I had a few pets when I was growing up. My dad had a fondness for small animals and every year he would attend the St. Martin's Day Festival on Labor Day weekend and return home with some small critter or another for my siblings and I. We had white mice, hamsters, a gerbil, rabbits and ducklings. The ducklings were definitely a favorite! We kept them in a box in my bedroom. My duck was named Oscar the Grouch after the Sesame Street puppet that lived in a garbage can and grumbled all the time. When our ducklings got too big to keep in our bedroom, my dad gave them to my aunt Monica because she lived on a farm. We found out later that they all became dinner for Monica's family. When I learned that sad news it was I who resembled Oscar the Grouch more than my pet duckling did!
My kids, on the other hand, have been pet deprived. We had goldfish for a short time when the three oldest boys were small. Three-year-old Joe thought his fish was getting tired so he took him out of the fishbowl and laid him on Justin's pillow to rest. It was an eternal rest.
But boys need a dog, don't they? And John, our oldest son, had been asking for a dog for quite a while so we finally took on an old yellow lab, Mel, from one of my co-workers who could no longer keep him. Mel was used to a nice quiet home where he was alone all day long. Entering into a household with five boisterous children proved to be quite stressful for the old boy. It was so stressful in fact, that we only had him for a month before he bit part of Jack's lip off and had to be put down. (Mel, not Jack, of course.)
After that we went for a few years without a pet until Mary won a major award. She won a raffle which allowed her to be the summer caregiver for her second grade classroom pet, Ruby, the guinea pig. Mary did such a good job of caring for Ruby that when she asked for a pet guinea pig of her own for her birthday, we couldn't say no. Enter Benny, named for Pope Benedict XVI, but also because it's fun to say Benny Bender. Unfortunately, Benny only lived for a month and we all sadly cried copious tears at our backyard funeral service before we replaced him with Daisy, who was blessed by Fr. Matthew Widder shortly after she came into our lives. The blessed pet has been happily thriving on love and green peppers for the past two years.
But apparently, a guinea pig isn't enough of a pet for teenage boy and last summer Joe came home from his maintenance job at our parish with a stow away bunny on his bike that he had found while working on the parish grounds. He wanted to keep it as a pet but wasn't sure that Paul and I would give him permission. So he placed it in a cardboard box with two carrots, covered it with some tissue paper and hid it under his bed. Then he left to hang out with his friends. A short time later I came home from work and was busy preparing supper for my family. Mary came downstairs upset because she found the bunny and she feared it might be dead. We all went to investigate and found the sweetest baby rabbit still living, but obviously not in appropriate surroundings. We took it outside and as we were deciding what to do with it, the bunny hopped right out of the box and through our neighbor's fence to freedom. Joe was brokenhearted to have lost his newfound pet but we knew that the wild rabbit really needed to be living in a natural habitat.
But now we have found another wild sort that we have brought into our home to keep as a pet. Last night Mary was outside enjoying a beautiful autumn evening when she discovered a most unusual creature. It looked like a leaf, blowing in the breeze, but it was actually a leaf bug. She is certainly exotic and interesting. A quick internet search told us that leaf bugs make great pets so we prepared a home for her in a mason jar with her favorite food, blackberry leaves, and named her Ivy.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would become attached to an insect. But already I am captivated by this fascinating creature, watching her lick the ends of her long, thin, delicate limbs and climb over the sticks to reach the net on the top of the jar where she hangs upside down. I marvel at our God and how wondrously fantastic he has pieced together this entire world of creatures that crawl, swim, fly, hop and walk. Life is beautiful and amazing, every little bit of it. How blessed we are to enjoy it and then give thanks and praise to the Creator of all that exists!
(The pictures in this post are from the public domain on the internet-our pictures of Ivy didn't turn out very well. Time for a new camera perhaps? But isn't it a cool looking bug?)