We have a pet fish, but Abby, Brian and Timmy are really hoping for a furry pet. We’ve explained Daddy’s allergies to the kids, and we all agree we’d rather have Daddy living with us than a pet.
Like many households, we have a pet. Specifically, we have a fish, which arrived with much heraldry a couple of Christmases ago. Then 5-year-old Abby gave him the dignified name of Splash Nemo Fay, and assumed joint responsibility, with Earl, for his care.
Splash is thriving, and performs his dual roles of looking beautiful and lending an ear to Abby’s innermost thoughts as only a happy little betta fish can. But as generations of kids have done before them, Abby, Brian and Timmy are really hoping for a furry pet. A cat would do, but they really want a dog. Abby, especially, would like a big dog. She’s been slightly obsessed ever since she read about Balto, the hero sled dog that helped bring diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska, in a blizzard in 1925.
In honor of Balto, Abby wants a husky, although she would settle for a German shepherd or a golden retriever. Lately, she’s even been dropping hints about smaller breeds. She knows my family had a Chihuahua when I was a kid, and she is forever asking me, “Did you love Pepe? Do you wish you had a Chihuahua? What about a dachshund? Or a Pomeranian?”
Hero sled dogs are inspiring, and Pepe was truly a prince among Chihuahuas, but Earl is allergic to animals, so we won’t be getting a furry friend any time soon. No Fido or Fluffy for us.
We’ve explained Daddy’s allergies to the kids, and we all agree we’d rather have Daddy living with us than a pet. The kids were disappointed for a while, and then our little problem solvers came up with a solution that worked for everyone.
Recently, I overheard a conversation among them, which went something like this:
“Sparky needs a walk.”
“Do you think he’ll chase Lola? Should you put him on the leash?”
“Spaghetti will definitely chase Lola. I’d better put him in his crate.”
“Hold on, kids,” I interjected. “Who’s Spaghetti?”
“My dog,” said Brian.
“OK,” I played along. “Who’s Lola?”
“My cat,” said Abby. “And Philippe and François are my huskies.”
Philippe, François and Lola. Rather sophisticated names for imaginary pets, I thought. They must be Québécois huskies.
“Hey, Mommy, I want to tell you about my pets,” Timmy said.
“OK,” I replied.
“My dogs are Sporty, Pepetti, Bowzer and Cheez-its.”
I stifled a giggle. “Cheez-its?”
“Yeah, because he loves Cheez-its,” Timmy explained.
“Where are they?” I asked.
“Right here,” Timmy said.
They were very well-behaved pets. I didn’t hear a thing. I didn’t see any fur, either.
“You know what, Mommy?” asked Brian.
“My dog Spaghetti has a special power. He can see all the way to the other side of the world.”
“Wow,” I said, impressed.
Brian thought a moment. Then: “Yeah. He has a really long neck.”
I imagined Spaghetti as a Brontosaurus-retriever mix, head extending across the Atlantic to see German shepherds in their native habitat, and chuckled to myself.
“Well, kids,” I said, “take good care of your pets. Remember to feed them, and walk them, and make sure they don’t dig holes in the yard.”
“Yeah, and one more thing,” Brian said. “Don’t tell Daddy. We don’t want him to start sneezing.”
Patriot Ledger contributor Julie Fay can be reached at email@example.com.