Imagine my surprise to wake up to hundreds of notifications about a blog post I made days before, thinking that no one else would ever read it. Not only was I shocked that anyone had bothered to read it, I was floored by the amazing comments left on the post.
A trend I noticed when reading through the comments (for which I’m extremely grateful for!) was a sense of camaraderie between other sympathetic people and myself. We all seem to be aware that not everyone loves every living creature as much as we do, which I believe is fine. I can’t judge anyone on anything. That’s not to say the majority of people have no regard for life, just that they probably wouldn’t cry after stepping on a snail but would most definitely mourn a treasured pet.
So, if you read my Sid/Alex post and felt a kindred spirit in me, you are my people and I am so glad to have met you.
I also feel I should expound on just how amazing Sid, Alex and all their other brothers and sisters were. Each of those fish lived their lives very loved, despite my not knowing how to properly care for them. I went into the position of goldfish minder knowing that most of their lives would be short. I will admit that. That knowledge did lessen the blow of being faced with yet another tiny little life lost every morning, but I did feel like a failure. It also made me feel terrible for the other 80% of the fish in that crowded tank at the pet store, destined for the same sucked-against-a-grate fate.
During their first summer, we had a very intense heatwave. The temperature inside my house reached the 40s (the 100s for all my American friends). I stared at the little floating thermometer I’d bought every few minutes, as it had a “happy zone” with a “sad zone” on either side of it. It began to teeter into the sad zone, and I panicked. I replaced a bit of their water with slightly cooler water, but it warmed up so quickly. So, being a silly kid, I came up with an extremely harebrained plan. I decided to put popsicles in their tank. Looking back, that probably wasn’t the best plan of action, but I felt like a genius at the time. I would check on the popsicles after a while and when they were thawed out, I’d replace them with frozen ones and put the thawed ones back in the freezer. In case you were wondering, I did indeed have designated fish popsicles.
There’s a sentence I’m sure you’ve never read.
That’s obviously a tale I haven’t shared with anyone, but I feel like I can tell you all.
I’ve doubted my sanity when it comes to my love for animals, and I’m sure my family has too. If you all sympathize with my experience with Sid and Alex, I have got some doozies for you. Some quick examples, rated on a scale from Completely Acceptable Human Behavior to What the Hell is Wrong with this Girl:
- The aforementioned cringe when my dad made fresh crabs, usually cracking them in half (I believe as to spare them the pain of being boiled alive). I think a lot of people would feel somewhat bad for having to deliver the fatal blow to their dinner, but as someone especially sensitive, it had a pretty intense effect on me just to watch.
- The had I had when I lived in Vancouver was a serious street cat. He lived strictly outdoors for years before we took him in. As if to show his appreciation (not really, probably, but I like to think so) he was very good at bringing us half alive presents. One night he caught a tiny little mouse, and my boyfriend, being extremely squeamish about animals, insisted I take the mouse from the cat and “get rid of it”. I asked how the hell he wanted me to do it, and his suggestion was to take it into a safe yard a few houses down. Now, I was pretty intoxicated at the time, so I just picked the poor thing up, cradled it in my hands and walked it down the alley and into a neighbors yard. It was raining, fittingly. Water beat down on him, robbing him of any comfort and warmth as he died in my hands. But at least he didn’t die alone.
- Another rodent story, unfortunately. A rat made its way in through our cat door a couple weeks ago. It settled in under our fridge for a few nights until my father decided to get a rat trap. I suggested trapping and releasing it, but he was sure it would just come back. This isn’t my house, so I only have so much say in what he does. I did make my discomfort clear. Somehow, that rat managed to get the little nugget of Kraft Single cheese out of the trap the first night without the trap going off. That lead me to believe he was either extremely smart, or extremely lucky. His luck ran out the next night, however. My father accidentally engaged the trap as he was trying to load it and it was violent. I wish I hadn’t seen how they work. I won’t even explain it. I was laying in bed that night, unable to sleep, when I heard the snap, followed by a split second of scuttling, then silence. I had to walk into the kitchen to refill my daughter’s milk shortly after and I was T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D. I did my best not to look down, but I had to make sure I didn’t step on him. Awful.
- Once, I was at the beach with my boyfriend at the time. We sat down on a bench, out of the sun, and a crow flew down from the tree that was shading us and he had something in his mouth. Now, crows are notoriously crafty. This crow was especially ingenious. In his little beak was a large clam. He was obviously having trouble opening it. He stared at us for a long time, picking the clam up and dropping it a few times. I knew he wanted me to open it for him, which opened up a very difficult decision to be made. Do I kill the clam to feed the crow? In the long run, the crow would get it open some how, such as the food chain is. I began to wonder if he was starving. How long had he been dropping that clam from great heights? And more importantly, how long has that poor clam been tortured, knowing his death was imminent? I tried to walk away, hoping he’d move on and task someone else with that uncomfortable decision, but as I left the park, he flew close and dropped it in front of me. It was as if he could sense my inner turmoil. He could feel my conflict, and the bugger knew just how to coerce me. I stared at the clam and saw that it was already broken, and likely already dead. So I stepped on the thing, partly to ensure its demise, and partly to feed that damn crow. But I still think of that often, wondering if I made the right decision.
That’s all I have time for tonight, and perhaps I’ll spare you all any more “cheerful” animal experiences I’ve had.
I will say, these stories are outnumbered by the amount of truly amazing memories I’ve had with all animals I’ve come across. There isn’t enough time to talk about the every day joy my two cats bring me, nor the other 3 I’ve had the privilege of caring for, as well has Sid, Alex and the 8 other nameless fish.
The bad memories do tend to stick out, but the good ones keep us going.