seven years they were my "kids" and then...Katherine appeared, followed by Robert.
Fast forward a few years, Katherine is almost three and the potty is a BIG topic of conversation. In some moment of desperation, her dad and I have promised her a pet fish when she starts to p**p on the toilet. The glorious day finally arrives and daddy takes his proud little girl to PetSmart where they pick out some of the ugliest fish I have ever seen along with the most garish fish habitat ever created.
Eventually the fish died and the tank sat empty until we got some tadpoles. This provided an excuse to get lots of books from the library and a good lesson on metamorphosis for all of us...and those little frogs were awfully cute.
The baby frogs were liberated to a nearby stream in the summer of 2010 and by fall, our darling Zippy was ailing. Milo had passed away a couple of years prior, when the kids were too little to really miss him. But by this point, the kids were very aware and when Zippy died there were many, many tears. The house felt empty without the pitter patter of tiny paws for a couple of weeks until...
Cinnamon (a kitten) entered our lives in October of 2010. He spent the first few weeks of his new life mostly hidden behind our entertainment cabinet but eventually was brave enough to come out and face the family. But how could we have an odd number in the house? One cat just wasn't enough, so a few months later we brought Felicity home from the local SPCA. At about the same time we dusted off the old aquarium, fit it with a mesh top, and brought two mice into the household: Oreo and Caramel. The kids were thrilled with the mice...for about a week. It has been about nine months now and guess "who" cares for and loves on those little whiskered rodents? Yes, it's yours truly.
Fortunately, I love animals so it is not too hard for me to take the lead role on their care. Where I draw the line, at least for now, is a dog. Recently the troops (well, the bipeds in the house) have started agitating for a canine companion. "No," I say, "no!" Until someone else is cleaning out the mice habitat and sponging up the cat vomit I draw a line in the sand: people, cats and mice on this side ... dogs on that side.
And so it goes...kids and animals, animals and kids...somehow they just go together. Then again, maybe I'm fooling myself as to who most needs the pets in our house. Maybe it's actually me. Katherine and Robert are getting bigger and more independent every day but my furry "babies" will always need me!