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“Daddy, can we get a zebra?”

August 28, 2012 by Mark McGlothlen 

Like most children, our daughters are always asking if we can have more pets. We currently have two cats, Dreyfus and Calum. Dreyfus is the old man of the two as he just had his 15th birthday and Calum is right behind him at 13. Although my wife loves our cats — she picked them out — her biggest fear is that they will live forever.

Let me put that comment into a little more context. My wife grew up in a dog family whereas I always had a cat. We had dogs, but for the majority of my childhood, we had cats. She would love to have a dog again, and while I am not against it in the future, I would rather wait until our cats have found their way to “kitty heaven.” I would also like to wait until we move because that would be one less hassle when showing the house.

A few years ago, when my oldest daughter was four, she started asking about getting a new pet. I was blunt and said that we would not be getting any new animals until the cats have died. She surprised me with her next question.

“Daddy, when the cats die, can we get a zebra?”

I of course, was floored by her question and politely told her that we cannot have a zebra as a pet. Of course she asked why, so I did my best to explain why a zebra would not be a good pet for a family such as ours. Whatever I said must have worked because she no longer wanted a zebra.

Time went on and every once in a while the “getting a new pet” conversation came up. We kept putting it off, but the time had come for us to take action.

After a little back and forth, my wife and I came to a compromise. The finalists in the “New McGlothlen Pet” sweepstakes were hamsters, gerbils or fish. Because both of our daughters loved looking at the fish when we go to Meijer or the pet store, they are relatively easy to care for and both my wife and I had fish as children, we figured why not.

One day with our youngest at daycare, we took Hannah out to lunch and she asked to go to the pet store. While there, she asked if she finally could get her fish. We agreed, so the hunt was on to find the perfect one to join our family.

In addition to picking out a tank, rocks, and the other goodies, Hannah found her fish. Selecting a pink Danio, Hannah named her new pet “Pinkalicious.”

Once the tank was assembled, Pinkalicious was swimming in her new tank, awaiting her roommate, who would come later when our youngest picked out her fish.

Much to our surprise, Pinkalicious was found floating upside-down just 30 minutes later. Initially Hannah was sad to lose her new pet so soon, but recovered nicely when she found that she would be able to get a new fish when Alexis got hers.

As we said our goodbyes to the fish, Hannah quipped, “Pinkalicious is deadalicious.” I had to laugh because she was taking it so well. I also hoped that it was just a fluke that this fish passed away so soon.

Later that afternoon two new fish were swimming in the tank. Hannah’s new fish, “Angel,” was joined by Alexis’ fish “Cuckoo.” Life was good, the girls were happy and loved showing their fish off to anyone who came over.

Within a matter of days, both fish were history. Our water was fine, we followed all the directions that came with the tank as well as the “pet store professionals,” and we were still unsuccessful with the fish. Once again, the girls took it well. For now, I think we will stick to cats. However that zebra is sounding intriguing right about now.

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