Pet Deception: Have You Done It?

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Pet Deception: Secretly replacing a child’s dead pet without child’s knowledge.

A couple months ago we took Nicholas to the pet shop to look at potential small animals. After spending a great deal of time looking at all the gerbils, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits, Nicholas announced the he was certain he wanted goldfish. He even picked out the aquarium he wanted and attempted to lift the box to carry it to the cashier.

goldfishHubby gave in and three days later we got our first goldfish -- a lovely golden yellow fish -- that Nicholas named Thomas.

About a week later we got fish number two, a rosy goldfish that Nicholas let me name Rosie. Rosie was the first to die about ten days after we’d brought her home. Nicholas was upset, complete with tears. We removed Rosie from the tank, wrapped her in some paper towels and a sheet of newspaper, and then slipped her into a box Nicholas had decorated for her with her name on it. As Nicholas carried Rosie downstairs in her box, he talked to her, telling her that he was taking her downstairs and I lost it -- my eyes filled with tears. Hubby helped Nicholas bury Rosie in the back garden while I pulled myself back together. Only later did Hubby share with me that Nicholas had asked him if Rosie had enough water in her box.

A couple of days later we returned to the pet store and we brought home another goldfish, this one was black and white with a bit of red. Nicholas named it Dyron initially, but changed Dyron to Dyson a day later when he realized he’d misremembered what Hubby had wanted to call his fish. Dyson was a quick lively little fish and all was well for awhile.

Then last week, the filter in their tank died sometime in the night. Thomas quickly perished. We told Nicholas it wasn’t his fault, that the filter had stopped working and caused Thomas’ demise. The boy got teary eyed, said a quick goodbye to Thomas and flushed him away. That night we went and bought a new, bigger fish tank with a much better filter.

Dyson seemed to like his new home well enough, but he still seemed stressed. On Saturday Hubby bought another goldfish, just like Dyson, but slightly larger to keep him company. When Nicholas got back from a trip to the theatre with his Nan, he looked at his fish tank and told me that Dyson had got big, completely missing that this slightly bigger fish was new. I pointed out to him that Dyson was still in the tank. Nicholas named the new fish Rocky. Dyson and Rocky swam about happily chasing each other and all was good in the aquarium world.

Monday morning Dyson was dead. We decided to distract Nicholas with pancakes and cartoons while Hubby quickly scooped Dyson out of the tank and flushed him away. While Nicholas was at school, I cleaned the aquarium and visited two pet stores in order to find a fish that looked as much like Dyson as possible. By the time I picked Nicholas up from school, the replacement Dyson was happily chasing Rocky about the tank.

Although Hubby and I can tell the difference between the replacement Dyson and the original, Nicholas has yet to notice a thing. I’m wondering how long this will last and what the fallout will be of our pet deception. Does your house have any pet deception tales to share?

Photo Credit: protographer23.

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