One weak parental unit in the neighborhood caves, allows a pet, and then, all the kids want one. We know how the story goes…
“Dad, can we get a dog?”
“Mrs. Simpson let Lisa have one.”
“Good. Go pet hers!”
“Dad, can I have a pony?”
“Dad, can I have a pet snake. It’s a boa and eats mice.”
Now Mom joined the conversation, “Absolutely not!”
The dialog continued as we explored pet options. My suggestions were not gaining acceptance and my exasperated daughter defined the word pet for me.
- A pet must have fur.
- You have to be able to hold a pet.
- You have to be able to pet it, hence the name, “Pet.”
I relaxed my no pet policy and set up a goldfish pond in the living room. Later, we added tadpoles, but once the legs started to form, Mom insisted we remove the soon-to-be frogs. The goldfish loved World Wide Wrestling and occasionally we would find one ejected from the pond onto the carpet. Fish don’t swim well on carpet.
We tried hermit crabs as pets, but the smell from the cage was overpowering. I don’t know when the little guy gave up the fight, but at least he died with his shell on.
The girls learned negotiating skills. I blame Ross Perot and all those charts he flashed during his presidential run. My children brought their charts to dinner and presented proposals for obtaining pet rabbits. In their estimation, rabbits would be ideal pets and reason #1 was the manure they would contribute to Dad’s garden. The benefit list expanded with each discussion. Rabbits live outside. They don’t bark. They’re adorable. Feeding and care is easy, and Dad would not have to participate.
We visited the North Carolina State Fair’s Rabbit Barn where a litter of tiny Mini Rex rabbits were displayed. They were adorable, and I was out of arguments, so the no pet policy expanded. We traveled miles to that breeder’s farm to purchase 2 of the females, Sweet Thing and Ginger, shown with their caretakers, Amanda and Michelle.
My spare time went to construction of various rabbit houses and pens. We rearranged the living quarters every other weekend it seemed, but as promised, Ginger and Sweet Thing helped with the garden. And I never heard them bark a single time.
The girls decided it was time to earn some cash and found a pet store willing to take baby rabbits in exchange for store credit. I tried to explain that two girl bunnies would not do well in the baby producing plan. I opened my mouth without thinking, and they ladies were ready with yet another proposal. I archived their written presentation and now share it with my readers: Rabbit Proposal. I marvel at their calculations showing how much rabbit contribution I should expect for each year’s garden.
Jack Rabbit moved to the backyard. He was supposed to generate a bunch of little bunnies, some to stay with us and others to become pets in other yards. The breeding program hit a snag. Ginger was a feisty rabbit who beat Jack into submission, then mounted him. That upset the daughters. It was not the process described in the rabbit books. Dinner discussions were lively that week.
Eventually Jack and Sweet Thing connected and produced Thumper and Bambi. Cash flowed out from the grand rabbit experiment, but never returned. Ginger outlived the other rabbits and feeding her became my task after Daughter #2 left for college. Who know a rabbit could live so long?
“The more bunnies, the more manure.” Indeed. Let me hear from you, parents. What promises did your children use to convince you a pet is a good idea?