All the Pets I've Loved Before, Part One: 1 to 15
I tried to make a list of all the pets I’ve had over my lifetime, and it seemed logical to list them by name as well as what kind of animal they were, but I can’t remember all of their names. Does this make me a monster?
See? That first sentence is why we need punctuation that indicates when a question is rhetorical. You’re not supposed to answer it. The percontation point, a backwards question mark (⸮), was proposed by English printer Henry Denham in the 1580s to denote irony, but I propose we use it for rhetorical questions instead to avoid this kind of confusion.
shhhhh, i’m not a monster
I feel swathes of guilt for not loving everything enough, and yet I’m still bad at remembering names, even those of people and animals I love. I’ve forgotten the names of several pets, I forgot Aidan’s name a month after we were married, and I can almost guarantee that, if you know me in person or online, I’ve forgotten your name at some point. I might be forgetting it now.
After that intro, I’ve decided to make the list of all my pets, anyway. I’m going to pretend I remember what everyone was called, and I’m going to make up names for the ones I forget and not tell you which ones are made up. I told you ahead of time that some of them are fictional, so it’s not lying.
1) Warren, a syrian hamster: He was white and caramel, and he managed to escape his confines no matter what I did. He ate my orthodontic head gear.
2) Pepper, a tuxedo mixed breed cat, likely part siberian or norwegian forest cat:
He was a tiny kitten the humane society claimed was the runt of his litter, but he grew to be a lean 23 pounds at his top weight before his liver failed four years later. He was a wild thing we couldn’t keep inside happily. He’d disappear for weeks, show up fat with dead animals on the lawn, especially bats. He walked me to and from friends’ houses like a dog, menaced the mail carrier, and disrupted my classroom several days in a row when he found out which window was mine and pressed his impressive chest against it until I dragged him home.
3 & 4) Ralph and Alice, a black moor and a common goldfish: I kept them in a bowl for less than a week before they both lost fins to a fungus, swam on their sides, and then died within three days of each other.
5 & 6) Nancy and George, a red wag platy and a common goldfish: George nibbled on Nancy until she succumbed to her injuries, and then George, hopefully out of remorse for his disgusting cannibalism, went belly up about a week later.
7) Harry, an anole: Harry was great. He changed colour depending on what he was sitting on and could leap to a surprising height. My mother wasn’t crazy about the cricket larvae I had to keep to feed him, so she wasn’t heartbroken in the least when my uncle lost Harry in the back yard. I’m still suspicious that “lost” is a euphemism for “set free to die alone when winter came.”
8) Bernard, a syrian hamster: He would only run on this extra squeaky metal wheel. I tried to replace it with two other quiet wheels, but he stopped running until I gave him his squeaky wheel back, I didn’t sleep well for several months until I fobbed him off on a cousin with the excuse that I couldn’t take him with me when I moved away for school.
9) Abbey, a calico cat: She was perfectly lovely when we met her at the humane society, but then they spayed her, and she had a rare condition afterward that meant she was in permanent heat. She yowled for weeks straight until she managed to escape the house, never to return. I assume she went on to make a lot of male cats very, very happy.
10–13) Mick, a rubber lip plecostomus; Neil, an oranda goldfish; Doris, a shubunkin goldfish; and Fred, a black molly: This time around, I bought a proper tank with an electric filter, but Neil and Fred did poorly almost immediately. Doris made a go of it for about three months. Only Mick pulled through. He lived the entire school year with me until I passed him on to another student with a better track record when I moved back home.
14) Ramòn, a black american shorthair cat: He was an outdoor stray that decided we were family. He was smarter than any cat I’ve ever known. After a period of time living with an ex, I brought him to live with me at my new place where there was a dinner party going on. I told him he had to say hello to everyone in his new home before he hid upstairs, and he did just that. He went to each person, sniffed their hand, got a head pat, and moved on to the next. The guests were enthralled with his person-ness. He died two days later of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He was only about four years old, and I will miss him forever.
15) Max, a grey american shorthair cat: I loved him, but he started going feral before his first birthday. One day he dug up all the rug in my living room so I couldn’t open my bedroom door. I had to crawl out a second-floor window and break into my own living room to get back into the rest of my apartment. For the next two weeks he stalked me mercilessly as soon as the sun went down. I had to wear winter clothes as protective gear while I slept. A friend took him in, but eventually she dropped him off at “a farm”. That was her story, and she stuck to it.