Now that you’ve heard how my daughter got her first pet, here’s my youngest son’s story.
To tell this story, you had to know about my daughter and her snake(s). The first snake we bought my daughter refused to eat. In our quest to help him, we found multiple ways to do this, one of which was to feed a live pinkie mouse. Something about feeding live gets a snake’s instinctual nature to kick in. Well, ours did not. We had a pinkie mouse with no mom, and if you didn’t know by now. We are BIG time animal lovers. I wasn’t about to let him die without giving him a fighting chance.
I googled how to take care of a baby mouse, which is not easy, they need to feed every couple of hours, kept warm, and their bowels need stimulated with a q-tip after every feeding. I had my work cut out for me, and my son surprised me by wanting to be a part of the whole process. He found this mouse adorable, so he helped with every feeding, staying up as late as he could to sit through the night feedings.
He wanted me to wake him up for the others, but he’s a growing boy who needs his rest, so I told him no. Come first thing in the morning, he was already right there asking how the mouse was doing and ready for the morning feed.
We were starting to form a bond with this little guy. We even named him Stewart. We did this for about three days before we found that he had passed. Now I know you’re probably thinking three days, and you guys were already head over heels over a mouse? Well, you can’t pick and choose when love will strike. We were with him every 2hrs for three days, that’s around 36hrs. I don’t believe there is a certain amount of time that needs to go by to appreciate and love another living creature.
We were heartbroken, I’m a grown woman who knew it didn’t have the best chances, and I cried, so you can imagine how hard it hit my son. He tried so hard to be strong. It was one of the sweetest, and saddest moments I’ve witnessed. My little boy planned a whole funeral for this sweet little mouse, hand-painted headstone and all. He even insisted on digging the hole. It was beautiful.
So a few days passed, and he started talking about wanting a pet of his own. He had had a taste of the kind of bond that can only come from loving an animal, and he wanted it.
His father and I discussed letting him have a pet that very night. It didn’t take long to conclude that this kid needed his very own pet. We had a lot of faith that he would do right by it, but he is only seven, so like with my daughter, I had to be prepared to pick up the slack.
We let him know the next day and gave him some options. Not surprisingly, he chose a rat! Not just any rat, he saved a rat from being snake food. He had his first pet and his first rescue! Which was a big deal to him at the time. He just learned that our neighbor rehabilitates birds, and after nursing the pinkie mouse, well, needless to say, he fell in love with the idea of helping animals.
Now my youngest has his first pet, and it is one of the sweetest relationships I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. Her name is Ruby Marshmallow, and when we first brought her home, they were inseparable and still are. The whole family has fallen in love. She is always out of her cage! She was a bit young when we got her, so we did have to syringe feed her for a tiny bit, which only made their bond stronger. They fall asleep together. He never forgets to feed or check the water. She is with him all the time. If he’s playing a game, She is on his lap or running along the couch, watching tv? She is cuddling up next to him. Playtime? Multiple times a day! She roams his room or is sitting on his shoulder, giving him lots of kisses. She is so spoiled she even gets home cooked meals!
One day when he was playing with his rat, he said, “It’s just when you hold them. It changes your life.” I, of course, wrote it down, bragging to friends and family. I’m glad I did now because it was inspiring, so much admiration and love for something so much smaller than himself.
Having pets has helped my kids grow in so many ways. It has taught them compassion for other living things. Taking care of an animal comes with lessons one can not be taught but has to learn through first-hand experience. I worried that maybe my kids were a bit too young for this lesson, and they have surprised me and continue to every day.
Pets in my house mean lots of responsibility, I let them do it all, besides cleaning right now, and even then, my oldest son has been taking over cage cleaning, but this also includes paying for their own pets’ supplies. They knew going into it what I expected. They don’t regret a moment of it, and neither do I.
It is an important rule of mine, if they’re going to have a pet, they’re going to take care of it properly, or I’ll take over, and it is no longer their pet. Anyone can have an animal in a cage and call it a pet, spending time with that animal though, feeding, and having to be responsible enough to buy it the stuff it needs, that’s when the lesson begins, that shows real responsibility and growth. It’s been months, and none of my kids have shown the slightest lack of enthusiasm for their furry and reptilian friends.
In a world full of technology and distractions at every corner combined with a child’s already short attention span, my kids have impressed me. I could not be prouder.
My name is Destiny! I’m happily married with three beautiful kids, whom I home-school. I also care for over 20 pets, all while running a freelance animal and pet writing business. I believe each day is a chance to be and do better than the last. I also believe in melt-downs, crying in your closet while eating the chocolate you hid from your kids… while the dogs sniff from the outside, letting everyone know where you are!
So, If you are crazy in love with your life, but you realize nothing can be perfect and want to grab some chocolate and chips and follow this beautiful mess, and see where it ends up? Please do!