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The great pet debate

By Amy SpitzleyI've never been a huge animal person. I can trace it back to accidentally sitting on my great-aunt's obnoxious cat, Peanut, a fat orange thing with a bad attitude. True, I should have looked where I was sitting, but I was just a kid. It didn't have to bite me.
Things didn't improve from there. My home, growing up, saw one pet debacle after another.

My brother gathered a pail of toads, only to leave them out in the rain, where they drowned. The metal pail of crickets left in the sun didn't fare too well, either, and then there was the chameleon he forgot to feed. Not good.

My own beloved guinea pig left a surprise for me in her cage one day — another guinea pig! I hadn't known I was getting two for the price of one when I bought her. The new arrival, Twerpie, lived a normal rodent life until I picked him up one day and found him rather cold and stiff. I jumped and dropped him, and he clunked on the bottom of his cage.
Now guinea pigs by nature aren't the quietest things, but they're not supposed to clunk. Twerpie, like all our other pets, had gone the way of the dodo.

These are stories my own children know well. Cautionary tales, of a sort. But they haven't heeded my warnings. They still want a pet. And finally, after many rounds of pleading, I did something I may have cause to regret — I Promised.

After three years in a two-bedroom apartment, I promised a pet when we got a house again. Not just any pet, though.

No creepy fish or freaky snakes or icky spiders. Lizards with their tongue thing? No way. Dogs and cats make my allergies go haywire.

I told you I wasn't an animal person. People like me get a bad rap sometimes, but seriously. Why would I want something in my house that slithers and slides, creeps and crawls, or yowls and howls and pees everywhere? Sounds like a toddler to me, and I've sworn off those, too. Been there, done that, got two souvenirs.

So I promised the most low-maintenance-yet-cuddly thing I could think of — a rabbit. They're nice and quiet. They can eat my leftover lettuce. They can live outside in the summer and in the garage in the winter. They're more durable than a hamster or gerbil, and not as… rodentlike.

I fully admit I don't know what I'm getting into. Given my family track record, it wouldn't surprise me if we went through a few trial rabbits before finding one that survives.

Blunt, yes, but I'm trying to be practical about this. We've been in our new house for two months, and it's only a matter of time before my kids remember The Promise. I need to be prepared. I need to research, learn the difference between bunnies and rabbits, find out if alfalfa is all it's cracked up to be. And maybe, just maybe, there won't be any frying or drowning or clunking this time around.

I've got my fingers crossed…

  • kathiespitzley

    Amy,
    I loved it and remember most of it. Great job!
    MOM

  • Anonymous

    Amy,
    I loved it and remember most of it. Great job!
    MOM

  • ewparker

    Great article Amy – I can relate! I vividly recall the day our new kitten was playing out by the curb when the garbage truck came. You guessed it – smushed kitten. Or the time my Mom put my gerbil family's cage (ma, pa and 3 babies) out on the back deck because, she said later, they needed a little “fresh air.” It's amazing what 2 or 3 hours in the sun does to gerbils (anyone for some gerbil-jerky?).
    Keep up the good work…

  • Anonymous

    Great article Amy – I can relate! I vividly recall the day our new kitten was playing out by the curb when the garbage truck came. You guessed it – smushed kitten. Or the time my Mom put my gerbil family’s cage (ma, pa and 3 babies) out on the back deck because, she said later, they needed a little “fresh air.” It’s amazing what 2 or 3 hours in the sun does to gerbils (anyone for some gerbil-jerky?).
    Keep up the good work…

  • http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ Sherry Sutherby

    With all the books and reference articles available, the learning curve for keeping pets safe and happy should be a pretty straight line. No need for “trial rabbits”. Check out your local library. And remember, don't ever place a male rabbit into a cage with a female. Deadly mistake. So much to learn ~ enjoy the journey ~ and you'll have safe, long-living rabbits, and teach your children responsibility in the process.

  • http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ Sherry Sutherby

    With all the books and reference articles available, the learning curve for keeping pets safe and happy should be a pretty straight line. No need for “trial rabbits”. Check out your local library. And remember, don’t ever place a male rabbit into a cage with a female. Deadly mistake. So much to learn ~ enjoy the journey ~ and you’ll have safe, long-living rabbits, and teach your children responsibility in the process.

  • amyspitz

    No worries, Sherry–I'll do my rsearch. I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek about the trial rabbits. (hee-hee)
    And ewparker, you've completely got me beat, man! Smushed kitten and gerbil jerky…hoo boy.

  • Anonymous

    No worries, Sherry–I’ll do my research. I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek about the trial rabbits. (hee-hee)
    And ewparker, you’ve completely got me beat, man! Smushed kitten and gerbil jerky…hoo boy.

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