Friday, September 23, 2005

animal magic

Today I talked about animals and caring for pets at Sage’s school, talking to three groups of kids. Whenever I do this, I expect the kids to maul the poor rabbits when it’s time to get up and close. This time, I explained to them why the rabbit deserves gentler handling, launching into a role-playing scenario wherein they, the kids, were suddenly shook around violently.

DEAN: What happens when someone shakes shakes shakes shakes you and pulls at your ears?

KID: You die.

DEAN: … Yes.

The entire event was called Pet Day, an annual show-and-tell of animals that the children kept at home. Each child was told to bring a pet to school. Since majority of these kids come from affluent families, most came with pedigreed dogs and cats (the dogs in costumes and on leashes, while the cats regarded everything with ennui from their cages).

When I arrived, one of Sage’s teachers came up to me.

TEACHER: Sage was anxious yesterday.

DEAN: Why?

TEACHER: She said she didn’t have a pet to bring to school.

DEAN: Well, the place where we live is quite strict about animals. I do want her to have a dog though.

TEACHER: I reminded her that while her classmates were bringing one animal, her Daddy was bringing a pet store. So those are all her animals.

DEAN: Ah, yes.

And I did, so Sage was quite the popular kid. I brought rabbits, green turtles, parakeets, hamsters and betas over in their carriers, cages and bowls – and fielded questions left and right. Sage was my able and responsible assistant, showing off her ability to hold and cradle a rabbit properly, balance a turtle bowl in her hands and identify the hamster food. In the end, half of the animals I brought were sold (I made the equivalent of a day at the store) and everyone was happy.

Especially Sage, who, because she promised not to wiggle the bowl, is now the proud owner of a fighting fish – and her Yaya Lhen, who will soon have a pair of parakeets for the house.


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