16 April 2009

The story of Pica the Chinchilla

So here's the Pica the Chinchilla story. Emily has always wanted a dog. Always. I'm not a dog person. Not a cat person. Not a pet person. Except for my bird, whom I came to love, but accidentally let fly away. I wish I loved dogs so I could have given one to my daughter. I regret that I didn't get one anyway years ago, because I think it would have been good companionship for her. That's on the one hand. The reality, as everyone tells me, is that kids never take care of pets and that the dog would have been mine. I'm sure that's true, which brings me back to: I don't like dogs. Over the years we've had hamsters. They've never worked out. The cage gets relegated to the dining room table or some other out of the way spot. One we gave to a kindergarten class and it quickly died from the custodial cleaning fumes. Another went to a friend's where it quickly died. Emily thinks the bars of the cage contained lead paint, and that could be true. Another hamster died a natural death but he was never picked up or loved. Then there was the giant goldfish with 9 lives that was hers but really mine because I was the only one that took care of it, and I hated cleaning the tank. Knowing how much Emily wants a dog, I was reluctant to say no when she came to me asking for a chinchilla. She had done all the research. Her father was in favor of it. She would pay for it and her dad and I would split the cost of the cage and supplies. Me, the one who always seems to say no, said yes. That night I came home to find the cage bought and set up next to her bed. Did I mention that 'chins' are nocturnal? I made myself not do any research. That was so hard. The next day at work I couldn't help myself. I watched YouTube videos. Read articles. Knew it was a bad, bad idea. But....I had said yes and I wasn't going back on my word. Emily was so excited when I got home from work on Saturday. She'd printed out all sorts of information on chins. She was waiting to hear back from breeders. I casually asked if she'd watched any YouTube videos. She hadn't, so I suggested we watch them together. We saw them spastically running up and down stairs and around rooms. I asked if she knew they could jump 5 feet. She didn't. That they're not cuddly? No. So she asks me to go to PetSmart and see them. We do. They're very cute. But they have tails that look like squirrels. And oversize ears. And big fat bodies. Faces like hamsters. Still, cute. The PetSmart employee held one for us. We petted it. It seemed nice and cuddly. A family came by that bought theirs a year ago and said they make great pets. Another employee had one too and loves it. Emily really wanted to bring one home. I asked about the return policy and they said 14 days. Emily said if it didn't work out she'd pay us the cost of all the supplies. So I said yes. We took him home. He was so cute. Emily put him in his waiting, fancy, 3-level cage. She couldn't wait for him to climb up to the second level. Before we knew it, he jumped up. Then to the third. Then to ground level. Very cute. So far, so good. In the morning I found Emily sleeping in the guest room. No surprise. Guess Pica stayed up all night. On Sunday I went about making space in the computer/stamping room for Pica's table and cage. I moved boxes of magazines from a shelving unit onto wire shelves in my walk-in closet. It only took two magazine file boxes to cause every plastic bracket attached to the wall to break due to the excess weight. Yes, it caused a huge clean-up job for me. All the stuff on that shelf had been hidden by the shirts hanging above it. It was the land of hidden unused stuff. Candles, books, old cross-stitch, tax returns...you name it. So, I put stuff temporarily away. Then I finished cleaning out the shelving unit from the computer/stamping room and brought it down to the basement and transferred the table with Pica and his cage there. That night Emily asks if we can let Pica run around in my large and clean bathroom. I said sure. He was so cute to watch. Except every minute he left a poop. I'd hand Emily a square of toilet paper, and she'd pick it up and put it in the toilet. Poop, pick up, poop, pick up. Getting the idea? After 15 minutes she was ready to put him back in his cage. Guess what was on the table outside the cage? Poop. On the carpet? Poop. Not messy poop, but poop. So Emily uses the hose on the vacuum cleaner to pick up the random poops. Not what I want my vacuum used for. The next night she asks if we can take him into my bathroom again. I say sure. Same deal. Poop, poop, poop. I pick him up and stroke his head and he likes it. He's soft and cute. When I hand him to Emily I have 3 poops on my lap. Emily doesn't want to hold him. She thinks he's disgusting. I don't say a word. The next day I say something about her taking him when she's out of college. That's when she says, "I'm not keeping him!" He went back on Tuesday. His cage and other stuff are still on Craigslist. So far no takers. Emily doesn't miss him, but I do, a little bit. I might go back to PetSmart to visit. Just to visit.


