The First Pet

Recently, Smartypants and I randomly got on the topic of having a pet.  We used to have a dog before the kids.  She was a quirky but wonderful mixed lab, but getting on in age.  Her hip caused her great pain and she could barely go for much of a walk anymore.  We eventually made the hard decision of bringing her to the shelter and putting her to sleep.

Smartypant’s eyes were red with tears that day.  Funny thing, I don’t recall him shedding nary a tear on our wedding day.

So now we have kids, but no pets.  Thankfully, they haven’t asked for a pet.  Probably because they don’t realize it’s a possibility. Nevertheless, I do wonder if we should get a pet one day.   I loved growing up with two dogs.  But then again, my parents did all the poop-scooping.

I can’t deal with any more poop right now.  There are enough poop fiascos as it is with two toddlers.  While reading the book Everyone Poops to my kids, I am reminded that, indeed, “All animals eat, so everyone poops.”

Smartypants and I have gone down the list of possible pet animals.

Dogs…. my favorite kind of pet, but too much work.

Cats…. I’m allergic.

Mice…. I don’t like mice.

Hamsters or Guinea Pigs….  they can bite.

Rabbits…. they chew on stuff and they’re a bit stinky.

Birds…. too loud.

Snakes…. definitely not.

Lizards…. definitely not.

Turtles…. not much movement, and I don’t like that they carry Salmonella.

Frogs…. I don’t like that they leap, and they also carry Salmonella.

Pigs…. too heavy.

Goats…. we don’t have grass.

Fish….  don’t want to deal with an aquarium.

Meerkats….  tunnels would destroy my backyard.

Llamas…. too big, and they need the company of other llamas.

Dinosaurs (my son’s favorite animal lately)…. can’t find one.

In addition to the above is the overarching truth that any animal would be yet another source of poop to clean.  The conclusion of our discussion:  I am and will be the main deterrent to our family getting a pet.

How ironic, then, that I ended up getting a pet for my kids after all.  Two of them, in fact.

Meet Eenie and Meenie.

They are tobacco hornworms, discovered on my bell pepper plants in the backyard one sunny day.  Plopped into the biggest jar we could find and covered with some leftover window screen that Smartypants dug up from the garage.

They have ravenous appetites.  This jar was full of leaves in the morning.  Once I returned at the end of the day, only two bare stems were left.  Obviously all those leaves have been compacted into all those little pellets at the bottom of the jar.

Eenie and Meenie indeed poop, but caterpillar poop is very small, dry, and without odor.  And they only need to eat leaves.  And they grow really fast, so the kids are amazed by the daily changes they witness.  In less than a week, I think they have tripled in size.

So I’ve found the perfect pet for us after all.  Caterpillars.  At least for now.  I still hope that we can have something more cuddly one day.  For now, I’m happy with caterpillars.

How did you decide on a pet?

Have you found ways that help teach children responsibility with caring for a pet?


5 thoughts on “The First Pet

    • Thanks Rayya! I’m hoping the kids enjoy it, although I’m getting very fearful by the day of how big these moths actually end up being. I don’t know how long to continue with this! It is really great though to watch kids learn about animals and develop a love for animals.

  1. Along the same idea … Silk Worms! They eat Mulberry leaves and then the kids can see them spin their cocoons and all that jazz! Our school also does a caterpillar to butterfly experiment. At least it’s short term. My issue is vacation – what do you do with them on the RARE occasion you take a trip!?! Oh – and I love how the issue you have with turtles and frogs is Salmonella. I don’t think it’s the first thing ppl. come up with for those pets.

    How about a gecko? Oh – Beta Fish are easy and don’t require an aquarium. They’re relatively cheap, too!

    BTW – we’re a no pet family, too. I grew up with rabbits and hubby grew up with cats. We did have a beta fish – but never got a new one once he died. We’re too lazy … and heaven knows, I have NO free time!! Good luck!

    • Silk worms? where do you even get silk worms?
      I’ve considered beta fish as well… maybe that will be my next step up! They seem to be a little finicky though — you’re the second person I’ve heard recently with a beta fish that died.
      Gecko…I’m just not a big fan of anything reptilean or amphibian… salmonella or not. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Cocoon « One Family Table

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