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Pets or Pests?

Faigy Peritzman

Your children are begging and pleading for a kitten (or hamster, puppy, or rabbit), promising to be the best pet parents ever. Should you succumb to their demands? Or are they more trouble than they’re worth? The perks and problems of owning a pet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

parrot“Oh Mommy! They’re sooo cute!”

I sighed and looked back into the box. They were cute. The little chicks, covered with yellow fluff, were industriously pecking away at the seeds in their box. One of my sons leaned in and stroked a downy back. “See! He likes me already!” And then came the petition: “Please oh please can we buy them all?”

Summer vacation had just started. I envisioned my boys industriously building a chicken coop, watering, feeding … and leaving me in peace.

“All right. We’ll take four,” I said, capitulating against my better judgment. “But remember, you’re in charge of them.”

Amidst the cheers of glee, my stipulation went unheard. As I watched my boys enthusiastically heft the carton of chicks to the car, a little voice inside my head warned, You’re going to regret this.

Sure enough, within days the visitors had lost their novelty. Chicken feathers drifted through the kitchen window and, as the afternoon heat rose, so did the odor from the improvised chicken coop.

“Could someone clean out the coop?” I demanded.

“It’s not my turn!” the bickering started.

By the time the chicks were a week old, their fluffy feathers were gone. They had morphed into decidedly uncute pets with protruding beaks and haunting beady eyes that followed me while I (yes, I) cleaned their living quarters. Against vehement protests, I called my friend who lives on a moshav and made arrangements to bring the chickens there.

“They’re going to kill them! Shecht them!” screeched my son. “You can’t kill pets. They’re ours!”

“Pets are only yours if you take responsibility for them. In this case, I became responsible so I am deciding how to care for them.”

Later that night, as I tucked my four-year-old into bed, he pitifully bemoaned the chicken’s fate and insisted that he’d never eat schnitzel again.

So much for a summer’s worth of fun.


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