Never, but never, give a pet as a gift

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I learned to never give a pet as a gift. About 15 years ago it had a tragic end. It was just before Christmas and my nephew had been bugging his mother for a pet. I knew of his requests and talked to my mother about the possibilities. My mother was living with my sister and nephew at the time and she was the person whom most of the responsibilities of a new pet would fall on. With both of my sister and my mother's consent I presented a gift of a 3 gallon tank set up with 2 fantail goldfish. I only lived a few miles away and told all of them should they need any help at all just give me a call and I will be right over.

For the first few weeks I monitored that they were not feeding the fish too much or not at all. It seemed that I was teaching my nephew more than the adults in the house. After all I grew up with my sister and mother and we kept fish as pets when we were young. I thought that they both knew about fish culture from past experience, I was wrong.

That went on for about 3 weeks, after that I thought the fish are doing fine. We talked on the phone every few days and I always made sure that I asked how the fish were doing. The answer was always the same, "they are fine." It was 3 weeks before I dropped in on them for a visit, we were all going to meet up for a local sale then it was back to their house for lunch. It was before I got back to their house that I talked to my nephew and asked him how he liked the fish. He then told me that they were having trouble eating because they were swimming funny. When I got to their house I found out that the fish had lost all of their fins to fin rot, a common fish ailment. Those poor fish could not get to their food and they struggled to just get water over their gills. I was highly upset at both my mother and my sister for not telling me. I told them that I could have treated them for fin rot if only they had told me about the problem. I found out that they had not even bothered with the fish, because to both of them the goldfish were not a real pet but a throwaway item.

I came unglued and took the fish back that day. I would like to report that I successfully treated the fish and they lived but they did not. To me any life, even a goldfish deserves compassion and care on the part of its owner. Those 2 small goldfish got neither from their new owners. I learned a brutal lesson that year of never giving a pet as a gift even if you have permission.

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