Animal Stunts - Pets

Our Last Fishy Performance

An animal entering our house would be wise to bring an updated will and phone numbers for next-of-kin.

We’ve boxed and buried guinea pigs, flushed fish, and had hermit crabs wander away in the middle of an electrifying race, never to be seen again.  Back in June we managed to kill a crawfish and Speedy the goldfish on consecutive days.  The very first post I wrote was about the death of a different goldfish named Speedy and his enemy, Brownie.

Right now we have three pets, though that number could change at any moment.  Elvis, the dog from Hell, has managed to stick around for a couple of years now, mainly through sheer cussedness.  Drew’s parakeet, Texas Ranger, requires little care.  He’s extremely shy and has yet to utter a word, which is a great disappointment to Drew and quite a relief to me.

Finally, there is the fish who swims in his bowl by the coffee maker, looking at us with baleful eyes, knowing his days are numbered.  He can feel his impending demise in his gills, and he’s not being dramatic.  He’s but one of a multitude of fish to live in that bowl, and his name, Bingo 3, can hardly provide reassurance.

Earlier this summer Bill won two fish in a game of Bingo.  Speedy was dead within hours.


Bingo bravely soldiered on without his counterpart.

Several weeks later we went to New York to visit Aunt Lulu.  A seventh-grader down the street came to our house once a day to check on the pets and bring in the mail.   Bingo, used to a house full of screaming inhabitants, was unsettled by the sudden change in his environment.  Apparently the shock was too much to bear.  Our sitter made the tragic discovery, and took steps to prevent our boys from facing death head-on.  His note read:

Dear Mr and Mrs. Glamore:

I regret to inform you that during my housesitting your goldfish died.  I think I overfed it.  I’m so sorry that this has happened.  My mom and I went and bought you a new fish at Petsmart.  They said that the fish needs at most five flakes a day.  Once again I apologize that you have to come home to this.  I’m deeply and truly sorry.

We were most impressed with the way the sitter had handled the death, by not only accepting responsibility but also going the extra mile and replacing the fish.

However, I noticed immediately that Bingo 2 didn’t have the zest for life that Bingo had exhibited.  He didn’t swim to the surface and pucker his lips endearingly when I poured a cup of coffee, and he didn’t barrel around his bowl in circles when I came home from work.  I was beginning to resent the amount of space the fishbowl took up on my kitchen counter.

We called our sitter again when it was time for our beach trip a week later.

“That was kind of you to replace the fish,” I told him, “but really, if it should happen again, just flush him and forget it.  The boys are getting older and they’ll deal with it.”

When we came home from the beach, the mail and papers were neatly stacked on the table, and another note was waiting by the fish bowl:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Glamore,

Once again an unfortunate event has occurred during my housesitting.  Your fish died.  I know you weren’t as attached to this one as you were to the last one, but I’m extremely sorry.  We are unsure how it died.  My mom and I bought you a new fish.  It has already been fed today.  I hope it lives a long life.

Bingo 3 has lived for nearly a month, but his swimming, once a sturdy glide, has a tremble I hadn’t noticed before.  He doesn’t spring to the surface to gobble his flakes, but meanders upward as if the three inches of water is too far to traverse.

I’ve seen Death of a Goldfish more times than I care to recall, and I hope this latest performance will be the last in the Glamore family theater.


  • Charro

    That is too funny. Many years ago, when my boys were your boys’ ages, we also went to the beach. We were going for a month so we HAD to take the goldfish that wouldn’t die AND hampster with us. Well, on the way, we stopped in Montgomery to go to the capitol etc. What to do with pets??? AHA… the wonderful ladies in the gift shop of one of the museums watched over them… oh what we do for our kids !!

  • Shawn

    I once flushed a blue beta female that I had for over three years. She was side swimming and death was taking forever, so I mercy killed her. I still feel guilty.

  • Jordan

    When my kids ask for a fish (the only animal in the world I’m not allergic to) I have to explain to them each time that we CAN’T have fish, darlings, because every time one of the poor creatures enters our home, it DIES IMMEDIATELY. And yet recently I found myself starting to falter, wondering if MAYBE it was time to try again.

    Until I read this and was reminded of the whole blasted thing all over again. Forget it. Not worth it!

  • Suzanne

    We have managed to convince our kids that when the fish “floats” they need to go to the doctor..While they are at school the fish disappears ..we then go to the Pet Store aka “Fish Doctor” to pick him up and he is ” All Better” we just pray alot on the way there that they have one that remotely looks like the one we flushed!

  • Rebecca

    I’m so sorry for your (repeated) loss(es). My 2.5 yr old’s goldfish, Apples passed away last Friday. Kyan had won Apples at the county fair, thanks to poor judgement on the part of his grandmother. Imagine explaining “death of a goldfish” to a 2 yr old!

    We are now the proud owners of a guinea pig, bought on a whim last Saturday to replace the deceased fish. I’ve read they live 5-7 yrs, and they don’t seem to take much attention. My boys love her and she’s “soft and fuzzy, mommy!” Hopefully, we won’t be boxing her anytime soon.

