Monday, March 17, 2008

open for suggestions

My daughter is one of those children who, if given the opportunity, would have her own frickin' Noah's Ark. She, who plans on being a Zoo Keeper when she grows up, asks on a daily basis for a FishBabyRottweilerGerbilBabyCornSnakeKittenGuineaPigBunnyBabyCorgieFerretHamsterBoaConstrictorBabyHairlessChihuahua. And that's just before breakfast. Seriously, it wears. my. ass. out. This kid LOVES animals. She has 3 (!) of her own cats at daddy's house. At our house we have Moby (the best dog ever) and 1 Beta fish. Soon we will be taking on her Nana's 30 gallon fish-tank which I will be staying far far away from. BUT she wants her own, cuddly animal that she can take care of herself and that would, in a perfect world, sleep with her. In her own bed. ahem.

More than anything, she wants a puppy of her own. But regardless of how responsible she is with her pets, the burden of training said puppy would fall mainly on David (because if Daisy was any indication of my dog-training abilities, well, I'll stay out of this one...). David is a PRO at training dogs, but after owning up to TWELVE dogs when he lived in Alaska, he needs (and deserves) a break for year or two. Also, he is allergic to cats. My sister just got the most adorable bunny, but little does she know that soon, Count Bunnicula will take over her house and nibble its way through every power-cord, rug and article of clothing in its path. So. That leaves us with the Hamster/Gerbil/Guinea Pig option which I hate because of the whole cage thing. Cages, to me, are cruel. Plus they STINK.

Anyone have any brilliant small/cuddly/non-stinky suggestions for a pet-loving 7 year old?? And anyone who mentions the word ferret wins an all-expenses-paid one-way ticket to Hell. NO FERRETS.

20 comments:

jpogue said...

Ok, I googled best pets for kids, which I'm sure you've done too, and hands down, a guinea pig is preferred for small kids. So there you have it, get a guinea pig.

Blank Girl said...

I was going to suggest the same thing. It may not sleep with her but it's cute and fun to play with. Plus it has a shorter shelf life. :)

Linda, aka "Lala" said...

Having raised my own version of Ellie Mae Clampet, let me comment on this one as we've had all the pets. (And it sucks when the short lived ones die!)

Guinea Pigs do require a cage. And they do gnaw and chew. Cleaning the cage should be her responsibility, but she will need help, the trays spill easily. Rats are smarter and more fun than guinea pigs, and they actually return the affection, especially if you get a baby from a breeder, not an adult from a pet store. Cage and chewing still apply. But I'd go for a rat over a guinea pig. Rabbit could be the same, the chewing could be controled as long as the animal was kept in a cage.
But the rat would be the most affectionate.
None of these will be as good as a dog, but it might passify her for a year or two, until David could handle having a puppy to train.

Jenna Z said...

My suggestion (from someone who, like Linda, has had every pet imaginable! Including mules, sheep, lovebirds, dogs, cats, chickens, geese, quail, raised show rabbits and cavies (guinea pigs), iguanas, sand skinks, catfish, goldfish, pond fish, ferrets, raccoons, an arctic fox and a leech.):

Guinea pig, all the way! Guinea pigs make adorable noises and most are good at cuddling. Rabbits, gerbils and hamsters are not good for small children. Rabbits do NOT like to cuddle, and can bite HARD and thump with their giant back feet. Temperament also varies GREATLY between rabbit breeds. We raised several breeds over the years to show in ARBA shows and cute little Netherland Dwarfs are feisty and mean! Rex's are larger but calmer. Mini lops are quick and can nip and run! Gerbils and hamsters are fast and tiny so can be hard to handle. Guinea pigs are slow-ish, sedate and large enough to get a grip on without squishing their eyes out! Guinea pigs have adorable mouths! And soft little ears and come in several different coat types, short, long, spiky, you name it!

I recommend:
Spending less money and making your guinea pig a fantastic cage a la this website: http://www.guineapigcages.com/cubes.htm
They are so simple and I would be glad to offer any assistance I could give over the interwebs. These cages are awesome, way bigger than store-bought cages and easy to clean! And with two guinea pigs, I cleaned my 2x5 cage once a week and never smelled a thing.

Adopting a pig from your local humane society or guinea pig rescue group instead of buying one from the pet store. I know our local group (Critter Coral) always has FAR too many guinea pigs that were impulse buys or their owner no longer wanted to take care of them.

Make a cuddle sack for easy transportation and cuddling. It's just a lined fabric bag and some guinea pigs like them left in their cage for sleeping. I mainly used them to assist little kids in holding the pigs since they can hold the pig-in-sack in their laps and pet the pig inside. Pig feels safe and secure, little person feels responsible and doesn't have to deal with any squirming that might occur.

