Anyone who knows me knows I have a weakness for pets…My husband neither supports nor endorses my penchant for collecting extra mouths to feed and poop to shovel, but he tolerates it with the stoicism of the English.
Last week I was in Portland, Oregon with two of my siblings. We stayed at the historic Benson Hotel. As I perused the menu of guest services, my eye was immediately drawn to the “Fish Program”:
I relentlessly pestered my sister with whom I was sharing a room until she broke down and let me order up a “companion fish.” I gleefully called housekeeping and made the request.
A young man came to the door bearing this beauty…
I announced the betta’s arrival into my life to my friends on Instagram, and named him “Benson” at the suggestion of one of my cousins. My husband, a rare consumer of social media, spotted the post and countered with his own suggestion for a name: “Blood Clot.” (You see what I’m saying? This is a man who is not at all into animal husbandry).
I tried to freak him out a little by telling him that the hotel was going to let me bring Blood Clot home, but he did not rise to the bait.
My next attempt to yank his chain was to send him a picture of the “emotional support companion” dog who happened to be sitting next to me on the flight home from Portland.
“They wouldn’t let me bring Blood Clot home, but…meet Sprocket! I know you’re going to adore him!” I wrote:
My little joke was met with deafening silence. Perhaps because I had already tried to play that dirty trick on him a couple years ago:
I’m not the only one in my family who loves animals. My daughter really wanted baby goats, and for a hot second I actually considered getting them for her:
I came to my senses and we reached a more reasonable compromise:
So when my son asked if he could adopt his friend’s mudskipper, I could hardly refuse, although I had no idea what the heck a mudskipper was. “Mudskipper” didn’t sound at all cute or cuddly.
The name was somewhat alarming, but more alarming still was the fact that my son’s friend wanted to unload him in the first place. I happened to know that this friend of his has an even larger and more diverse menagerie than we have. He has a falcon, two dogs, a whole aquarium full of fish, geckos, chickens, a snake…Hello?! The boy has a pet FALCON, for Pete’s sake!
Why in the world would he want to get rid of his mudskipper?
I agreed to let my son bring the mudskipper home, but I told him we could only take him after Christmas since we would be traveling over the holidays.
To my dismay the mudskipper arrived well before Christmas.
“Hey! I thought we’d agreed that we couldn’t take him until after Christmas?!”
“I know, but we had to take him now, because getting rid of the mudskipper is [my friend]’s Christmas present to his dad.”
May I remind you that my son’s friend has a falcon, a gecko, a snake, two dogs, chickens, and a whole plethora of other fish? The kid has his own chest freezer full of dead mice to feed his falcon. But the one pet which his dad objected to was the mudskipper. He was SO anxious to get it out of his house, that he asked his son to get rid of it as a Christmas present to him.
Meet Darwin, the mudskipper:
So adorable, right?
Why in the world would anyone want to get rid of such a sweet little creature?
Darwin arrived with a jar of food, which he begrudgingly eats:
…when he can’t get the fresh food he prefers.
The other day I came upon my son, who was sitting on his haunches rooting around in my garden.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Just getting some dinner for my man, Darwin.”
My birthday isn’t until September, but I already know exactly what I’m going to ask for!