Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gus and Bolt: the shortest lived pets, ever

As soon as we drove away from Wilco, a local farm store, I uttered these words:

"Babe. What did we just do?"

Though the question was rhetorical, the reality was that my husband and I, after nearly three years of marriage, had purchased our first pets. Two very adorable, but very young, ducklings.

Yep. Ducklings. A black one for him and a cute little brown one for me.

Um. What?!

We had been at the farm store looking at rain barrels. In my husband's ever present clever manner he wanted (and still wants) to create a rain catch barrel in order to water our back porch container garden that we will inevitably plant this spring. We had a great garden last year (giant tomato plants, lettuce, and even some cucumbers) but it was annoying to water because our apartment was not fitted with an outdoor hose spigot. So we made six or seven trips back and forth from the kitchen sink with a watering can, twice a day. Instead of that experience repeated, the hubs would like to make a catch basin that will use gravity to ensure proper water pressure through an attached hose, which will then water the veggies. Great. Lets go to Wilco.

Well, who knows what is at farm stores in the spring? Yes, that is right. Chicks, ducklings and poults (baby turkeys). And who knows how adorable these little animals are? Me. I know. They are so stinking cute that I returned to the store three hours after our initial visit and we picked out two, even while knowing that the hubs and I live in a one bedroom apartment with a 5ft by 10ft patio that doesn't even have a hose spigot anywhere near it.

That's how cute these little buggers are. See? I'm not insane. They're adorable.

But what I failed to heed was that part of myself that was logical and looked at my living situation, my current pet situation (which was none) and my lifestyle. If I had stopped and thought logically about those three things alone, I would not have purchased who became Gus and Bolt. But I didn't listen to logic. For one of the few times in my life, I let my childish emotions make a decision for me.

Gus (the brown one) and Bolt (the black runner) out on our patio. It's tiny, and not suitable for ducks of any age.

And it was a mistake. A big one... But also an incredibly raw learning experience. Which is why I am writing about it. Let me explain.

We got the new ducklings home and filled our spare laundry tub up a few inches with the bedding pellets we had purchased at Wilco. We put in the water dispenser, a dish of food, and the ducklings.

"Welcome to your new tub of a home guys! Hope you like it."

They didn't. They chirped and cried and freaked out for what seemed like hours.

Again, these words:
"What did we just do?"

And then guess what we did? The hubs went to watch some UFC fights at a friend's house and I went to an event at the local high school. We left our brand new pets to themselves. (I felt like an awful owner, for this, if you couldn't tell). Sure they were still alive when we returned, but my stress level was already higher than it had been just a few hours before that fateful purchase.

I'm sorry to say the ducklings only lasted 48 hours at our house. After two sleepless nights and an epic tension headache, we realized (and finally admitted to each other) that it was a bad idea. All was not lost, as my brother is a veritable hero when it comes to animals (has pets already, lives in a place suitable for animals, is a vet technician by trade, and is generally a rock star when it comes to all kinds of creatures) and he graciously took Gus and Bolt in. We drove them down to his house, with all their trappings, including a brooding box, and my little brother was glad to have them. I know they will be well taken care of. And I will miss their chirps and waddles, but not the stress.

So here are the bullet points of what this experience taught me in just two short days:

  •  I care a lot about the things I take responsibility for, and do not want to fail. Even if I make myself sick in the process, I will make sure everything is ok.
  •  I live an active, on-the-go lifestyle. And I love it that way.
  •  While still incredibly cute, ducklings take a lot of effort.
  •  My husband is willing to try anything, if he thinks it will make me happy. 
  •  I cannot exploit this amazing attribute of his personality, no matter what.
  •  At some point, I do want to have chickens and ducks, but when we're in a better home to host them.
  •  My husband is a softy, and I tend to worry. A lot. 
  •  I still care a lot about what people think of my life and the way I live it.

This last point is the biggest one Gus and Bolt taught me.

In the grand scheme of things, who cares if I buy two ducklings? What does it matter in the universe if I have a pet? It doesn't matter. And yet, somehow I wanted, and in a way needed, the people I shared this with to approve and support me. Some did. But some did not. And the ones who doubted inevitably made me doubt myself. This is something I do not want to experience again. I believe that my husband is the only human I truly have to stand in agreement with in my life, and yet something inside me still desires the approval of friends, family, coworkers, and even acquaintances.

I could go into how social media has created an unnatural platform for our lives to be on display, or how people should judge other people's lives less. But I won't. All I know is that deep things were revealed through two very unlikely little creatures, and if that was all that this experience was about, that's ok with me.

Plus, nothing quite compares to being snuggled by baby ducklings. They're unexplainably precious.

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