As it turns out, I would never want to own a dog or cat. This means that my children have turned into the kids with all the oddball pets - and they never work out. At present, we have two guinea pigs, two hermit crabs, and four birds. The birds are totally my fault, because I like them and Ed purchased a pair for me back in the day before we had child rearing responsibilities. The birds bred, a lot, and we used to have many, many more. The bird population has dwindled, but I cannot get rid of the ones I have left because they all look like death warmed over. They are well past their average life expectancy.
The guinea pigs are a disaster. Originally, I approved the purchase of hamsters, but Ed had the bright idea to do research, and his research suggested that guinea pigs make better pets. What he did not tell me was that guinea pigs live SEVEN years, and hamsters live TWO. If we had hamsters, they would probably be dead now or very close to dead. As it is, Ed has to clean the guinea pig cage every week or two (a condition of the purchase), we all feed them whenever we remember, and nobody actually plays with them except when Connor or Helen has a friend over. In other words, we have all the down sides to owning a pet, none of the up sides.
I actually love the hermit crabs. Connor received these as a gift from Ed's dad when we were vacationing in Cape May this past summer. We started out with three, but one died when we were vacationing in California. Connor, for the most part, has forgotten about them - though occasionally he does thank me for feeding them. I moved the hermit crabs from their travel home (a tiny cage that can be carried around) to an aquarium we had in the basement. We had this aquarium, by the way, because I had gotten it from a free listserv when we were going to get hamsters. So I guess it's good we didn't get the hamsters after all?
I'm counting the days until the birds die and have been desperately trying to give the guinea pigs away. In fact, after a shedding a few tears, Connor seemed to understand how we needed to get rid of the pigs and in a moment of weakness, I told him he could get a fish instead. But the crabs? I spend my evenings trying to sneak up on them while they're wandering around looking for food. Whenever they sense I am near, they hunker down and hide inside their shells - so stealthy!