The Fish Who Came to Dinner

So there I was, minding my own business, one frosty night just after Christmas.  My kids and I were cozily watching a movie from among the many DVD’s we exchanged as gifts this year, and we were having a dandy time at that.  When suddenly, what should appear at my doorstep?DSCN6843

A mysterious stranger in the form of a goldfish in a bowl, seeking refuge from the darkness of the night.

Now, before you ask, what’s the big deal with a goldfish appearing at my door late at night, I will tell you: I know nothing of the care and feeding of goldfish. I never had a pet fish in my life, though once, when my son was but a boy, I got him a turtle, followed by a lizard, and both perished within days of being under my care.  Frankly, I just couldn’t keep up with the demand for live crickets and such.

But, back to the fish.  It seemed, my neighbor was heading out of town that very evening, and had forgotten to make plans for the fish while away. Since we were the only ones home at the time, lo and behold, it fell upon us to take the fish in.

Much to my horror, for ten days this critter has invaded our home, and, if truth be told, I feel, ahem, like a fish out of water. What if the fish dies on my watch? I’ve heard it said, you can kill a fish simply by overfeeding it. For all I know, looking at it sideways will cause it to pass out. I’m doomed!

And, why oh why, did I forget to ask my neighbor for the name of said fish? I don’t even know its sex! Shall I call it Jack or simply Jill? Or, should I take a page from Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who descends from royalty, and refer to the fish as Lady Guinevere? Don’t even ask.

Ten days! This was supposed to be my holiday, which I was using to spend time with my son and my daughter, and catching up on all sorts of activities, like organizing the closets, baking, reading, and doing pretty much as I please when I please.

In other words, I had other fish to fry. But now, I have to worry about just one fish and making sure it stays alive for at least 10 days.  After all, I don’t want any animal welfare groups to come after me.

Should that happen, one would hope that Henry would vouch for me in a pinch, but, alas, with Henry, you just never know. When push comes to shove, if the police were called in to investigate the mysterious demise of a certain goldfish, Henry would probably feign silence at first, and act as if he didn’t understand the language at all.

Perhaps, after the detective’s persistent queries, he might just say,  “Is Cook a friend to animals? Why, I wouldn’t know. I did see her once do something horrid to a spider, and then there was the time she forgot to give me my dinner, so you decide.”

And, that would be enough for the detective to surmise foul play and take me in, handcuffs and all.

It’s been three days now. Thankfully, Jack/Jill is still alive and we are all holding our breath that it stays so. Even Henry, who has little faith in my fish-caretaking abilities, sighs in relief whenever he passes the bowl and sees the fish still frolicking about.

“All’s well! Seven o’clock and Lady Guinevere is still kicking,” Henry exclaims loudly.

Seven more days. And yet, with each passing one, the water in the goldfish bowl seems to get a touch murkier and I can’t help but wonder, who’s going to clean that bowl out? Will Lady Guinevere (aka, Jack/Jill) be blinded by the dense gunk within? Should I do my best to procure a fish tank and all those fancy supplies that are used to keep the tank clean? And, while I’m at it, does Lady Guinevere need a Sir Lancelot for companionship?

Oh dear. I’m fretting so about this one-inch fish, and praying it survives life in my abode. Oh dear!

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had to care for someone else’s pet, without a clue as to what to do?

Well, that’s my fish tale. Any advice is most welcome. In the meantime,

Happy New Year, friends!

If you have a moment, please check out the results of my Fifty/Fifty Challenge!

42 thoughts on “The Fish Who Came to Dinner

  1. Monica, how I love Saturdays because they allow me to catch up on my blog reading! And catch up with your blog I must! I wonder what happened to this little fish you were in charge of? Please tell me he or she survived its sojourn in your abode! ha! When my children were little, we had a tiny beta fish named Nino. He lasted six months! I smiled at this post because it brought to mind all the stressing over, will it be alive when we wake up tomorrow? The hardest part, when the fatal day arrived, was telling the Son and the Daughter that little Nino had run off to live in the ocean! ::)

    • Bella, thankfully, the little fish survived. Only, my neighbor forgot to pick it up when they returned from their trip. So I ended up having it for an extra week! Oh the pressure of it all!! Taking care of these little critters is a lot harder than taking care of a dog–even if he is royalty. I’m just glad that all’s well that ended well.

