Hello My Friends,
I recently had to face a hard dilemma that involved my 6 year old daughter Madeline.
She is the center of my life and I would do anything for her, but when it came to getting her a dog I had to say “no”. Neither my wife nor I are pet people. We’re not plant people either as evidenced by the withered remains of potted things that litter our porch.
I tried to reason with Madeline but she was set on owning a pet and was wailing and crying in anguish. She told me that she wanted to give her love to a pet and that she was ready to take care of a dog. I had been saying no to her for a couple of years regarding owning a pet. We bought some time with Goldie the gold fish – who lasted one day.
I had gone to a Leafs game and when I came home Goldie was floating at the top of the water. Unfortunately my wife and daughter had given Goldie her evening meal. It turns out there was enough food in the water to feed a run of tuna . Next we got a beta fish, Coral, who lasted about four months before doing the one-eyed side stroke at the top of the tank.
I heard Madeline’s need to connect with a pet in a new way when she was crying. She is an only child and doesn’t have brothers or sisters to engage and because of the busy street we live on there’s no community of kids playing out front of the house she can run with. Her tears almost brought me to tears as her pain overwhelmed me.
The long term commitment of a dog got me searching for a somewhat less long lived mammal that might meet her needs and reduce the years of indentured servitude that I as the beast-keeper would have to endure. Which brought me to the guinea pig.
The guinea pig is a member of the rodent family from the Andes, as I learned from Wikipedia. They estimated that it could live for between 4-7 years. The guinea pig has a need to socialize with others so the recommendation is that you have at least two so the rat doesn’t get bored and start chewing the enclosure that you have built to keep them from going about and chewing up the cords to computers or lamps.
I would have to say that the best part of the Wikipedia entry was the section on guinea pigs as food.
Apparently the residents of the Andes region consume 65 million of the rodents every year. The meat of the beast is said to taste like the dark meat of a chicken and has a high protein value and low cholesterol. Lovely.
Now that I had found a pet that could conceivably only be in my care for 4 -7 years I introduced them to Madeline. She was enthralled. We spent time on the web looking at sites with guinea pigs and videos of how to care for them and that’s when the honeymoon ended. One video suggested that the animal could live for 10 years which was a set back.
Like a convicted criminal I could take 4-7 in a deal but 10 was too long a stretch for this old man.Now let me be frank with you my friends I did analyse what I might have to be called upon to do initiate an exit strategy if a pet was bought and absolutely had to be terminated with all due prejudice.
My pal Ron was quick to tell me he offed his daughters cat after it sprayed on his computer so I knew where to go if I needed some wet work done.
And then it came to me. I’m not a farmer, pet owner, or assassin. I’m a capitalist and that’s when I realized that I could negotiate my way out of my dilemma. I started the bidding at $100 if she would forgo the residency of a pet in my home until she graduated from college. This was money that wouldn’t go into her education fund but could be used for anything she wanted. Madeline quickly rejected my offer.
Now I have to tell you that Madeline is a very special child. When she was three years old she came running up to me as I came through the door from work and asked daddy can I have some money. Thinking she wanted the change from my pocket I said of course my love how much do you want. To which she replied $20,000. Picked her up – kissed her – and said victoriously “You Are My Child”! I also went and wrote her a cheque for the amount to go into her college fund.
Over the last three years I have taught Madeline to play poker, Monopoly, Risk, Clue and chess in an effort to help her improve her numeracy and literacy. She has gotten pretty good at these games and has been known to skin her Dad more often than not in all of the above pursuits.
I quickly raised my bid to $200. Again my offer was rejected. We went back and forth till we got to $1000.00 and by which time I put it in terms of currency she could understand. I told her she could buy ten American Girl Dolls with that amount of money. She said she needed to think about it for a day.
As I was about to leave she said “Daddy let”s close this deal”. I wrote up a Maddie-Daddy Contract and a cheque and had the contract witnessed by my wife. Now $1000.00 may seem like a lot of money but when you calculate all the time and money spent on pets I say I got the best of a bargain.
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