Some houses embrace a no-pet rule. Ours isn’t one of them.
Over the years, we’ve welcomed lizards, fish, dogs, hermit crabs, fire belly toads, tree frogs, guinea pigs, a bird, and a dwarf hamster. Whew. It’s an exhaustive list. I draw the line at tarantulas. You have to put down your foot sometimes.
I believe that kids raised with pets learn responsibility and compassion. Or I did until we opened our own private zoo.
The reality differs a bit. On the upside, I can clean a guinea pig cage in no time flat. (I mention that in the off chance I need to bulk up my resume.)
While the majority of the animals’ daily care falls to me, the boys do love on those animals. Sometimes I wonder if I need to file a restraining order.
All except Fuzzy. We added a guinea pig to our menagerie three years ago. “Please, please, please,” the boys begged. “We promise, promise, promise.”
My dad once referred to Fuzzy’s cage as “the prison.” He wasn’t far off the mark: Food and water twice a day and confinement to a small space with little interaction with the outside world.
“Why don’t you play with Fuzzy?” I suggest. To my surprise the boys agree. I credit Rachel, a sweet little girl who joins us in the mornings, for renewing the boys’ interest in their long-forgotten pet. She often kneels by Fuzzy, talking softly in little-girl-speak while slipping fresh carrots through the slats of his cage.
Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled. The boys pull her (him?) out to play. There’s carrot feeding, obstacle runs, a free-form guinea pig dash across the carpet.
And a promise, promise, promise to play with Fuzzy tomorrow.