The Pet Quest

Teacher: “Your daughter has said you’re getting a tortoise, that’s lovely”

Me: “Well we’re looking into it”

Teacher: points to picture my daughter has drawn of tortoise.


For the last few months I’d had a thing about getting a pet. And the thing about my things is that I voice them. I overshare. I raise these thoughts, suggestions, family ideas like an excitable puppy at Christmas that THIS IS the next adventure in our lives.

I work my hardest to get those around me on board.

Then the reality of these suggestions and ideas hit home.

The tortoise seems like the best idea in the world.

Apparently not.

tapir penis

One thing is for sure – I never want a tapir as a pet – do you get why???

You see, I have a thing about pets, about growing up with animals. It’s a rite of passage (isn’t it?) and I think we’ve failed so far. I could ride out the non-pet situ before kids as I was “well let’s have the babies first and clearly a pet with a baby is wrong because they’d eat it – you’ve seen that Meryl Streep film in the 80s based ON FACT haven’t you”…then I had the babies and now they’re growing and it feels like it’s time.

I had loads of animals growing up: cats, a dog, 2 pet cows, a horse, 3 goats, geese, chickens, ducks, a lizard, guinea pig, hamsters, gerbils, a guinea fowl called Git, various fish and 2 terrapins. Hmm, the terrapins.

Lest we not mention the terrapins again my friends, for fear of a call from the RSPCA. I was about 7. I didn’t know, I PROMISE, that cleaning them did not mean getting a cleaning product from the cupboard (Ajax) and a scourer and giving them a scrub. It didn’t bode well for the poor little animals. I’m not proud.


Maybe plastic animals are our pet fate?

Tragedy aside, I’m an animal lover. I love having a warm cat snuggle on my lap to stroke. Or a dog excitedly jumping up to say hello. It’s a hugely important lesson as a kid – the looking after, the caring, the neutral friend to be able to talk to and the death – and sometimes the birth.

If my children didn’t get to experience that I would’ve failed them. So the pet quest began and the a tortoise was mooted (by me). I dunno why – an easy pet. I’m not going to lie. We all watched Blue Peter. Pack them away in a box for winter, let them eat the grass during spring and summer. Job done.

Apparently not.

Modern-day tortoises are high maintenance. Who knew?

Not put off, we decided to investigate further. The Tortoise Rehoming Club clearly states a complicated collection of heatlamps, tables, enclosures etc for your pet. WTF? Erm methinks they didn’t have heatlamps on Blue Peter?

We ventured to a local animal place where they sell baby ones and I spotted a tortoise owner. So up I go, I ask (bombard) the overeager tortoise owner with questions. Yup, she has the set up: tortoise table for inside, enclosure for outside, a day heat lamp, a night red heat lamp – and get this – she bathes her tortoise every other day. Ermmmmmmm the boychild and girlchild only have a bath every other day. We’re heading straight back to shelled creatures and bathing products…..gaaahhhh.

Gutted. I’m not adding ‘bath tortoise’ to my endless list of chores. It’s one step too far.

So deflated as I was, we all decided perhaps a tortoise wasn’t for us.

We have rediscussed a cat, but Mr MotherFudger is from one of those (weird) families that hates them, thinks you can train them and would never have them on the bed (ermmmmmmmm say whaaaaaat?). Plus he’s allergic.

So we’re going to get ………….a goldfish.

The thing is – everyone is genuinely excited. I guarantee we’ll argue about the name. I am pushing for Miss Gloria. I guarantee the girlchild will go for Rosie (she names everything Rosie). The boychild will probably want to call it a Paw Patrol character and Mr MF will always call it “the goldfish”.

I’ll keep you posted…and keep the kids away from the cleaning products.


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