  • Brandi

    We have been through this so many times that I have forbidden the children to bring fish (from carnivals and fairs, etc.) into the house. You are so funny! I can always count on you to provide much needed comic relief.

  • Barbara

    We purchased a goldfish for our daughters after a trip to the Mystic Aquarium, when they were about 2 and 3 years old. “Misty” lived with us through many a move, from NJ to NY temporary housing, NY home, and she even made it all the way to FL.

    She (we decided she was a she, and who’s to say?) grew from about an inch long to close to 5 inches in the years we had her. Then, we noticed she was swimming sort of sideways. The girls insisted she go to the vet. Well, I looked on the internet and diagnosed swim bladder disease, which can be treated by giving the fish a pea. (It was the pea or try to pierce the swim bladder with a needle. Yes. I actually considered trying this.) Good old Misty ate the pea and straightened right up! Our joy was unparallel! For a day or two. Then, well. You know. Upside down in the bowl.

    We had Misty for over 4 years. The girls sobbed. I actually felt sad. Over a goldfish.

    If I had numbered the fish we have had since Misty, we would most likely be in the triple digits. Sometimes they come alone. Sometimes they come in pairs. Sometimes the small tank sits empty. Sometimes the fish have names. Sometimes they are just “Fish”.

    We remain unattached. When we returned from vacation a few weeks ago, and one of the fish didn’t look good, no one was surprised or much saddened that it became a floater a few days later.

    There will never be another Misty.

  • Buf

    Growing up we had a goldfish (won at a fair) on the kitchen counter for awhile too. One day however we found the poor fish in the toaster!!! To this day we aren’t really sure how that happened. The fish bowl was near the toaster but I don’t see how the fish could possibly have got up enough speed to jump out of the bowl and into the toaster. The leading theory is that my little brother (probably 3-5 at the time) put it in the toaster. However, he has not confessed as of yet (he’s now 31…lol)

  • For The Love...

    Poor house sitter…and you-the fish thing could have finally been over. We went with these beautiful weighted glass fish…no food, no poop and no cleaning the bowl….With 3 kids, 3 dogs and a horse I have enough of the food, poo and cleaning.

  • Cassie

    Okay there’s possible two things wrong her. One, could the fish bowl have been cleaned with something that is toxic to fish? Another thing, check the levels of the water. I don’t know how to explain it, but there are certain chemicals in the water if their not right that will kill the fish. Even if that’s your real objective. Ha ha!

    Sticking to 2 dumb dogs myself, minus a hamster who finally passed away! Woohoo!

  • Jennifer

    Do you think your neighbor could watch my dogs for me? Oh, I’m just kidding, I love my stinky, lumpy, messy, shedding dogs.

    I’ve never been able to keep fish alive. I am sorry for your losses, may they rest in fishy peace.

  • jenny uk

    we have two goldfish that have outlived the ones bought after them, I think they will be 3 years old in the spring (reminds me I must clean the tank, if I cant see them its time to scrub!)

    Our current animal status is 3 rabbits (four were taken by a fox) we had 2 guinea pigs but they passed this year, 1 lhasa puppy (too cute!)3 chickens (not laying yet)a chinchilla..I think thats it but am prone to forgetting just how many critters live in this house!

  • Karin

    We used to have a real fancy aquarium with exotic fish and filters and stuff. The water had to be kept at a certain temperature at all times. Then one of our famous snow (ice) storms caused a power outage in our house and the water got too cold and killed all the fish. That was several hundred $ loss. I asked my husband that why can’t we just get some goldfish, he said no because they always die (go figure).

  • jo

    In college I had a betta. He went to Girl Scout Camp with me. He hung out in the kitchen there after the first night when it got cold enough in the cabin to almost cause a thin layer of ice on the top of the bowl. (That was a harsh Alaska summer. We did wear shorts and it did get hot during the day…) He also flew with me to Arizona in a cup when I moved away from AK. He then flew with me to Indiana where he eventually died. They’re hearty those betta. Unlike the cute little teeny tiny frog I had in college who died like 10 minutes after I changed his water for the first time.

  • karyn

    I once had a beta fish my boss bought me, and I kept it on my filing cabinet by the window. “Fish” as he was creatively called, liked to jam by my radio; I think he was grooving to the vibrations coming off my adult progressive station. Or possibly he was being jostled by the roar of traffic outside.

    It sucked when he died, not just because I then had seventy two metric tons of fish gear to keep…oh…under my desk, but because I had to wash out the damn dish in a public bathroom and it smelled like absolute hell.

    Does your sitter watch hateful pets with hair? I’m just asking.

  • Blue Momma

    Should I send Punkin’ over to handle Bingo 3 for you?

    He will take excellent care of him and pay him lots of attention.

    He even took his fish out of his bowl today to play with him. Such a caring child!

  • Mamaluv

    Aahh, that’s a trip down memory lane. My siblings and I would bury our deceased pets under a certain apple tree – the “perfect spot”. We also laid to rest several birds that flew into our patio windows there. Eventually we started happening upon old graves in our search for new sites.

    I guess we weren’t very good at petcare. That explains why I didn’t earn the animal husbandry badge in Brownies.