By KATE HUNTER
One of the ways I get my daughters to come to the supermarket with me – you know, so I don’t drop them at the library – is to promise them 10 minutes poking around the pet shop. They look at rubber toys I won’t buy for our dog, and coo at the cute things you can get for kittens if you had the kind of mother who would buy you a kitten.
They know not to ask me for a kitten. One of the dog’s redeeming features is he gives me a damn good reason to say no to a cat.
However, the local pet shop has begun to stock baby white mice and my girls are besotted.
‘But Mum!’ says Annabel, ‘They’re only $7 each and they are soooo lovely. I could train them!’
‘No,’ I reply, ‘Come on, we need to get to the bakery. And the bottle shop.’
‘But Mum!’ says Sally,who’s six, ‘If we had mice and the mice have babies we could sell them and then we could get seven dollars and seven dollars and seven dollars.’
‘No no no no no no no no.’
‘Because a mouse is not a pet. It is a rodent. Daddy and I have paid money to GET RID of mice.’
‘But they are pets!’ wailed Annabel, ‘You buy them in PET SHOPS.’
On the way home we had one of those talks you know Carol Brady never had to have. I attempted to explain that there are, in my opinion, ‘Second Tier Pets,’ i.e. not dogs or cats or ponies. Animals that are decorative at best, pests at worst, which contribute little to family life.
1. Fish. Tropical and gold varieties. No fish has ever acted happy to see its owner come home. They can’t do tricks or change their expression with their moods.
Even Samurai Fighting Fish can’t be allowed to fight because if they did, one would die and you’d be back at the pet shop looking at mice.
Fish do look pretty, I’ll give them that. Until the bowl gets smelly and the fish trails a long bit of fish poo. Then no one wants to know about it.