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Terri Mudd: Family pets have come in all shapes and sizes

There’s a fascination about living creatures. Dogs, cats, turtles, an aquarium full of exotic fish or a single gold fish – any one of these and more seem to fascinate those of us who think we own the Earth.

As newlyweds, my husband and I had goldfish – Juan Quixote and Dulcinea – carnival prizes won when I was in college. They followed me around the United States and settled with me in Oklahoma many years ago, and surprised me by living a long time.

The goldfish were followed by a number of cats, loved because of the mouse infestation in the neighboring fields.

Later, we moved to New York and decided that children were far preferable to pets. But with children, eventually came a series of pets. Cats seemed the least troublesome at first. One, a Siamese named Tobermory, made her home with us until my husband, no pet lover, showed signs of allergies. After Toby there were fish, birds and other innocuous creatures.

When the hamster arrived, we had our first taste of a mini-pet with personality. A hamster looks like a small, furry rodent, but put it in a toy car on the linoleum and stand back. The entire family was entertained by this little creature in his jolly yellow convertible tearing around the kitchen floor. Once or twice he escaped his cage or car. With some unease, we had to search behind and under furniture, always just a little afraid we would not find him. But he always came out of hiding in order to eat.

Eventually we succumbed to the king of the hearth, a delightful, smart and faithful dog. But even with the reigning monarch around, the sight of two mutant frogs in Florida was too much. I was looking for a homecoming gift that would thrill my grandson. Before me were miniature aquarium-like containers holding tiny creatures, about the size of my thumb, with four spindly legs spreading out in all directions. The cost was reasonable.

The critters are now floating in their container on the dining room table. Each morning, every family member checks them to be sure they are still with us. Being so very tiny, they seem fragile. However, between South Carolina and Buffalo we encountered freezing weather and they, stashed in the car, with a towel wrapped around the mini aquarium for warmth, did not complain. That amazing quality puts them very high on a pet-preference list.

They get fed about once a week, and briefly become very active. But for days they hardly move. Although we are told they need air, and rise to the top of the water level to breathe, we only occasionally see them in action.

Feeding consists of food that came with the animals in a small transparent envelope, said to be a year’s supply. We handle their banquets with a tweezer. They are fed two to three single crumbs every fourth or fifth day. A single sprig of bamboo is said to maintain the overall balance of nature in the water. The rocklike substance on the bottom of the container cleanses the water. And the container has shown no signs of accumulating foreign substance in the three months we’ve had our visitors.

As we follow their pattern of activity, we find that some days they sleep for most of the sighting time. Other days they are all over their container and each other. These wee additions to our household are interesting, almost care-free, definite conversation pieces and a lot of fun.