Can We Have a Pet?

It’s the inevitable question, and one I was adamantly against until recently.

I had pets growing up, but I never wanted one as an adult, and once I had kids, I had all the wild animals I could handle. Of course my kids asked, but I always skirted the issue. I simply couldn’t clean up after one more member of this family.

I always thought my husband would crack way before I did. He had his beloved dog, Ginger, growing up, and he also took care of a neighbor’s bunnies for a little pocket change. He’s also a nature and animal lover who claims to have established close personal relationships with neighborhood squirrels, who would stare longingly through the patio doors of my husband’s childhood home, waiting for Kevin to come out and play.

So I was surprised when I was the one to cave two summers ago. I can’t even call it caving. I actually wanted to get the kids a pet. We were on vacation down the shore (and, yes, it is “down the shore”), and I wanted to get my kids hermit crabs. Okay, I know hermit crabs don’t count as pets in some circles, but for me this was a big step.

Kevin, though, was not having it. I had to work on him the entire week at the beach.

“I’m not getting any two-bit, disease-ridden, boardwalk hermit crab,” He said. But I said, “We’re not getting them from the boardwalk. We’re getting them from Salty’s Ice Cream Parlor/Restaurant/Gift Shop. It has the most extensive hermit crab collection in the Northeast.” Kevin was unmoved.

On the last day of our trip, just before we were about to head home not to return to the sea for another year I said, “Would you let them get a God damn, hermit crab already?”

And that is how we became pet owners. I still can’t believe I was the one to lobby for a pet, and now I find myself once again in similar circumstances.

My daughter keeps asking for a little, cageable pet. She doesn’t want much, just something with some fur on it, and my son – I knew he had to have a pet as soon as I saw the way he bonded with that personality-less, comatose hermit crab. He loves that hermit crab like no hermit crab has ever been loved before. And it’s hard to love a hermit crab.

I feel like they deserve a pet, and I think it would be good for them to learn to care for and look after a little fur-ball. And then, today, my friend sent out an email blast that her guinea pig had died unexpectedly and she was giving away the cage and all the accoutrements FREE. Even if you get an animal for free like we did with our former pet fish by winning it at the boardwalk, do you know how much the paraphernalia can set you back? Our free fish cost us $50 at the pet store because we had to get him the best darn tank money could buy. Plus, I didn’t want him to be bored in there so we got him a little fake plant and a sunken treasure chest.

When I heard free guinea pig cage and sleeping hut and water bottle and wood shavings and food, I said to myself I think it’s time we got ourselves a guinea pig.

Now, if I could only convince my husband.

(Photo: Flikr/

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  1. This is very timely since we just bought a fishtank last night. And we did it also b/c we finally relented to get my son a goldfish. Who knew that a goldfish needs a much larger space than a glass bowl (like they show in all the cartoons we saw growing up)? And costs so freakin’ much. And needs its tank cleaned once a week. All for a $5 fish. Yeesh. The kid’s very excited though. And I’m hoping it will teach him some responsibility as well.

  2. They do deserve it for taking care of that spiky hermit crab for this long. I mean, how long do hermit crabs usually even live? Isn’t yours like 12,000 in people years? (I guess I don’t actually know when you bought it).

    Anyway, I feel bad because my kids (like the gender static little people we did not raise them to be) want a dog (the boy) and a weensy wittle kitty cat (you guess) but I’m allergic to all things with fur.

    Maybe we should try a hermit crab.

  3. My kids are not getting a pet. My husband is allergic to cats and I don’t want the responsibility of a dog. In fact, I don’t want the added responsibilty of any living creature. It’s why my family is “Two and through.” No more living things under my roof.

  4. Georgette seems to have forgotten that I’m moving in with her…

    I always grew up with animals in the home (stepmother, a couple of dogs and some birds). I have a cat now, and he’s the best. I see him less as a pet and more of a roommate who doesn’t contribute anything but hairballs and cuddles – which is all I can ask for, really.

  5. Stacey, what is that cute animal in the photo? We too acquired a goldfish through my son’s Hebrew school teacher (what was she thinking?!). All went well for six days until I found myself Googling “goldfish constipation” today. We are also dogsitting for a friend for two weeks (and me, allergic to dander and all). I do like the look of this fuzzy critter though!
    Oh, and the answer to the goldfish question was – give it some salad too 🙂

  6. Oh Bernadette, don’t tell me you don’t know an adorable guinea pig when you see one! They are sweet and easy to care for.

    This cutie looks a little like Gizmo!

  7. I looked a guinea pig in the eye once, and it looked right back at me as if to say, “I will bury you.” It really creeped me out. Now I can’t look at one without thinking it’s just a rat with a glam hairdo.

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