  2. I had a fish once. I also had cats. Found the cat up to her armpits in the fishbowl. End of story.

    Fortunately, it wasn’t someone else’s fish 8).

    Happy new year!

  3. Sorry Monica, for I have no advice to offer as we could not keep even a snail alive in a goldfish bowl for more than 24 hours. Best of luck and Happy New Years!

  4. Oh, dear . . . so much responsibility 😉 And isn’t this just the kind of thing to happen while you’re in that ‘limbo land’ where daily matters are cast aside in the greater interest of letting what really matters (time with your daughter and son) take over? Seriously, you do delightful justice to that goldfish that appeared at your door. Thank you for making me smile . . . .and a very happy, creative New Year to you as well.

    • Deborah, Here’s to a happy new year for you and your family. Thank you for understanding. The fish has been here for nearly a week and it hasn’t been so bad. A couple of times we nearly forgot to feed him/her, but in each case one of us came through and remembered. It’s always a wonderful surprise to take a peek and see that the fish is still alive. Whew!

  5. Happy New Year Monica, as well as to your temporary house guest! The only experience I’ve had petsitting is for my daughter’s friend. She left my daughter, in our house, to care for her adorable tiny puppy, with a gargantuan macho name that didn’t fit its size at all. So I decided to rename the puppy Hamlet, which was much more fitting to the wee little thing. Needless to say, her friend wasn’t too thrilled with me.

  6. Happy New Year, Monica! We have a red beta fish named Strawberry, and to this day every time I walk past his tank I toss up a little prayer to the fishy gods asking that he survives another day in our house. Fish seem a lot more complicated than dogs. Just ask our other beta fish, Blueberry, who lasted little more than a year. Wish I had some advice, but alas…

    • Happy New Year, Becky. Love the name of your beta fish. Strawberry sounds perfect. Glad you understand and know my pain. So far, though, so good. Lady Guinevere is still thriving! Just a few more days…

  7. Not much help here, I’m afraid. I’ve never owned a fish. Glad Henry’s enjoying it, however.

    I’ve been away from the blogosphere over the holidays but hope to get back on track this week. I’ve missed you. Happy New Year, my friend.


    • I’ve missed you, too, Kathy. I’ve been away, without giving much thought to writing. But then the fish appeared and gave me new reason to head back to the blogosphere.

      Happy New Year, pal. May you and Sara have a bright and shining year ahead, with much success!

  8. Happy New Year, Monica!

    When we first lived in NJ, my husband and I were asked to care for a goldfish named Rainbow, and sure enough, Rainbow died after two days. We felt awful! How much care could a goldfish require, right? And what would we tell our friend to whom the goldfish belonged? When we broke the news, the owner simply said, “Oh, that’s like our fifth goldfish! No worries.” I’m glad Lady Guinevere made it just fine.

    • Happy New Year to you too, my friend. Poor Rainbow. But, you have to ask Rainbow’s owner, when they say it’s their fifth, can’t they read the writing on the wall? Maybe goldfish aren’t meant to be pets? Ditto for reptiles. I got my son two and both died within days. I figured it out and we never owned another. Sigh.

  9. Happy New Year my friend ( although it is not quite midnight in our neck of the woods)
    Your fishy story has me in fits right now, my girls are tucked in, we watched the ball drop in Times Square and I saw your post. I had to tell you that I have avoided bringing home the classroom pet many many times for a. I can take care of humans, dogs and cats, not fish, reptiles( my youngest is in a class where the boys rule and they have decided they want a boa… Oh my gosh! Can u imagine getting all the mice – I will have nothing whatsoever to do with that) or gold fish. B. I am mortally afraid they will not make it under my care, although we had the classroom guinea pig for a week and I was one nervous Nelly 🙂 and c. I just don’t want the responsibility. So other than for dogs, I have now refused to take in fish and other small varieties … It is just too stressful. I’m sure you’ll do fine. I hope you still enjoy the next few days reading and baking and watching movies with your son and daughter and ahem, Henry, of course.

