As a child, I would hug my puppy all day, sleep with it in my bed, and let it lick me all over my face. Her name was Goldie, a gorgeous golden Cairn Terrier, and I loved her. I always thought I’d have a puppy for my kids. But then I grew up and reality hit. A puppy is way too much work. Of course this is strictly my own personal view- as millions of people have dogs and other such pets. And I wish I could be one of those people- unfortunately I am not.
My kids aren’t happy with me. They want a dog. Badly. Desperately. To be honest, as they get older, I’m not completely against the idea- as long as it is hypoallergenic. You see- my allergies to animals would land me in the hospital. They nearly did. Twice. On a horse. I know, I know. What in the world made me get on the horse the second time if I almost died the first time? Well, for the picture on the top of the mountain in Puerto Rico, overlooking the beach, of course. What? You don’t think that would be worth it? It wasn’t! And I learned the hard way.
So back to present day, every time my kids see someone walking a puppy, the topic comes up. Usually sounding something like this:
“Mommy, can we get a dog?”
“Because I’m allergic, and your father isn’t such a fan of pets.”
“So what! You’re so mean! Everyone has pets.”
“Ok, then you are welcome to visit any of their homes and play with their pets.”
Usually the subject is closed after that exchange. But it definitely comes up again shortly after. And then the unthinkable happened. I heard cheering and laughing, giggling and hooting as the kids came off the elevator into our apartment. Why you ask? Why?! Because there were FISH in a bag! Real life, swimming-in-water, slippery, slimy fish. In a bag.
And just like that, I became the not-so-proud pet owner of 3 fin-flapping fish. Well, I wasn’t going to let them stay in the bag- I put them into a container. After 3 days of cleaning out the container of their lovely mess they left for me, I headed to the pet store. To buy a tank. With a filter. So I wouldn’t have to clean up their mess.
I walked into Jungle Pets in Jerusalem’s Malcha Mall. Ariel Diamant and Moshe Levy were so happy to help me pick out a tank for these 3 deserving-of-a-real-home fish. So I bought a tank. And pebbles. And a filter. And 4 more fish! What?! You read that right! Somehow, my heart opened up to 4 more fish. And then the next day, my heart must have really been open, because I went back to Jungle Pets, and bought 3 more fish and a fake plant! For a grand total of 10 fish.
My kids were thrilled. And I guess I was too. I mean, they are pretty swimming through the water as I look up from my computer as I blog about them. I just hope that these fish aren’t a “gateway pet” to a bigger-more-demanding pet. Each time we visit the mall, there has to be a stop to the Jungle pet store. The kids tell me they “just want to see the other fish.” But really, it’s a trap. They beg and plead for a rabbit..a hamster.. a dog. And each time, Ariel and Moshe show them attention and patience and laugh at me. I’m sure they laugh at me. It is quite a comedy show. I manage, somehow, to have my kids leave the store because they know they’ll visit again next time. And for now, that works. And they are all more than welcome to own any type of pet their hearts desire when they have their own home.
But a word to the wise. Fish die. And I was not prepared to be a terrible fish mother. So each time one dies, my heart sinks, along with the fish in the water. Then we conduct a fish funeral in the bathroom to send it out to the ocean or where ever else the pipes will lead it. The kids are sad each time but quickly get over it, already discussing which fish they will replace it with. This is so different from how it was when my dog died. I was a wreck for so long- never wanting to replace it. There is a definite emotional difference between fish and dogs. And maybe that’s where the not wanting a pet stems from- the death of my own pet.
So for now, this allergic-to-all-animals-mom will be okay with her lot of fish. And truth be told, sometimes it feels like I live in my own jungle with my wonderful, larger-than-life, energetic children. And that is fine with me!