Saturday, April 28, 2007

Born Free

Let it be known that the Open Door Policy in our household is now defunct.
Let me explain. In November 2006, the animal population in our home was four -- a dog, a cat and two birds. For me, that was two birds too many. By March 2007 the population had grown to nine. Three toads and two mice joined the brood.
I never intended this to happen. The toads were a result of a carefully orchestrated plan by girl-child and DH. She wanted toads. Swore she would take full responsibility. So, as a part of proving that responsiblity, the plan was that she would save her money until she had enough to buy the aquarium, lamps, assundry supplies, and, of course, the toads. 10 years old. Mere pittance of an allowance. Great affinity for spending as fast as it comes in. Toads? Never gonna happen. Never underestimate the determination of a 10-year-old girl. By the end of the year, adding in birthday and Christmas money, she had her toads.

Next scene: Trip to Petco to buy crickets for said toads. I'm chatting up the store manager, inquiring about their adoption program and the possiblity of unloading two birds. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I get side swiped while 13-year-old son visits the 'adoption corner.' We walked out the door with crickets, 10-lbs of bird seed and TWO FREE MICE FROM SAID ADOPTION PROGRAM.
At this point, I'm nominating myself for the Idiot of the Year Award, and my friends don't even feel sorry for me.
A couple weeks ago I came to my senses. I was attempting to do something around the house, but by the time I had cleaned the cat box, cleaned the bird cage, cleaned the fish bowl (oh, yeah, somewhere along the way we acquired a Beta Fish), I . had. HAD. it. DH was working in the garage. "I need intervention. Now. Come with me to Petco, we're unloading the birds." He dropped everything and ran for the car keys.
So, the birds were gone, but I still had a problem. 13-year-old son's room was now an aromatic mixture of dirty socks and mice. I attempted to remedy the problem one day by dousing the place in Febreze carpet powder, Febreze spray and Febreze plug-in deodorizers. To which his response was (wrinkled nose and look of disdain), "What's that smell?" "It's called CLEAN!!!" I retorted.

Scene change: I stoop to a new low. Son is not attached to the mice, but can't bring himself to give them up. Well. . .everybody has his price. "Son," I say, "I'll give you $20 for the mice." His jaw drops and eyes light up. "Think about it," I say. It didn't take him long.

The next day, I leave a $20 bill on his dresser, load up the mice and head for the open space. I'm thinking, a day in the open space is worth a year in a cage. They'll thank me for this. As I opened the box and shooed them away, they both looked stunned. "Go on," I coaxed. "You're free now!" (Was it my imagination or did I hear the theme song from "Born Free" swelling in the background?) One mouse ran and hid and the other -- we always did wonder if he could see -- did his best Ray Charles imitation and just stayed put. I quickly pushed him under a bush and headed for the car.
So, now we're down to dog, cat, fish and 3 toads. I can live with this. Daughter has lived up to her word and has taken complete responsibility for the toads. As weird as it sounds, I'm actually kind of fond of the Beta, as if you can grow fond of a fish. He requires very little care and interaction. I'm told that goldfish have a 3-second memory. I assume Betas aren't far behind -- everytime he swims around the bowl, he thinks he's somewhere new, so maybe that's why he appears to be so content.

P.S. Did I mention dear Sis-in-law bought Daughter an ant farm for her birthday? The ants arrived yesterday. Our pet population just increased by 50. Sometimes I just Can. Not. Win.


Becky said...

That Beta fish has the key to contentment I think. It is all in your perspective. My students say, "Do we HAVE to ...?" I say, "No, you GET to ..."

Nope. Doesn't work. But then again, I have not tossed them into the water yet. Perhaps a good swim around the pond would do them some good.

Becky said...

Oh, just read your comment to my post on Abby. Thanks for that. I have met more people who have an "Abby" of their own who had to face this hard time with their pet. Thanks for your kindness.

Karen said...

Oh that's too funny!! You really cracked me up with the Born Free theme song!!
Pet purging at its finest!
We had a beta that lived FOREVER! I personally was glad to see him go. I always had to change the water. ick!!!

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to see you in the field with those mice. . . .

Barb said...

Oh, Karen, I'm laughing my head off. Idiot of the year and your friends don't even feel sorry for you. OK, I'll feel sorry for you.

What I really, really regret is that I sent both my nephews in Alaska ant farms for Christmas and I'm betting my sister-in-law feels the same way you do.

You're not an idiot. You're just very, very gullible. LOL

That toad thing? We did that. With a two foot long iguana. Good grief. What was I thinking!

Now that our girls are grown, we're down to just two pets - one shih tzu and one grandbaby. And I like it that way. :-)

Kim said...

I love our Betta fish. He's the easiest pet we have in the litter box, no walks on leashes etc. I feel your pain, Karen!

We did add two snails and a tiny little catfish to the betta's aquarium, but they are low maintainence also.

Have a great week.

Jungle Mom said...

ROFLOL! We have a cat, two dogs, and 6 turtles.

Josi said...

I hated pets until a few years ago, now I have cats, chickens and goats. Love all but one of the cats that I'd love to unload. At four a.m he either whines to get out or whines to get in.

Goats are great thought--except for the poop. Fun blog--reminds me to never take my kids to the pet store...ever.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Wow -- I bet sis-in-law is not your favorite person right now. :)