It's been two and a half years since I became a pet owner, against my will, at the Intel Family Picnic and wrote this highly controversial blog post. (Sixteen comments! That's more than any other blog post to date!)
As you know, we started off with two goldfish. About a year into the goldfish captivity, one fish decided to make a break for it while we were away at Yellowstone. Don't worry, the fish were being carefully cared for by responsible friends who were following my meticulous instructions to replace the water every 2 days--or 7 days. Anyway, Ned (or was it Lucky) leapt over the edge of the bowl and landed on the kitchen floor. He wasn't discovered until our shoeless, sockless friend wandered into the kitchen early in the morning and, well, I'll just let you fill in the details yourself.
Lucky (or Ned) on the other hand, decided his captivity was better than a tenuous chance at freedom (the devil you know . . . ) and stayed put. He swims today, just a few feet from where I sit, in the same fishbowl I put him in back in August of 2010. I am mostly ambivalent about his existence. There is, however, a part of me that is resentful he has lived so long, if I'm being perfectly honest.
There are plenty of goldfish advocates out there who claim I'm torturing this fish. And maybe I am. But I wonder what I should have done when my children ran up to me, thrilled with their newly-won prizes in little plastic, water-filled bags?
Should I have dumped them in a pond or flushed them down the toilet to put them out of their misery and prevent their eventual suffering? Would that have been more humane?
I guess the reason this compassionate move didn't occur to me is because while raising a goldfish, I'm also raising three boys. Humans. Children from my womb. Making them flush their living creatures down the toilet just seemed . . . wrong. I'm not ashamed to say, I am more concerned with their upbringing than I am with the upbringing of a couple fish.
Should I have insisted they return the fish at the family picnic? Maybe. They might have gotten over that eventually.
Should I have made them turn them over to the employee at Petco, where the goldfish could live out their lives in a 20 gallon tank? Until someone came to buy feeder fish for her turtle.
Should I have purchased my own 20 gallon tank, a filter, and all the other tank paraphernalia for two goldfish? Am I wrong for not wanting to make a huge investment on pets I didn't want? Pets that everyone told me would be dead in 6 months. Pets that cost 29 cents each?
I know there are plenty of people out there who will say I was wrong to keep the goldfish in such a cruel way.
You know what? I can live with that.