Carping about pets

My family lives in a townhouse complex, an access restricted estate that features apartments built one upon the other, one downstairs unit and one upstairs.

On of the rules is that we are prevented from having pets that might bother the neighbours or upset the local wildlife.

So no cats, dogs or bears, lions or monkeys.

Althought this has put a bit of a dent in my plans for a travelling circus I bow before the wishes of the collective.

I do believe that having pets instills a sense of responsibility in children, so in the absence of opportunity for labrador retrievers I’ve purchased for my daughter a set of Goldfish.

Now although these small barrells of fun might not have the ability to fetch, roll over or retrieve the evening newspapers (I tried, their jaws are just not powerful enough) they can focus the mind in that they require regular feeding, cleaning and entertainment. Although, it must be said that on the entertainment side,  a small plastic pirate ship, rather than a game of fetch seem to be all they require. At least it seems that way, their faces are difficult to read but they seem happy enough.

At least they do until they die.

And for my next trick I’m going to float belly up at the top of the tank

Now I’m not qualified to comment on Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest but as a layman it seems to me that a species that goes belly up at when you so much as put a smidgeon too much food in their tank  (or give an enquiring look, or a short rainshower, or turning on a light) should not be part of this rich tapestry of life on this blue and bountiful planet.

Surely Goldfish as a species should have been relegated to the history books by now.

I mean come on, worldwide there can only be approximately 500 living Goldfish in existence at any one time. These are animals that are known for one characteristic, the ability to float to the top of a tank at the drop of a hat. There are probably Goldfish that have died because someone dropped a hat within 15 metres of their tank.

So… The question begs;  why on Earth do I keep refilling a tank with variations on the same theme? Big Eyes, Comets, Variagated Retarded Orange Bullets, Small Muddy Rainbow Pillow Fusspots, Golden Floaters and Mild Weather Compounded Fin Lickers (I might have confused some of the names , with a wildlife turnover like this it’s hard to keep track).

The answer (I think) is simple. When your daughter runs toward you wailing “Why does the fish have to die this time?” You can only have one response, “This is the way the natural world operates, some animals can’t take the rough and tumble world of the tank, some are just called away to the great bowl in the sky, where they swim around and take joy in remarking to their finny friends every 3 minutes ‘Oh look, a castle’.”

I lie.

What actually happens is that you rouse yourself, get a salad bowl and remove the poor, side swimming, floatie beastie to a more secure environment and hope to God that its either dead or recovered by the next morning. And promise your tear soaked little one that, yes,  she can intern Fast Fish (in retrospect that might have been a bad choice of name)  in the garden.

But here’s the thing, the original of the two fish;  Clam,  is still going strong. He (or she, I can see no distinguishing characteristics), has outlived three companions. The problem might not be a six year old provider, the problem might just be that Clam is a territorial, murderous bastard (or bitch, as the case may be).

So here I am. Tomorrow morning off to the pet store to replace Clam’s companion.

After the disasterous hamster appocalypse a fish seemed the right thing to do. I don’t know, perhaps we’ll try birds next, but given the track record at Mallach World Headquarters a parrot would just run riot and infect the entire neighbourhood with Avian Flu.

Yours in hope, until next time.

If I have a case of the sniffles, be patient.


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