Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Hermit Crab

We have two dogs. They are loyal companions. Playful. Furry. Loving. They are all the pet three people could need. Julia and I talk about this a lot. She agrees with me. Mostly. Except for when she thinks of some other animal she could get in an attempt to turn our house into a menagerie.

We had fish once. Or maybe it was more like three times. Fish are hard to keep alive, except for the guppies we had that kept reproducing. Those things wouldn't die and my excitement over liveborn babies was soon replaced with exhaustion caused by figuring out which ones wanted to eat each other and how do you feed things that are hardly visible to the naked eye?

I hit my breaking point one night and flushed all of the guppies. It wasn't a great moment for me. I recall saying something like, "you think you're tough?" to the orange male guppy that had eaten my favorite tiny baby fish, Ariel.

After that incident, the Great Flushing of 2012, I made a new house rule: no more pets. Can I get a hamster? gerbil? turtle? The answer has been "no, you have dogs." And "mommy, can't handle keeping any more things alive in this house."

So I'm not exactly sure how the hermit crab happened. I remember seeing them at the mall in the Petland store where we go to look at the sad puppies.

"Can I get a hermit crab?" she asked.
I said, "no, you have dogs."

The conversation didn't end that easily. She pushed it and I remember saying, "you get hermit crabs from the beach when you're on vacation, not from the mall." I should have heard the gears turning in her mind at that moment, but I was too busy thinking I'd convinced her of something. Maybe that hermit crabs are a dumb pet, nothing like a loving, wiggly, furry dog. Or perhaps I had a moment of amnesia and deluded myself into thinking mine was a child that might forget about hermit crabs by the time we were on a beach vacation.

She didn't forget and it became a thing. "Mom said I can get a hermit crab at the beach," Julia reported to her dad.

I'm still not sure I ever said that.

Hermes is actually behind the sponge in this picture. Oh forget it! I could tell you he's anywhere. The dude
never comes out of his shell and could easily be replaced with a pet rock.
Julia picked her hermit crab from the Wings store on Wrightsville Beach. She named him Hermes and he did exactly nothing for two straight weeks. In our condo, on the drive home, situated on a child-sized rocking chair in Julia's room... Nothing!

I had convinced myself that Hermes' well being was none of my concern. Julia would take care of it (or not) and I would just have to dispose of the carcass in advance of any smell issues. Simple.

Except I couldn't handle it. Should he really be doing absolutely nothing like that? Is he okay?

I bought him a container of gloop from the Petland in an effort to keep him well hydrated. A few days after rearranging the cage to accommodate the gloop, Hermes did something! He spent two whole days face down in the gloop.

Then, on the third day post-gloop, Hermes came out of his shell. It was disgusting, but holy cow, he did something! For a 12-hour period, Hermes was interesting.

What was he going to do next? Was he moving to that bigger shell? Is he okay? Hermes? ....Hermes?

He was not okay, or maybe now he's more okay than he's ever been. At any rate, Hermes is now slurping up the big blue gloop pile in the sky.

"I can go to the mall and get another one!" Julia announced after her poor mother completed the nasty task of extricating his greyish and slightly stinky carcass from the shell.
"I think if you just leave the empty shell in the cage we could just pretend he's still there," I said.

She doesn't like that idea. I think I'll make her do the shell cleaning next time.