I haven’t felt much like posting for the past few days.
Some of you may know that I have several pet goldfish.
I have had fish as pets for many years and have been surprised to learn what intelligent creatures they are.
The keen aquarist becomes as attached to his fish as a dog owner does to his dog, or as a cat lover does to his cat.
On Thursday I had to euthanise one of my dear little fantails – the cheeky, chubby, always jolly, Squirt.
Squirt had a terminal illness and the vet advised me to put him down. Trouble is due to the logistics of moving tanks of water around, vets will recommend that fish owners perform the deed themselves. At home.
She gave me an anaesthetic. A tiny bottle. Only two drops of it were needed to kill him.
It was a gruesome task. I had to remove Squirt from his tank and put him in a plastic container filled with water. Then I had to add the anaesthetic. I had to watch the whole thing in case he began thrashing about, in which case I had to add more of the anaesthetic. I was in tears as I did it – he looked up at me just before I added the drops and wiggled his little tail as if to say I know. It’s OK.
I added the drops and two seconds later he was dead. Floating upside down. Just like that.
It’s hard to take the life of a pet even if it is just a goldfish. I was attached to my dear Squirt. He was a funny little guy. He loved shelled peas and dried brine shrimp. He used to surf in the bubble pipe. He had eyes like a hawk, as soon as you walked into the room he would swim to the front of the tank and wait for you to come over. It was sad going back to his tank after he was gone and seeing his two tankmates, Fatty and Jerry, looking around for him. Fish bond quite closely and really notice when one of the school has gone. They have been subdued for days, swimming slowly, searching every corner of the tank for their old friend.
It made me realise that animal grief is much like human grief. Maybe we are all more closely connected than we think.