Monday, 17 October 2011

Death of a pet (s)

One of the gerbils has died. Thank god it’s Cinnamon and not Emily. Emily was named after one of Youngest’s favourite classmates.

I had my suspicions last Tuesday when Cinnamon failed to stir at feeding time, confirmed the next evening with the discovering of a tiny rigid corpse. Middle One sobbed. I thought he might be immune to pet deaths by now - there have been so many.

First the tropical fish, we killed a lot of those, not quite sure how, they just kept disappearing. We’d go to bed with a tank full of pretty fish and wake up to fewer. Sometimes a lot fewer. That was after the night of the Tiger Barb massacre. We’d just bought some lovely stripy specimens from the Morden Hall Aquatic Centre. Turned out they weren’t so lovely. When we got up next morning all the other fish had gone. Vanished. Vamoosed. Foolishly we thought Tiger Barbs got their name from the stripes.

Then the hamster died. This was a few years back now and Middle One was distraught. We did all the right things: talked about her a lot, held a funeral, buried her in the garden, drew pictures, even baked cakes for the wake. Still Middle One’s nightly sobbing continued until, by day seven, I snapped. “Enough already with the hamster grief. It’s dead, it’s sad, now move on.”

With Cinnamon it’s Groundhog Day all over again. Or should that be Groundgerbil Day? Much crying and wringing of hands. Not that anyone actually does anything with the poor little thing. She just lies there in the bottom of her cage quietly decomposing because I’m too busy to deal with it. Emily seems oblivious. Seems oblivious…

Finally, after two days, I summon up courage, snap on a pair of Marigolds and dig around in the sawdust. It’s a gruesome task but someone’s gotta do it. All I find is a tail with some matted fur attached. Gross. Perhaps Cinnamon and Emily weren’t as close as we thought?

We bury Cinnamon in the garden in a cardboard box as Youngest and Middle One cry.

Then on Saturday Eldest comes downstairs with a strange look on his face. “Lee’s dead,” he says. Lee is his Leopard Gecko. “Oh,” I say. I imagine Eldest will be secretly quite pleased about this, he is 15 now... Eldest, that is, not the gecko, although he might have been too, he was old and had lately become, quite frankly, something of a burden. What with the constant internet orders for more live crickets and the regular hassle of finding a non-vegetarian to feed them to him every time we went away.

But what am I thinking? These were our problems. Eldest, whose pet it actually was, did virtually nothing. He took no interest in the creature at all. So we’re rather surprised when he sheds tears too.

Still, no one’s actually taken the trouble to bury the lizard yet: he’s lying outside the backdoor in an iPhone 4 box. It’s the perfect size for his coffin.