I am sorry it didn't work out for Emily. I wanted it to. One day she'll have her own dog. And you know what? I'll probably love it.

15 comments:

Lena said...

At least you could bring him back!

You let her try it out so she couldn't be mad at your for saying NO. And she was the one that realized she didn't want him, so you were not blamed.

Dogs are a lot of work and yes most kids never follow through.

Kathy said...

But they poop, too!
It's hard to believe you're not an animal person. I wonder what makes us an animal person or not? I do believe, though, you'd be really skeeved out in our family!! :)

fiwa said...

Thank god they had a 14 day return policy, huh?! Since it wasn't happening to me - I got a good laugh out of it. You are a good mom to try out this compromise with her.

Chi Leong said...

Haha. Yeah, poop sure is a problem. Pets are good preparation for having a family though cause guess what? Babies poop too. Emily should get a dog or some other cute poop machine....consider it training for the future. :)

Mary said...

I'm way behind on reading but I haven't forgotten my blog friends.

I enjoyed the story of Pica. I don't like the little squirrel/mouse/varmit looking pets at all. I know some do and that's fine. I didn't want the cat that has become part of our family either. Pets are good for our kids but we end up taking care of them and sometimes, like our cat, they become part of the family. At least the cat poops in the litterbox and Harry takes care of it.

I enjoyed the pictures of your family. These times become treasures and all too soon become memories.

Brad said...

Great story. And I think it worked out perfectly. Your still the hero Mom cuz you never said no and Emily's had the experience of taking care of a pet. Hopefully she'll remember it when she thinks about getting a dog.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

You handled it really well, I think. I'm glad she made up her mind within the return period.

ellesu said...

Oh. I'm sorry it didn't work out for her, too.

I had to laugh as I read Emily's and Pica's story because it was ao similar to my daughter and her chinchilla's story. Funny how that works, huh? :)

Your Emily will probably indeed have her own dog one day. My daughter and her roomies just today adopted their 7th cat. !! That's in addition to the two dogs. I told them the neighbors were going to call the authorities. That probably wasn't the best thing to say. The new kitten has one blue eye and one yellow eye.

Dear Liza said...

You are such a good mom. Seriously. And, you know - I think you ARE a pet person. Just sayin'.

Hugs, friend. :)

Summer said...

Good Mommy. Good lesson.

Joyce said...

Great story- I am with you I am not a pet person , I did love my cat and bird. But not more than my Paul , I think if you didn't have your baby,lady, girl you would find something to love and take care of, we are caretakers from birth.

marykay said...

I love it! I think you are a pet person, just need to find the right pet.

CRUSTYBEEF said...

you never know,..maybe Em will have the same feelings that you do with dogs and so forth..especially when she has kids some day.

thank you for the story...it's a good thing because the little musketeers here are always: "I want a snake, I want a lizard, I want a rabbit, I want a.."

"I WANT A VACATION!"

This was a great story and I truly think it should be published!!!

Grace said...

The thing about dogs is that they poop huge, but other than that they're good pets to have. I remembered the first time I had a dog, since I still don't know much about dogs and my stomach is still weak at that time, whenever it poops, I vomit, and that makes it two messes in one go. But thankfully, I know of a Portland carpet cleaners to clean it up for me.

Many years of owning a dog, strengthening of my stomach, and the help of the Portland carpet cleaning service, I never had any problems related to that again.

kimberly said...

Next time you get a chinchilla go to a breeder not PetSmart. i got two Chinchilla's from there they both passed away in 6 months because of something they were born with. 1,5000 on medical bills to get them back to health and it never worked.

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