My very first pet was a goldfish named Pish.
Yes, Pish the Fish. To be fair, my family got him when I was maybe 4 years old, and I’m not even sure I’m the one who named him. There isn’t a lot I can tell you about a fish, especially since I was so young at the time, but here’s what I remember. He had his own place on a little table of some sort against one of the walls in our kitchen. He was a pretty normal looking goldfish, with a pretty normal looking bowl.
I thought he was special though. Helping my parents clean his bowl was one of my absolute favorite things, and I was always so worried when we had to catch him and move him to one of those tiny plastic cups. There were never any accidents though… he always made it back “home.” Feeding Pish was one of my first chores as a child. Every other day I could sprinkle in a tiny pinch of fish food, and watch him eat. It was fascinating. To this day, I am in awe of every little move fish make, the way their mouths work, how they always look so graceful.
Anyway, after two years of admiring Pish, he died. Two years is a long time for a goldfish, and I think it felt even longer to me as a young child. I took his passing pretty hard. My parents tried to flush him, as you do with dead fish, but I was so upset over the whole ordeal that I convinced them to put him in a little jewelry box and let me bury him in the backyard. We didn’t mark the spot or anything, so I never really remembered where he was, but I always knew he was back there. It’s pretty morbid now that I think about it, but that’s the story of my first pet.
Sadie was my first dog… sort of.
There isn’t too much to say about Sadie. My mom rescued her from the pound. She was a 4-5 year old yellow lab and just the sweetest dog I’d ever met. I was probably 6 at this point, and my little brother would have 3 or so. We only got to keep Sadie for about a week because my brother was so terrified of her. She never did anything to be afraid of, except maybe she licked his face once, but after a week of him crying or panicking whenever she came around, my parents had to take her back. Now that I think about it, this isn’t the only time I’ve gotten a puppy/dog only to have it taken back after such a short time… but we’ll get to those later.
Next was Emmie, a cat I got for my seventh birthday, and her eventual eight kittens.. She’s a long story, so I’ll save it for a separate post.
Shortly after the time I got Emmie, my grandparents got a corgi named Mickey who had come all the way to the U.S. from Ireland. He was trained as a sheepdog, but I guess that didn’t work out. Mickey showed up in the summer and was a great dog, had perfect house manners, and my brother and I adored him. We used to ask to go to our grandparents all the time so we could take him for walks and “teach” him tricks.
After a long few months of having Mickey around as a playmate, my grandmother decided she just couldn’t take care of him anymore. My brother and I had been walking and playing with him all summer, and she just couldn’t keep that up when we went back to school. We were devastated when she told us he had to go to a new home, but lucky for us, Mickey stayed in the family. He now lives with my ex-sister-in-law’s aunt and uncle on a huge piece of fenced in property where he can run around all he wants. As far as I know, he’s still alive.
Those are some of the first animals I ever had. They were important to me because of the lessons I learned at a young age more than for the relationships I had with any of them. Honestly, none of them were around long enough to have relationships with, at least that I can remember.
Next time I’ll tell you all about my Emmie cat and her babies. She wasn’t my first pet, but she was certainly one of the most important.
Credit: Painting by Olga Shvartsur