Have you ever wondered if there’s such a thing as a “perfect pet”? I suspect the idea of the perfect pet is subjective, as people have very different needs and wants when it come to pets. (And just about everything else). As for myself, my perfect pet would be quiet, well-mannered, NO drool or stink, friendly and fluffy, able to use a litter box (consistantly), and low maintenance. How’s that for a list?
Over the years, I’ve tried to find the perfect pet. But it seemed I was having a little trouble finding the right fit…
First I tried rabbits – two different ones at two different times. Unfortunately, they had to be housed outside so I was never able to bond with them and they did not bond with me. (I’ve since learned that tiny hutches are a thing of the past, and not humane for those poor bunnies). The rabbits soon found homes elsewhere.
Then, after much begging, pleading and cajoling, I succeeded in convincing my parents that the perfect pet for me would be a hamster. That was a mistake. I didn’t really know much about hamsters (although I thought I did), and the one I picked seemed to be completely anti-people and nipped at me whenever I tried to pick her up. She also developed the annoying habit of sticking her butt up and peeing out the back of the cage. My mom was not happy with the little trails of pee running down the glass fireplace doors. But what could I do? Hamsters can’t be potty trained.
The last straw was the night my mom woke up to the sound of her favorite slippers being happily chewed on by a little escapee who had found her way into her bedroom. She grabbed the hamster, only to have her finger promptly chomped down on. It drew blood. But to my mom’s credit, she held on. Shortly after that, the hamster was removed from our home, and that was the end of the hamster experiment.
Next, I begged for a kitten. I was not alone in this endeavor, and my poor dad finally broke down under the pressure of three girls begging for kittens, and allowed us to turn our backyard clubhouse into a “cat house”. (My dad was allergic to cats, and there was no way a cat was going to set foot in our house). The backyard setup turned out to be a nice compromise.
A short time later, we brought our kittens home from the animal shelter and proceeded to lock them in the “cat house” for a few weeks until they had grown bigger, and gotten used to us. Anyone who has had outdoor-only cats knows that it’s just not the same as having an indoor lap kitty. I was hoping for a companion, and instead got a very shy, very sweet fluffy ball fur. I named her Bambi and loved her dearly. She was precious. She just wasn’t around very much… Too busy hunting up mice in the field behind out house, and exploring the neighbor’s food dishes, I suppose. She wasn’t quite the perfect pet.
Years later I got married and, although I’d left my aging Bambi cat at my parent’s, after awhile we agreed we should get a cat of our own… So we did. Only to discover that my husband had allergies to cats, too. So that pet had to find a new home, and I settled down to wait for my next opportunity…
It came a few years after my oldest two were born. I decided one day, that we should adopt a rabbit. This time through craigslist, and it had to be outdoor – on the covered patio – because we were renting at the time and the owners didn’t want us to have pets. (They didn’t know me very well, did they?) We did finally get permission for the rabbit. And I did get him through craigslist. This bunny was friendly enough and never nipped, but was not eager to be touched or held at all. Oh well. It was short-lived as I got pregnant again and realized there was no way I was able to care for this rabbit, and three busy little kids, too. So we found the perfect home for “Tommy Rabbit” with a little girl who was entering 4H. Bye-bye bunny.
After that, I tried two rats, several goldfish, a betta, and my husband decided a bearded dragon lizard was just the thing for our son to take care of. Didn’t work. My husband ended up having to take care of it. (My son is not an animal person). So eventually the little lizard found a much better home.
After we bought a new house, I decided it was time to try something different. I strategically planned and schemed, and finally found the “perfect pet”. Guinea pigs! I found two male guinea pigs from a shelter online and arranged to “adopt them”. Two months into it, I realized I had made a BIG mistake. Yes, the guinea pigs were sweet and friendly, and yes they were quiet (except when they heard the refrigerator veggetable drawer open), and yes they were soft. HOWEVER. They pooped everywhere! I tried every trick and suggestion I could find online, but to no avail. These boys just continued to do their business anywhere they pleased. It was a lot of work cleaning out their cage, even though I used fleece and washed it every week, and bought every other expensive product out there to make my life easier. My husband began to complain about the smell, and in the end I decided that guinea pigs are NOT the perfect pet for me. I did not want more babies to clean up after – at least not ones I couldn’t potty train. So I made a quick title change, declared myself their “foster mom”, and found a local family who already had several guinea pigs and other critters, to adopt them. Happy ending.
There was just one little problem. I still had all these supplies, cages, etc. that were now sitting unused in my living room. What to do? Should I sell them off? Nope. You see, I still had this tiny hope that I could (somehow) find the perfect pet. Crazy, huh? You bet.
I got up the courage to (beg) my husband to give me one more chance… And allow me to get two baby bunnies! Being the amazing man he is, he agreed. I got them from a local breeder, at just 12 weeks old. Still little and precious and SO FLUFFY!! On day two, they both used their litter boxes to pee. ONLY their little boxes. And it has been that way ever since. They do leave little droppings in their cage, and I sweep them up once a day, but it’s SO much easier than the other pets I’ve had. Quiet, well-manned, don’t drool or stink, I can pick them up, and they are super friendly and jump right in my lap! Overall low maintenance and yes, they are able to be potty trained. At least to pee in the right place. That’s huge for me. A deal breaker.
But wait. I tried rabbits before. So what’s the difference? This time they are indoor bunnies. They have a very large cage (no free-roaming due to kids’ toys, etc. all over the house) and they also go outside for a few hours every day. They are sweet companions. I do find it ironic that I began with rabbits, and ended up with them, too.
At the end of the day, I hope no one is offended by my stories of giving up on so many pets, but honestly, I’ve had a wonderful time trying to find the “perfect pet” over the years. And if you never try something – how will you know if it works? Better to try and fail, than to never try at all.
So in answer to my question… No, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “perfect pet”. But I do believe there is such a thing as “the right pet for me”. If you’re an animal lover, I hope you’ve found just the right pet for you. And if that happens to be a guinea pig, just be sure to order a lifetime supply of preemie diapers!