Over the weekend, while we enjoyed ourselves in sunny, lovely Connecticut (at the home of my sunny, lovely BFF Anke), one of the rockin' hermit crabs died.
I think his name was Zoidberg, but it might have been Goat.
This makes me sad. Especially because Benjy had forgotten to check their water dish before we left, even with prodding, and I found Zoidberg/Goat on top of the hermies' little drinking sponge, which was dry as a bone in a dry water dish.
Now, the other three hermies were fine, so I have to believe that Zoidberg/Goat was going to die anyway. But still, the thought of him searching for water, parched and possibly dying (well, certainly dying) makes me want to cry.
And here's the sad truth: Benjy loves animals more than anything on this earth, but he is not a good pet owner. If I didn't remind him to feed his fish and feed/water the rockin' hermies, they'd all have died a year ago. If I didn't drag him off the computer to clean the fish tank those little guys would be swimming in a murky stew.
And yet, he wants ever more animals. This drives me crazy.
But you know what? I was not so different. I loved animals beyond measure when I was eight, nine, ten, thirteen. We had a family cat, and I had a number of small rodents. I had a hermit crab, too. The hermie died quite quickly, but I don't remember ever receiving instructions for care. He probably either suffocated because we had no salt water in his tank, or died of loneliness because he was singleton and like most of us they need company.
My biggest animal (in every sense) was my horse, Stardust. She was my best friend in those lonely years, but if you think I mucked out her stall frequently enough you're quite mistaken. And there was the time I forgot to tell my father to buy more sweet feed and I got to the barn to feed her but there was no food. I gave her some extra flakes of hay and went home and wept. She got a disease colloquially known as mud fever as a result of my shoddy stall-mucking skills, and she got a fungus -- God knows why -- and lost half the hair on her body. These memories are excruciating to me. I let Star down, big time. I was not ready to be a horse owner at the age of thirteen, fourteen, and my parents were not interested in horse care, nor did they know anything about it.
I was like Benjy: in love with animals but not responsible enough to own any. I have such terrible remorse about my animal failures. There are more stories about Stardust to tell, some wonderful and some very sad. If I have the courage maybe I'll tell them to you sometime. If there are points to be awarded for love and affection then I should get a million of those. But I'd lose at least half of them for my benign neglect.
At least the weekend's death was on a small scale. I hope Benjy has learned a lesson about water bowls and small sponges and the value of even the littlest of lives.