Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heavy Petting

It appears that having fish as a pet is no longer interesting for my kids. You'd think that having fish called Tiger barbs, Gouramis, and Clown Loaches would be enough for a kid.
It's obviously not as we've been getting the full-court press from the kids to get a more interesting pet.

We've decided to take the "used car purchasing" policy with the kids. The more they ask for, the more we retreat in our compromises.

As a family outing, we decided to hit the local pet store for a little hands-on experience. Now, this is not your normal Petco or Petsmart. This is a local joint which carries everything from tarantulas to chinchillas. They even have an outdoor petting zoo with all sorts of interesting animals. The kids ran directly past all the "potential pet choices," and went straight to see the Ostriches, pot-bellied pigs, and the Yak.

As I stared at a Yak, and wondered if this was the only one in Idaho, I came to the conclusion that hundreds of years ago, the original name for this hairy cow was probably Yuck. (Mainly due to its smell and 11 pounds of crusted feces hanging off the butt-shag) Tibetan monks must have felt bad for the animal, and changed it. Or perhaps they thought that it would be guessed easier on Wheel of Fortune with an A instead of a U.

After corralling the kids back into the pet store, they headed straight for the puppies. I looked at all the dogs, and noticed that they only carried puppies. Why? Because they are all cute, including the Beagle/Collie/Carp mix on the bottom row. This is an ingenious sales technique. Let me give a real-world example.

You are at the club with some friends cruising for a hook-up. After a few of your favorite beverages, you're feeling mighty fine, and decide to hit the dance floor. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails starts pumping through the speakers, and you go on the prowl. In a dark corner, an available female is giving you "lusty eyes." She passes your hottie test, and you both dance the night away, and continue the party at your apartment.

You wake up the next morning to find a complete stranger in your bed. What was a complete hottie at the club, now resembles Mindy Cohn, but with the complexion of Gregg Popovich.

Rather than toss her to the curb, you feel like you have something invested, so you call her back, and a relationship starts. It's not the best relationship, but it's better than nothing, and you like the companionship. She is a complete pig, and leaves hair on the bar of soap. You fight a lot, but enjoy the bowling league you both participate in. Over time, you grow fond of her, but a painful breakup inevitably occurs. Amazingly, you realize how much happier you are without her in your life, and vow never to meet a woman in the club again. **

How did this start? All on the sales room floor my friend.
Alcoholic beverages, dark dance floor, mood music, and strobe lights. (On a separate topic, it is my belief that strobe lights make everything you do look 73% better. Dancing, fighting, washing dishes, etc)

The same thing occurs in the pet store. Cute little puppies give you "lonely eyes" while some Sarah McLaughlin music pipes on the overhead. Your kids instantly pick out their favorite and you have no choice but to buy the dog for 200 bucks, and head home. 3 weeks later, your entire house smells like urine, you no longer own a complete set of slippers, and your budget for lint rollers increased 800%.
Oh, you may grow fond of the dog over time, and actually like its company. Some say that their dogs are like their children. True, that they both ruin all your possessions, pee and throw up at will, but dogs will never give you grandchildren. Remember this.

Unfortunately for the Boxer pups, and to the dismay of my children, I herded the family over to the "lower maintenance" pets. After deciding that they had no interest in a spider, hermit crab or more fish, we decided that a rodent would probably be the best starting point.

Unfortunately for me, this whole section smelled like Matthew McConaughey's armpits. I was amazed at how much stink a hamster or guinea pig could generate. After talking to the salesman, he assured me that a gerbil urinates far less than the other rodents, and smells less.

Did you know that a gerbil looks exactly like a mouse? In fact, I wonder if they really are mice, but they just renamed them so people wouldn't freak out at owning a mouse.
I'm not fooled. Just because they switched out Dick York with Dick Sargent on Bewitched doesn't mean that anybody was fooled.

Mouse or gerbil?? Who knows? Just keep Richard Gere away.

Alas, it appears that some sort of rodent will be living free in our home after escaping from its cage. I'm laying out the mouse gerbil-traps already.

**By the way, the exact same thing happened to the girl. She didn't realize that you looked like Andy Richter, only softer, and you also brush your teeth only once a day.


Jessica said...

After years of experience with nearly all forms of animals I have to say that rodent probably was the best choice for your situation. But I would definitely have to disagree with your local pet shop helper that recommended the gerbil over all of the others. They do stink just as bad and unless held hours a day they will become rather vicious and have a tendency to bite like crazy.
I had rats for years, they are so much smarter than all of the other rodents, have a definite personality, they smell less than any of the other rodents I owned and were over all my definite favorites. And they even come in a hairless option! I loved my hairless rat. So if your new gerbil has an "accident" and does parish in a short time like most small animals like that, thinking of a rat next might help ;)
I would recommend a reptile but they usually require far too much upkeep for any person that isn't super committed to their care.

Alex L said...

You could get a cat to eat the gerbil/mouse/strange rodent creature.

I had guinea pigs as a kid, we could keep them outside all year because of the climate though.

Stephanie B said...

I've got to second Jessica. We had some long tailed gerbils that eventually escaped, but the peed/pooped at will. Escaping into a house full of cats probably wasn't too bright, either.

We still have cats, but have two rats as well. They are much smarter and friendlier. If you're going to go rodent, a rat's a best bet (though we have a pair).

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about rodents (though I'd love to have some rats someday) but I know a lot about dogs. If you do buy a dog, please please PLEASE do not buy a puppy from a pet store. Those puppies are puppy mill puppies (99% chance) and come from horrible situations where the dogs are kept in small cages and only bred... they receive no love or companionship and have horrible lives. Plus, these puppies will probably develop many physical and emotional problems that can be too much for even an experienced dog handler to handle.

If you are going to get a dog, look into rescue, do heavy research about puppy mills, and if you must have a puppy from a breeder, there's a TON of information out there on the web about how to pick the right breeder.

Candice said...


My daughter wanted a turtle, but I told her that we have a dog, two cats and some fish. Something was going to have to croak before she got a turtle. Even if something DID croak, it still wasn't a given.

So what did she do? Began starving her fish. What she didn't realize was that she had the Tupac Shakur of fish, in that those fuckers wouldn't die. Well, that's not true. They eventually did after being starved for about a year, but she still didn't get her turtle.

I heard that they stink to high hell. No chance.

I'm sticking to my guns.

Matt said...

Jessica/Stephanie--My brother had rats growing up. They always seemed to grow a second head and die of cancer within the first year. That being said, I always liked them.
My wife will have NOTHING to do with a rat in the house. No dice.

Alex--I could keep the things outside...and then they would only have an 8 month life expectancy.

Collie--There is little to no chance we will get a dog. It would have to come pinned to check for 10 thousand dollars.
I should have made my hatred for owning a dog more apparent in my post. My TIC is too strong at times.

Candice--Is your last name Dahmer? Totally raising a serial killer...awesome.
The turtle section was #2 on the stink list in the pet store...right after the rodent section...yuck.

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