A "Be Yourself" True Story
My parents found the ownership of a pet shop to be quite a challenge all by itself. As a little kid, I thought it was the best world ever. I didn't care if the parrot knew how to unlock his own cage and then fly over to the mynah bird cage and unlock it. I loved it when we would walk in to find the birds loose and shouting at each other. The parrot would squawk "Canaries are cute but they caaaaaan't talk!" The mynah would call back with a wolf whistle and "Good morning, beautiful!"
My mother found these things endearing at first, but they wore on her quickly. My Dad dealt with things fairly stoically, though he constantly worried about having a large portion of their inventory tied up in living creatures.
One night we were at home after dark when the phone rang at an hour past the "good news" time. My Dad answered the phone and found out that the hair salon next door to the pet shop had caught on fire. Something about sticky flammable hair spray in a 70's "hood style" hair dryer that had a short. The fire department was calling everyone in the shopping center to come and check on their shops.
I badly wanted to go with my Dad but he sternly insisted that I stay home. I think he was worried that he might find a very bad situation at our shop and he did not want me or Mother to see it. He called a couple of friends and left in our old yellow station wagon.
They all came to our house about two hours later. My Dad was covered in soot but he was all right, to our relief. He told us that no fire or intense heat had made it into the pet shop, but a lot of smoke had. Unfortunately some of the smaller parakeets had died quickly without plenty of air, though hopefully mercifully. I was sobbing and my mother just asked how the rest of the animals were. Dad informed her that she should lay down any plastic we had, old sheets, fill the bathtubs and get ready. He and his friends had most of the animals in the car and we would be bringing them inside!
I was still sorrowful about the lost pets, but excited about our new zoo. I went to help and soon enough, our house was filled with noise. One of our bathrooms had turtles and frogs in shallow water in the bathtub and sink. The other bathroom was filled with water and little baggies of fish were floating about individually. One large fish called an Oscar swam free under the baggies!
The utility area was the puppy room and there were kittens in my bedroom. My sister was away checking out colleges, so her room had plastic tarps on the floor and there was a cage of baby ducks there. One plastic tub on her desk held two squealing guinea pigs. A few sooty aquariums were scattered in the kitchen. Some held geckos and some had a few hamsters (which should be called HAMPSTERS) and gerbils.
It was absolute chaos and I loved it. The living room was the one room that might have been partly spared, but that was the location of the big cages for the parrot and the mynah bird who were talking up a storm and swearing a bit.
Looking back, my parents were lucky that we had really lost relatively few creatures. The next couple of days were pure madness. The birds in the living room got loose more than once, but we somehow wrangled them back into their cages safely. The house smelled of wet puppies and litter boxes, to my mother's absolute horror. She normally kept a very clean house. My sister had returned home and we were kept constantly busy trying to clean cages and soothe puppies and kittens. We were all involved together with a scrubdown and air-out of the pet shop. The people who owned the pizza shop nearby helped us out and brought us food. In turn, my parents gave them a voucher for three months of free dog grooming for their poodles.
It's a week I will never forget! It was soon rivaled by our middle-of-the-night trip to buy and transport more parakeets and gerbils. I'll try to write on that soon, plus I'd like to pop in with some thoughts about modern puppy training. Since we are raising a puppy now and it's been some time, I'm learning a lot about dog training from some great trainers on YouTube, especially Bethany from Ruff Beginnings. I highly recommend her videos. More on that next time!
Fires Suck, Poodles Rock
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