When I was a kid, we had a St. Bernard. His name was Spencer, and he was awesome. For most of my life, my goal was to get to a place where I would be able to house (and afford to feed) a dog that large. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that will ever be possible. My priorities have gone other directions since then, and maintaining an animal of that size would be difficult. Therefore, I’ve had to reassess what my dream pet would be.
For Princess’ 4th birthday, we decided that we would get her a pet. At first, I was thinking something along the lines of a turtle or hamster. We did a little research into them and discovered that those animals are better for kids that are slightly older. I started reading about which pets would be the best for her, and I kept finding the same animal recommended over and over: a rat.
This blew my mind. I knew that people kept rats as pets, but I always thought of them as rather filthy. I’m sure plenty of you had the same reaction when you read the above paragraph. Who on earth would get their 4 year old daughter a rat?
They were so highly recommended, however, that I had to look into them. I found out that they are actually very intelligent. They are smart enough that you can let them roam around, and they’ll come to their name. You can teach them tricks, and they’ll sit on your shoulder to watch TV. They’re also incredibly clean animals that take care of themselves pretty well. I finally decided that I would have to go to a pet store and see these things for myself.
When the pet store attendant got one out of the cage and handed it to me, I immediately fell in love. She (it was a female) looked up at me and twitched her nose. She then curled up in my elbow and looked totally happy. I showed it to my wife, and she even liked her (I later showed one to my mom, and I thought I was going to have to chase her down with the car to catch her). It was decided. My new dream was to own a pet rat. His or her name shall be Dacotah (I’m from North Dakota, but I like that spelling better. Plus, you could go girl or boy with it.). As things turn out, however, that may be a pipe dream as well.
We weren’t actually looking for a pet for me. It was Princess’ birthday. After much deliberation, we decided that a puppy would be more appropriate. We went to the SPCA and found the perfect dog for her. She was young enough that we wouldn’t have to explain the circle of life anytime soon. She was very cute and cuddly. She was also a small breed, and the SPCA had labeled her as a chihuahua mix. We brought our own dog, an English Pointer (also a rescue) in to make sure they got along. They did, so it was into the car with our newest family member, Gracie.
Here’s the reason that I will not own a pet rat in the foreseeable future. It turns out that Gracie isn’t really a chihuahua mix. She actually outgrew chihuahua size pretty quickly after we got her (although, not by too much). We’re now about 95% sure that she’s mostly rat terrier. Now, I’m not a dog breeding historian of any type, but it doesn’t take a genius in the field to figure out how the rat terrier got its name. I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t because they love to cuddle with rats around the fire while listening to classical music. I’m confident that if I brought a rat home, there would be an incident within about 20 minutes that would double what I’ll probably already pay in therapy bills for the kids.
Therefore, I sit without a pet. My first dream was too big, and now my second is too small. It’s alright, Dacotah. One day, you’ll be mine.