It was the first thing out of my 8 year-old’s mouth when he came running up the sidewalk from a friend’s house last week.  And, tagging along behind him, was a rangy mutt, all of about fifteen pounds, panting and frothing and desperately trying to keep up. 

What is it with kids and pets?  I should have just named both my boys “Noah” as they need two of every animal they meet.  BK (before kids), we had two adorable pups, a basset hound and a beagle-mutt.  They were our children until the “others” came along.  Unfortunately, they were then relegated to the role of “dog”, but they played their parts well, fixing a spot in my older son’s heart full of their affection and love.  However, they were old, and eventually we found ourselves pet-less (and ready to landscape a back yard!).  This would not do for my older son, and he quickly enlisted the help of his little brother to plead his case.

We started slow with the standard betta-in-a-vase-with-a-plant-on-top set up.  It was good; my son could easily see it and watch it, and maintenance was about as consuming as pruning the bushes outside.  We loved our betta.  We loved it so much that my sister-in-law thought a larger set up was necessary.  So, for Christmas one year, my older son received a ten-gallon tank and a gift certificate for some fishies.  And an addiction was born.

It is important to know (as we found out quickly) that caring for a tropical fish tank isn’t difficult, but it is certainly a bit more involved than our betta outfit.   And when you don’t have the water right, be prepared for several “burials at sea” (or at least a shove in that direction via the commode) and the added expense of finding new finned friends.  However, you don’t have to walk a fish, and you can get those handy weekend feeders for time away from home.  We fell into a fish routine, named them and enjoyed them. 

And then came the land creatures.

For my older son’s birthday this year, he desperately wanted a new pet.  Initially, it was a kitten or a puppy, but we still aren’t at a place where we are ready to take on that responsibility (read: we’re still landscaping the back yard and don’t need any four-legged helpers).  So, he took notes from his pals, perused several pet stores and thankfully did NOT settle his mind on getting a rat or an iguana (not that there’s anything wrong with those.  Okay, there would be something wrong with them if they tried to live at my house, but in general…).  He did, however, beg and plead of a hermit crab.  So, a hermit crab it would be.

We actually got him the Hermit Crab Cove, and he loves it.  Understand, though, that even if they are called “hermit” crabs, they do enjoy the company of other crabs.  So, we got two.  And two extra shells.  And some smelly food.  And special spring water.  Again, the maintenance was a bit more, but hey, they stay in the “cove” unless we take them out, they eat their shedded exoskeletons (my kind of pet!  They clean up after themselves!), and there’s not any real clean up involved.  Score one for us!  But, alas, it wasn’t enough.

We now also have two bettas that my son got from a friend at his birthday party that reside on the shelf above the hermit crabs (we’ll be building the ark next week, I’m sure).  No plant to complete the life cycle this time, so we’re changing out water and feeding them unlike our earlier betta.  And, we got the COOLEST ant farm by Antworks on the market.  It is illuminated gel and totally fascinating.  I never thought I would voluntarily allow ants to live in my house, but here we are, with 23 of those six-legged creatures residing on my kitchen counter.  Yes, the things we do for our children.

We didn’t keep the mutt, by the way, as I recognized him from a neighboring yard, but my son is okay with that.  He has a new friend to visit, and realizes his own pet parade is big enough – for now.