Sunday, December 23, 2007

Newest Family Member

My wife is a stone cold dog freak. Her life is not complete without a dog. She has been this way since we first met, and I have just had to come to terms with the fact that although I too and furry and smelly, I cannot seem to fill that place in her heart that belongs to dog kind.

Our good old Buster dog died 2 years ago. We have been dogless since, and that has been a long dry spell for my Bride. This year was to have been The Year of the New Dog, but what with all the upheaval we have been experiencing, we never managed to acquire a new pet.

Our daughters have inherited the dog love. So I have had three women mooning away over dogs in general and in particular all year long. It is a favorite pastime of my oldest to read any of several books she owns on dogs. She is becoming quite the authority on various breeds, their uses and temperaments. Her mother has taken to surfing dog rescue websites, as well as sites of shelters. She finds profiles of dogs she likes, prints them out, and then brings them to the dinner table where we discuss the pros and cons of various dogs brought before the council. This has provided hours of entertainment for the whole family.

Nevertheless, as month after month goes by without actually getting a live dog for our house, my daughters have taken to lowering the stakes in a desperate bid to obtain SOME kind of animalian companionship. The poor girl got desperate enough to move down the food chain as far as fish, in hopes that a low enough bid might actually get the pet train moving in the right direction.

Last night, my Bride and I were on a date (by our own adult selves!) and decided that it might be time to actually act. We have been talking about purchasing a small pet for them recently, to at least give the girls something to focus on until we get a proper dog. So, to cut to the chase, we went to the local Petsmart, and brought home with us the newest member of our family.

Meet Gus, our new rat.

The name is not set in stone, but it seems to be the one we are settling on. It is chosen in commemoration of Augustus Ceasar (a major character in recent home school history studies on the Roman Empire). Whether Mr. Ceasar would be impressed by having a rat named after him is dubious, but since he is more than slightly dead, I am not overly concerned with his dignity.

Of all the other pet rodent options, he seems to have the best mix of activity/restfulness and sociability/solitariness. Gerbils are active and interesting, but don’t like to be handled. Hamsters have a tendency toward aggression. Word has it that Fancy Rats like being handled (if accustomed to it) and are active enough to be interesting without seeming manic. After meeting our rat, and handling him, we determined that he seemed like a nice boy. Since we already possessed an aquarium to provide a starter home, for about $40, we got what we needed to get things started and brought him home.

The plan was to present him on Christmas Day, but what the heck. Rather than hide him in the basement store room for 2 more days, we opted to let the girls start enjoying him today. As I write this he is resting on my chest, curled up inside my fleece pullover. He loves to crawl up inside my wife’s long black hair, nestling against her neck under the curtain of her tresses. He is about 6 inches long, not counting the tail. He is a juvenile, and we expect him to grow about half again as large when full grown.

The girls are fascinated, and it will be fun to see how he grows on us. I suppose, however, that when we get our dog, we will not be getting a terrier.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My wife has a dog and yours doesn't? Wow. Hell would freeze over before we could get a rodent.