We hit up the pet store today. Not because we were looking for a new pet, but because it’s one of Ruby’s favorite things to do. Used to be one of Zac’s things, too, before he got too old for such pastimes.
I picked her up after school (early release because of conferences). We braved the drizzle and trekked over to the house of expectant pets. We ogled the bunnies, or rabbits if you prefer, first. They skittered around in their metal tub, all fuzzy brown and gray fur. One snoozed with its eyes open, peeking from the doorway of its hot pink castle.
Next to that was a small schnauzer of some kind. He or she was all alone in his tub. He looked up hopefully from his nest of shredded paper, black and white face hopeful. He was no bigger than a minute. I felt for him, lonely and wanting a home. But I knew Jonathon would probably divorce me if I returned with another pet.
We moved past the parakeets and lovebirds, all like misplaced rays of a pastel sunrise. We stopped again at the kittens. I’ll give Ruby one thing: she’s consistently drawn to mammals. The two kittens slept stacked on top of each other, a picture of fuzzy contentment. An orange tabby, probably 10 weeks old was under a tiny black kitten, probably 6 weeks old. Truly, the black kitten looked too young to be away from its mama. Or possibly the black kitten was a runt. I have a special place in my heart for runts. It opened its eyes and mewed piteously, almost like a peeping bird. We took turns admiring the kittens, their eyes never leaving our wiggling fingers petting them through the wire cage.
We strolled back to the fish and amphibians and puppies. Hey, I don’t organize the store. The puppies recently moved behind a sliding glass door, again within those huge metal tubs. Several small puppies filled each of the four tubs – chihuahuas, terriers, dachshunds and greyhounds. They all slept save the terriers. Again, those brown eyes with invisible eyebrows lifted with longing eyed me. “Looking for me?” I couldn’t watch for long, my heart starting to soften again.
The fish held Ruby’s interest briefly, their exotic colors iridescent as they swished around. The tortoises and lizards we watched a little longer. Why is that lizard in the corner, Mommy? He’s in a timeout, I replied. Bad lizard! No tarantulas this time, thank goodness. Lots of rats, however.
Ruby particularly wanted to adopt a newborn rat or mouse, all pink skin, hairless and defenseless. Wouldn’t Rex and Chloe, our ever-hungry kitties love that. Mommy said no way. Bad Mommy!
We spent quite a bit of time looking at the aquarium filled with small brown domestic mice. A small group in the back corner slept in a haphazard pile. Towards the middle of the cage stood a purple exercise wheel. The mice jumped on that. They spun it, they climbed on top of it and slipped off when it spun. They quickly got up and jumped on again, cramming into the wire structure. Ruby laughed and laughed. It was like a mouse circus. Then suddenly, all the mice left the wheel. One lone mouse jumped on it. He ran around inside the wheel, all the way around, faster and faster. He could not get it to move. His weight alone, all 2 ounces of it, was too light. He needed a buddy. Another mouse jumped into the wheel. They ran together in tandem, stride for stride. The wheel turned, creaking its rhythmic protest . Then the other mice piled on.
Some things can only be accomplished with the help of others. Those things are also more fun when done with others. It’s okay to need others. In fact, it’s important to admit it. None of those mice were fat because they enjoyed the wheel and shared the load of spinning it. Okay, possibly because they didn’t quite get enough to eat, but that’s another issue. They liked the wheel, the joy of exertion needed to twirl it and understood in their vermin brains that teamwork got it done.
It’s not good for us to be alone. We all need to be “adopted” somewhere, be a part of something else. We just might find out it can be fun, too. Take a group exercise class. Check out a church. Volunteer somewhere. You could be a part of something wonderful.