I am not, by nature, an animal person. This is true even though we always had a dog when I was growing up, and we usually had other pets as well. From time to time we had other pets- goldfish, parakeets, mice, mice, some more mice, and lots of mice (yes, on purpose), a rabbit, neon chicks at Easter, and in college I had a pet rat named Josephine (I had her when I first started dating the HM, too). I loved our dogs. My husband and I had a cat when we first got married (my severe cat allergy showed up about 6 years after marriage). But once I had children, they mostly filled whatever part of me had formerly loved animals.
I love them now in theory. In practice, they shed, they make my hands feel funny when I pet them, and they are too much work and mess. Now, we’ve still always had a dog or three for two reasons- my husband’s own petless childhood, and my belief that kids should have pets. Okay, three reasons. The third is that I am a sucker.
We’ve had some other pets- gerbils, turtles, a ferret (very briefly), rabbits, beta fish, outside cats, goats, a miniature horse, a horse, parakeets. Etc.
I’d had parakeets for a while as a kid, until my baby brother and an accident killed one and a bad birdsitter killed the other while we were on vacation. My dad promised to replace them and then decided they cost to much (7.53 if you must know, and yes, I was bitter). So we got parakeets in order to finally scratch that itch. We had Aquillas and Priscilla for about a year- they were blue and white budgies and so pretty. But somehow, the birds I had as an adult were far, far, messier than the birds I remembered from my youth. We all agreed that birds were messy and far more trouble to take care of then our dogs, and much less fun. We gave them away to another family.
When we moved here, The Equuschick worked at the animal shelter. That brought quite a trail of animals into our lives. She always called and asked first, and I was never able to say no, not even when we had one 55 lb dog and 9 people living in a crackerbox with one bathroom and she wanted to bring home the late and much lamented Zeus the Moose, a 110 lb black lab who filled the living room (I can’t do outside dogs).
Because of my inability to say no, eventually we made a rule that the nobody could ask Mama’s permission for a new pet, ever, anymore, at all, forever.
And life was good.
Then one day The Equuschick called and said, “I am not calling to ask you if we can have a puppy. I am just calling for informative purposes. We have an abandoned puppy here who might grow up to be an Irish Wolfhound and I just thought you would want to know. Keep in mind that I am NOT asking.’ (a more precise telling is here)
And I said, “Pick up puppy food on your way home from the shelter,’ and thus, somehow, Pip became the owner of Donovan, whose Irish Wolfhound status was but a snare and a delusion. Or else one parent was an Irish Wolfhound and the other something like a terrier, because while Donovan’s head is massive and wolfhoundish, his body is the size of a cocker spaniel’s.
And thus also we had another laying down of the law and a new rule. Nobody may even tell Mama about the existence of any animals in need of a home and especially not at the shelter.
And life was good.
And then last year my brother from another state who does not live under our family rules sent me an email that his own realio, trulio, actual Irish Wolfhound was in need of a home (so was his other dog, a hyperactive dog of a smaller and far less sedate breed), and he was just offering, just in case. And so we acquired Ronan.
Only by this time, all the dog-lovers have moved out and I was really in disgrace with all my family at home who have to do all the work with the dog they never wanted so I really don’t blame them, and so we were seriously and we really mean it this time having No. More. Animals. (and the teens keep trying to give Ronan to their married siblings, who would all take him, but their husbands are made of sterner, meaner stuff).
We don’t count the four laying hens in the coop out back or the 49 chicks in the garage.
So here we are. No more animals forever.
“It’s a cockatiel,” my husband said helpfully, when he brought this into the house a few minutes ago.
“Why, yes. Yes, it is,” I agreed.
“It was free,” he said. “They were giving it away. What could I do?”
“Well,” I said. “Clearly, you brought it home.”
“I did,” he nodded. “I can always ask around and find somebody else who wants it,” he added.
“That would probably be good,” I said.
“It was free,” he repeated. “And it’s supposedly a male, but he laid an egg once.”
“That’s quite interesting,” I said. “Perhaps you can hang the cage from the ceiling in the sunroom until you find it a good home.”
“Won’t it be too hot in there during the summer?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I said, “But maybe it won’t be here all summer.”
“I’ll have to look it up online and see what temperatures are best for it,” he said to himself as he carried it out of the room.
I have to admit it takes up far less space than the Irish Wolfhound.