All that said, if you are going to give in and get a dog/puppy in a few years, I might suggest you just hold off because no matter how much she loves the pig now, once a dog enters the picture it will be longer and longer between times when the pig gets attention and longer and longer between when the cage gets cleaned, stink builds up, no one wants the pig and then it either waits out it's years lonely and alone or it gets passed to someone else and that's sad. So if the ultimate plan is to get a dog, maybe you could just visit breeders/dog shows/volunteer at a shelter/research breeds/etc. until you think she's ready in an effort to hold it off a bit longer. I can definitely recommend a corgi for an older child! Corgis are excellent dogs, smart, friendly (usually), eager to learn, and great with older kids but if you've got kids younger then your daughter at the house regularly, I'd steer clear as they can be a little pushy and rough with little ones. And of course, it depends on the specific dog whether they like kids at all. Ours doesn't like any kids, he thinks they are too unpredictable and quick to grab and tease.

kate said...

Heather: "shorter shelf life"!! ha!!!

Lala: Rat=Ferret. Reasonable or not, I have a thing against both Ferrets and Rats. To me, they are ugly and gross and smelly and weird and I can't get past that stigma. Eeewwww. Just no.

Jenna z, wow!! Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Thanks so much for the awesome information about GPigs and rabbits etc. Very good to know. If I thought I could hold her off for a year or two until we could get a puppy, I would. But that isn't going to work with this kiddo. She's nothing if not tenacious. I will make sure that said GP doesn't get ignored once we get a pup. I really, really have a thing against animals in cages, so the GP idea goes against my morals anyway....if we do get one, he/she is going to be loved and cared for until it's dying day. (or until it's shelf-life expires, Heather!)

Jacki said...

my most favorite childhood pet... our pot belly pig, Hampton! I loved him... the best pet ever and he didnt have to go in a cage.

Mom, dig around and see if you can post a pic to show Kate. Back me up here, he was a great pet, right?!

kate said...

Jacki, THAT'S ENOUGH OUT OF YOU. We are NOT getting a pot-bellied pig. Man, I should've known better than to ask my family for pet advice!! :)

MP said...

Webkinz...she can even have a Gorilla that way..and they don't poop or eat!!

OK..not what you were looking for but all the other brilliant answers were taken.

kate said...

Oh Mary Pat, if only it were that easy!!

Dee said...

All I can say is : NO RATS, NO RATS, NO RATS. That is just too disgusting ! Glad you are not even remotely considering it.

Linda, aka "Lala" said...

I thought that about rats too, until Ellie Mae, oops, I mean Andrea, babysat a pair of them for 3 weeks. They were so sweet, and they were smart. They new their names and went back to their litter box inside their cage to poop.

But then again, I'm the one that picks up snakes out of the yard and turns them loose over the fence so they don't get hit by the lawn mower and killed.

kate said...

yeah, aka F.R.E.A.K.



although truth be told, I'd do the same thing. I've taught Anna to set spiders free when we find them in the house...but that doesn't mean I want to keep them as PETS.

Berlinswhimsy said...

I think we have kindred spirits in our daughters! Oh my, I cannot even relate how many pets my daughter CONSTANTLY asks for!! Our only hope of consoling her was the recent sign-up to be a volunteer at The Humane Society but with one very important caveat---no pets come home with us! So for FIVE HOURS each week she tends to the animals there.

Okay, that doesn't help your situation. I have No suggestions. I'm in the same boat with three cats and three dogs... Nuf said.

Cami said...

Oops, I was going to suggest the "f"- word, but I'll try to keep my mouth shut! We got two of them at Christmas-time and they've been amazing pets. For your requirements, I'd suggest a rat first, if possible, and a guinea pig second. We have a houseful of fur ourselves - 3 dogs, 5 cats, 2 ferrets and a guinea pig.

kate said...

Amber, I love the idea of volunteering at a shelter! That is a great idea.

Cami, you have rabbits too, don't you? I bow down to your ability to care for that many animals.

So the consensous seems to be Guinea Pig. Sigh. I so wished I could avoid the cage thing...

MP said...

hey..come over to my blog and get some new bling...

Biddy said...

my mom had a friend with a pet skunk...(they had his sprayer removed)

or you could get a goat. you'll never have to mow again...and you'll cut down on the amount of trash you send to the landfill :-)

David said...

I like the shelter idea too. Or a rat. We can name him Willard.

thordora said...

Rats are the bestest! I used to keep rats, and they really are just like little kitties. They can be stinky, but staying on top of the cage cleaning keeps that in check.

I know lots of people who are creeped out by them, but honestly, they make GREAT pets-mine never nipped (unless I had food on my hand, and then it made sense) they played, they loved being out and about with me, and each had their own little personality.

Gets boys. The girls go loopy sometimes.

And there is a VAST difference between a fancy rat and a sewer rat. Fancy rats are cute for starters.

thordora said...

oh, and they give kisses. Cutest thing EVAH!

I miss my ratties. :(