    • Happy New Year, MM! Thank you. I’m so glad you agree that it is absolutely crazy to care for a fish. What’s the point? You can’t pet it. You can’t make it sit or roll over for treats. Sheesh! Stay strong and don’t take the boa in! 😉

      • Oooh no boas for me Monica. I can’t stand the thought of feeding live animals or rodents, even if it is part of a natural cycle… yuck! now that you’ve had a preview, I bet you can’t wait for Downton next weekend I am so impatient.. are you ready?

  10. I’m sorry I cannot help, even though I worked all through high school at a pet store, fish, reptiles, and those furry creatures were to my favorite. I preferred the pups. I’m sure Jack/Jill is enjoying his vacation at your house and will have stories aplenty to tell his pet owner. You’re a braver woman than I for taking in the slippery little devil. I’d be worried one of my two cats would have him/her for sushi dinner.

    Merry Merry an Happy Happy, Monica. Wishing you all the best.


    • Brenda, it’s funny but I kept thinking, if Henry were a cat and not a dog, this would be a disaster. He’d jump on the table for one, and bat at the fish bowl’s water. Yikes, it wouldn’t do. It wouldn’t do at all. Plus, I’ve never been one for reptiles or fish as pets. After all, how do you cuddle up with it? 😉

      Happy New Year to my favorite poet!

    • Kim, This is too exasperating. Which is why I’ve asked my daughter to take over caring for this little charge of ours. Yet, it still falls to me to remind her to feed the poor thing. Must be cold in that water all the time. Sigh.

      Happy New Year, my friend!

  11. Goldfish are hardy but guppies are hardier. Good thing it wasn’t a guppy as they not only last they multiply. And good thing it wasn’t an exotic tropical fish, then you’d be doomed. Tropical fish just don’t make it unless you have one of those fancy fish aquarium services. You’re a good neighbor. Your hardy goldfish who survived being on your doorstep will survive your home, I’m sure.

  12. Oh, Monica, I do feel for you. I’ve had fish, and they’re easy compared to taking care of someone’s Chihuahua! With fish, you’ve got to “let go” — of your worries. The more you stress over their care, the worse your holidays will be (and stressing doesn’t help the fish, either!). Don’t overfeed; don’t suddenly change their temperature (don’t dump fresh cold water in on them, and don’t set their bowl outside so they can get some sun!). Remember, they’re opening and closing their mouths so they can breathe, not because they’re hungry! Good luck, my friend, and Happy 2013!

    • Debbie, define “overfeed.” How much exactly is too much? And are fish like dogs in that they cannot eat chocolate? Just wondering, as I have candy dish filled with chocolate goodies and don’t want to tempt the fish unnecessarily.

  13. What ArtReviewed said, but through in a few flakes a day and scoop out some water and replace each day. Keep the bowl out of the window so it doesn’t get to cold. You should be fine.

    Happy New Year Monica!

    • The bowl is on my coffee table, Val, where Henry can keep an eye on things. He’s even more concerned than I am, as he has little faith in my ability to take proper care of the little fish.

  14. This is a fishy story, you have scaled down the information (Get the pun).

    As long as the fish does not get into hot water all will be fin(e).

    Goldfish are supposed to have a memory span of four minutes, so please tell young Henry not to be offended if the fish does not remember his jokes!!!

    Happy New Year Monica, thanks for the entertainment in 2012 and I look forward to more in 2013.

  15. My son brought home a goldfish from school when he was young. I put it in a bowl, bought some food, and the fish was dead two days later. I still don’t know what I did wrong. Neither does the goldfish.


  16. Goldfish are pretty easy to care for, Ive had a few! Just feed every few days and, regards cleaning, get a pint glass and scoop out a pints worth of water from his bowl and replace with fresh stuff! He should be fine! xx

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