He’s a shimmery, bluish-purple beta fish that swims in casual circles as if he’s on the outside looking in at all these weird walking creatures.
He’s peaceful and worry-free … save for when the smallest creature invades his home with a grubby finger or by tossing in a piece of oatmeal raisin cookie.
Unfortunately for Sully, that creature is technically his owner. We felt it was time for Jellybean to get a pet to call her own. After countless trips to the fish tank at our favorite sushi restaurant, a fish made sense.
We started small — and low-maintenance — because first pets have something of a dubious history in the Buckner home. We’ve managed to raise three dogs to varying degrees of success — Cooper eats entire loaves of wheat bread, Ringo is anti-social and Bonham is haunted by “shelter dreams” — but that was easy because dogs are self-reliant. They’ll drink out of the toilet when their water bowls are low, and only require an occasional scratch behind the ears.
Cats, on the other hand, are evil. Sure they look all cute and fluffy, but a cat will eat your face off if you die and can’t feed it, or steal the breath from a sleeping baby.
But I’m thinking more along the lines of disposable pets, those that have rather short lifespans. Starter pets, if you will. For us, it was Sherlock, the Indiana Jones of dwarf hamsters.
Sherlock was an unwanted surprise that The Diva convinced her grandmother to buy several years ago when My Lovely Wife and I were out of town. Once the then-10-year-old Diva lost interest, the responsibility for Sherlock’s general well-being fell to me.
I felt sorry for the little guy, stuck in that cage all day, running on his squeaky metal wheel. He needed some adventure. So I plopped him in one of those little balls, and that dude went to town. He logged more miles than Dick Trickle, taking laps around the downstairs playroom at speeds that would’ve made the Roadrunner jealous. Trouble was, whenever he hit a wall too hard, the top of the ball popped off, and Sherlock kept going.
Dwarf hamsters are built for speed and stealth, so catching Sherlock was out of the question. Once he stayed gone for a full month. I figured he was dead, until one morning I heard a strange scratching noise coming from my desk drawer. He had built a fine nest, while living off stray pieces of dog food.
But eventually Sherlock’s adventurous spirit gave out. We’re not exactly sure when. Given the state of The Diva’s room, it took some time to locate the source of the smell, but we found him curled up in a tiny, little ball — still for the first time ever.
The Diva did love him. She was just afraid to touch him. When My Lovely Wife and I gently delivered the news, she looked to the place where Sherlock’s cage once stood and said, “Yeah, I thought he might be dead. He hadn’t moved for a while.”
Now there’s Sully. Although his adventures are limited by what we watch on TV, I hope that he enjoys half the life Sherlock did … and that it lasts twice as long.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com.