The dragon and the other four leggeds.

The first pet Mike and I had together was a hamster named Nixon.  Unfortunately, not only do I have no inkling why we named him Nixon, I also don’t remember anything about his acquisition or his departure.  Poor unremarkable creature.

Then there was our old Basset Hound, Clyde.  He was ten years old when we adopted him and they gave us a  50% discount on the adoption fee, because, in addition to his geriatric state, he had also bit the only other people that came to meet him. Yes, he would try to bite, but he was so slow that there was a ten minute delay between the warning yelp and the time his teeth, (well, just slobbery gums really), made contact with his intended target. Along with that initial warning yelp came a  wave of nauseating dog breath so terrible it sent anybody scrambling for fresh air anyway, so all of our visitors remained bite free.

Then along came the cat.  PITA, Pain In The Ass, she was cute, and we had a mutual agreement that I would feed her and give her a comfortable place to live, and in turn, she would hate me. That worked okay until human baby number one came along and she started peeing in the car seat, so she moved to Montana.

While PITA was still with us, but after Clyde had departed, we got Oscar.  The cutest Whippet puppy ever.  Also the most destructive canine I’ve ever known of in my entire life.  That dog ate cabinet doors, window trim, furniture, shoes, eye glasses… Oscar was getting into the garbage until he was fourteen years old, the amount of inorganic material I have scooped up from the backyard has convinced me that pretty much anything will make it through a dog’s digestive system. He is the reason I roll my eyes when anybody freaks out that their dog accidentally ate a chocolate chip.

Katie, our rescued racing greyhound, came along shortly after Oscar, partly because we thought that maybe if Oscar had a friend he would stop getting on top of the hot water heater and chewing on the door trim (true story).  Katie was pretty much the most perfect princess ever, unless we stayed up past bedtime watching TV, and then she would stand in the middle of the living room and bark until we went to bed.  You get to be bossy when you’re a princess.

After the passing of our old, spoiled, sight hounds, our human kids began begging for a puppy.  Thus, Koko.  Koko is a black lab mix mutt that has never so much as chewed up a stuffed animal, therefore she has ruined the chances of the kids ever talking me into another puppy because there is no way on the face of the Earth that we could ever be that lucky again.

Short of joining us at the dining room table for meals, Koko doesn’t appear to know the difference between herself and the rest of the family.  Although she does seem to wonder why she is the only one that is worried about the squirrel infestation in the backyard.

And then, twenty some years after our first forgettable hamster, along came two more, two, plural, because they’re small, so take two.  Except they don’t get along, so that also means two cages.  Also, one loves (well, tolerates is probably a better word) being packed around by his girl child keeper, the other one bites, and unlike our old dog from so many years ago, Zipper the hamster is pretty good at landing a rather painful, sharp toothed bite.  So he just hangs out in his rodent mansion accepting treats.

Somewhere in there we ended up with three gold fish, which I thought were supposed to live for about three weeks, ours however, are going on three years. I talk to them, they swim around and ignore me.  I really don’t think they have a purpose.  They cost 0.15 each and we are at least a few hundred dollars in when you consider the tank, food and filters, so while the fish don’t seem that smart, the pet store is apparently somewhat brilliant.

And then, just a few days ago, Henry.  Henry is a baby bearded dragon.  Henry seems to have kind of a funny personality so he will probably fit in just fine around here.  But did I mention baby?  Baby dragons need fed three to five times a day.  Which means, beings I’m the only one in the house all day, I am on feeding duty at least once a day.  Baby dragons eat crickets and worms.  Crickets stink, THIS I did not know, by the second day of opening the plastic bin for cricket retrieval I was informing Henry that he best grow fast and move onto this veggie diet that I’ve been told he will transition to “as soon as he is big enough, Mom”.

Also?  Baby dragons, like all other living things, need to poop.  However, baby dragons tend to have some digestive issues when they move to a new environment, and everybody knows that when ANY living creature in the house has digestive issues, it becomes Mom’s issue.

So, for two days, while his keeper was at school,  not only did I check the lizard cage every half hour for signs of poo, but twice a day Henry the dragon got belly rubs and warm baths (because that helps them stay hydrated, which helps them go potty, OH the things I’m learning…).  Baby lizard baths are pretty uneventful, I put him in a 1/2 an inch of warm water we stare at each other for twenty minutes, because, one more thing?  Baby dragons can drown if you leave them unattended.  This is a lot of work for something that isn’t even soft and cuddly, and that requires live food (that food better not escape, I will yell, and then I will squish the food).

Finally!  Along with cricket legs in his cage, lizard poop!

Seriously though, enough pets already.








8 thoughts on “The dragon and the other four leggeds.

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  1. Somehow I missed knowing that Oskie was so destructive? I knew about the garbage, that’s an issue for most whippets. I had no idea about the hot water heater – that’s kinda weird. (Wish I had been better at helping with that.) He was an angel when I housesat lol. I did wonder.if he helped you decide to expose the hardwood floors…love you Olsen Family!


    1. I sure miss that old snuggly guy. He would jump onto the dryer, then up on the hot water heater to reach the door trim. All of our remodeling, he was just trying to help 🙂


  2. You outdid yourself this time, Melanie. Kudos! Or is it Komodos? When does your syndicated column start running in the NY Times?

    I bet Mikey was jealous of Henry’s belly rubs.

    Funny that you had a Whippet named Oscar. My Oscar was never that fast.

    Can’t wait to hear about your next critter. Do you think they pick the animals to torment you? I mean for all the work I’d go for something warm blooded–maybe even cute and, dare I say, cuddly? I know that you can’t pass on to your family that they need to step up their per game knowing that at least Mike and Joe would take it as a challenge and go for something like a velociraptor. My sincerest sympathies. Do you think they will ever grow out of it? Jim Sent from my iPhone



  3. Loved your story about the family pets… With two 13 yr olds in the house, we’ve had our fair share of critters joining the clan. Recently, our family has grown to include 4 dogs, a cat, a tarantula and several fish. And yes, my son desperately wants a bearded dragon… which I pray is not a wish fulfilled – – although those baby dragons looks so darn cute at the Pet Store!.
    Anyway… thanks for sharing… it gave me a good chuckle! Monica Reisner Belknap


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