Personal pet history has had a lot of come-and-go to it

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DAVID VOGEL
“Animal: Any organism of the kingdom Animalia, distinguished from plants by certain typical characteristics, such as the power of locomotion, fixed structure and limited growth, and nonphotosynthetic metabolism.”

I was interested in what the dictionary would say about animals. I didn’t understand half of what it said, and there were probably about a million (meaning three) more possible definitions. Then I wondered, I wonder what the dictionary would say about the word “pet.”

“Pet: An animal kept for amusement or companionship.” (Or, in my cat’s case, annoyment.)

Well, that pretty well covers what people all around me are needing… including me.

It started about two years ago. We sold our parakeets and sadly put our old 15-year-old dog to sleep. My fish? Well, I put them in Mr. Just’s aquarium at school so the class could enjoy them. They died.

All I had was a dog and a cat-your normal house pets. That’s when I decided that when I was older, and I could take care of a pet better, and I wanted a pet. A fish. I begged and begged until I finally got an early birthday present-a one-gallon aquarium.

I started with guppies, neons, ghost shrimp-none of which I still have today. After a year, I’ve gone to one guppy, two plattes and three gold fish (one that looks like a calico cat.).

As you know, I also have three box turtles (tortoises, actually): Murtle, Sherman and Burt. And this fall, I plan to add a new animal to my collection-a green parakeet.

Recently, the animal I’ve been begging for is a kitten. Yes, we still have our cat, Socks. But now that our neighbors got an 8-week-old kitten, it’s been so hard to just watch them with their cat and not think, Man, if only I could have that cute furry thing. Just to have that kitty jump up on your lap, and lick your finger, and play with a string, and to teach to use the litter box, and…

The list just goes on and on! But I guess I’ll just have to settle for a dog, a cat, three turtles (tortoises, actually), six fish and an upcoming parakeet!

And while I’m on the subject of Murt-Sherm-Burt (as I like to call those slow and steady stooges), while we were in Colorado we went to the Colorado Springs mall. It happened to have a pet shop that had about six box turtles (tortoises, actually) and an expert on them.

We learned that Burt is the male of the group, and Murt and Sherm are the females. I thought it was the other way around…don’t ask why.

And then we learned that turtles do best if they’re inside (happy birthday to me, I get to have the turtles indoors… don’t ask my dad). I learned a lot more, but I forgot it.

What follows is a huge change in subjects.

At the beginning of summer, as you know, I decided to write for the Free Press. The original idea was to just write for the summer, and then stop when the school year rolled around. But I’m having way too much fun, so I guess you’ll be reading about me throughout the school year!

Don’t ask why.

Editor’s note: Actually, it’s OK to ask why. David likes to write and we like to publish what he writes. After this issue, David’s column will appear in the Free Press the first issue of every month. Every other week, his column will appear in the Free Press Extra, the revamped companion publication we launched last week. We think his column alone is well worth the Extra’s charter-subscription price of $12 a year. Don’t miss out.

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