Sometimes she thinks she will get a pet. In the past they have had a dog (their eldest son, a toddler at the time, started teething on the dog; the dog bit back; the dog soon left; the son stayed), a large number of kittens who made it to cathood, the ducks ( the original four who became a flock — more nuisance than pets), a hamster (it ate her newly born — very traumatic), the snake, several birds, and a few fish which quickly went belly up and were flushed down the toilet.
The more she thinks about it, the more conflicted she becomes. Snakes, ducks, and hamsters do not even make the “to consider” list. It would be nice to have someone happy to see her when she walks in the door. That eliminates cats and fish. She is down to dogs and birds.
Dogs make good companions. Many are loving and most are non-judgmental. One can get a rescue dog and feel virtuous. Dogs give a lot, but they also take. They take time — time to train them, time to walk them — and money. Besides the necessary vet bills, licenses, leashes, brushes, kibble, and a bowl from which to eat it, there are the tempting dog clothes, dog toys and dog treats. And, if necessary, training classes. They have to be looked after if one goes away. Sometimes they are more like children than animals — which can be good or bad and usually both.
So she is down to considering birds. They don’t need an enormous amount of looking after. If one wants to go away, one can usually find an obliging friend (without a cat, if possible) to help out. And they have had birds.
Their last bird one was Maxwell, a handsome blue parakeet who obligingly jumped from her husband’s finger to his shoulder where he would sit for hours. It was very sweet to see the two of them together, but very hard to wash the shoulder of any shirt that Maxwell had occupied.
Maxwell had a lot of freedom. Wings unclipped, he would fly around the house. Sometimes it was hard to get him to bed at night. They would have to chase him into a corner, then grab him. It took a lot of tries. It was a good way to get exercise.
Maxwell did have one bad habit. He would sit on the curtain rod above the patio door and peck at the wall. Soon he managed a noticeable hole.
“He’s trying to escape,” she told her husband many times.
“Nonsense,” he would reply, “he likes it here.”
One day she started her usual “Nonetheless …” before he interrupted with, “Even if he got out, he’d come right back. See.”
And he slid open the door.
Maxwell flew out and away and away and away.
Maxwell never came back.
They never bought another bird.
She doesn’t think she’ll buy one now, either.