“Mom, why do we have to get rid of squirrels?” My four year old daughter looked up at me, her blue eyes filling with tears. She’d been a little touchy lately, especially after her fish Leon died. My son is allergic to most pets – cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets. We had hoped that a tiny Siberian hamster would be okay, but he broke out in a rash as soon as he got near one. So, our family is a fish family.
We made a big production of taking a Saturday morning to go pick out the perfect aquarium for our house, and each of us got to pick out a fish. My husband hates the idea of fish as pets, but he saw how important it was to our kids, so he relented and the family took a trip to a local aquarium store. Normal pet stores cause an allergic reaction in my son, so a specialty store was the only way to go. We had to drive about thirty minutes, and spent a good hour picking out an appropriate aquarium and the fish to put in it. Everyone wanted a different fish, but not all fish get along well. Fortunately, the employee was very patient with us and helped us get everything, and every fish, we needed.
My daughter got a little blue fish that looked like it had neon stripes on it. She was so proud of it. I have no idea where the name Leon came from, but that’s what she called it. My husband set up the new aquarium, we got the water levels and chemistry correct, acclimated our new family members to their new home, and taught the children the appropriate care and feeding procedures.
But, then, my daughter got a little overzealous early one morning. She decided all the fish needed more food, and she poured the flakes all over the surface of the water. As soon as I walked out of my bedroom to make everyone breakfast, I saw the catastrophe, and quickly scooped up as much as I could. By then, though, it was too late for Leon.
My daughter cried bitterly, dealing with the death of a beloved pet at an early age. Which is why I found myself having to explain to her, very carefully, why we have to get rid of squirrels.
Two days ago, I noticed my son was getting more and more rashes. An allergic reaction to something, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I quizzed him to see if his class had a new pet at school, or if he played at a friend’s house who had a pet. It turned out, after quite an extensive investigation, that we have squirrels in the attic. We found out early enough so that they hadn’t done a lot of damage, but they’d soiled some of the insulation up there. I called Allstate Animal Control and arranged for someone to come out and get rid of squirrels, and my daughter overheard me. Apparently, she had thought they were her new pets. I explained the squirrels were just confused and thought our house was a good place for them to live, but that they really needed to live out in the trees. We also made a second trip to the fish store that day.