I have become the donation place for unwanted pets. Two years ago my teaching partner retired and gave me her two turtles. Taco and Tiny now live in my classroom. Luckily they are pretty low maintenance.
Last spring '06, I was given a hamster from the teacher of the hearing impaired. It seems a college student taught a lesson about pets, bought this creature as an example, and then couldn't keep it. It escaped their classroom and was found late in the evening by the teacher. So in the summer Speedy, whom I called Houdini, became mine. You know that I just adore hamsters but have no luck keeping them alive. This is somehow relate to my love of cats. When the hamster comes to our house for the holidays they alway run into cat problems.
Well, Houdini stayed at school and over the holidays I would go to school to care for the classroom critters and plants. Houdini made it till the end of Spring Break, a hamster longevity record. Someone had broken the top plastic latch that secured the upper most hide away in the habitrail. Our rooms are not very secure and often people come in them after hours if they are left unlocked and sometimes organizations reserve classrooms for programs. These people are not always respectful of our property or take responsibility for things that get damaged.
Anyway, Houdini made his second escape. We moved his cage to the floor and left him water and food, thinking he would return at some point and we'd capture him. This time he was not so lucky. I had gone back to school one evening to do some work and took Amber with me. She loves my classroom and playground. I think Amber found Houdini while I was working. The next morning when Angelique went to change the bulletin board calendar and daily schedule for me she found Houdini slightly flattened and sprawled on the circle time rug. This of course was a difficult life lesson to explain amidst tear and incoherent speech Angelique's not mine.
On to the next acquisition. The fourth grade teacher, who is moving, gave me his Oscar fish. It is huge. He put it in my 10 gallon tank with my other fish. Another teacher pointed out that Oscars are carnivorous and will eat my other fish. The fourth grade teacher sheepishly agreed that this would happen. I put "Oscar" in a rubbermaid container and took him home to Daniel's tank. I thought his tank was empty of fish. Of course this was not the case. There were two little fish still living in the tank. I said, "Well you're not attached to them are you." Needless to say Daniel and I fished them out of the tank and took them to my class, leaving "Oscar" alone in our home tank.
Now Doug and I are pricing 30 gallon tanks. Free animals are costly.
"Oscar" has a story. The fourth graders call the fish Oscar (how original). Angelique was in charge of feeding Oscar one day during the school year. Her class was the fourth grade class where Oscar lived. Oscar decided to jump out and escape when she lifted the lid to feed him. Well... you can just imagine how well Angelique took this. She became hysterical. I'm told it was quite a site. I had the privilege of witnessing the second act. As she came down the stairs (at the end of the school) and was in eye sight of my room, she burst into slobbering wailing tears. I couldn't understand a word she said. One of her friends explained what happened. I thought this tiny little fish jumped out of the tank and lay floundering on the ground dying. No this huge fish did not die, nor did it eat Angelique, and now it lives on with me.
I am now the proud owner of a gecko. This gecko has escaped twice from two different people in the school. It had been in the other kindergarten room last summer. When the teacher came back from break it was gone. In January, a first grade teacher returned to her room one evening and found a gecko scurrying across the floor of her room. It was captured and given to the 7 & 8th grade science teacher. It was later found out that this was the same gecko who disappeared from kindergarten over the summer. Guess what? The teaching assistant didn't want him back. So he stayed upstairs in the middle school until he escaped three weeks ago.
Over the weekend the custodian found him in her storage room. The principal called the other kindergarten teacher to claim the gecko. She has now passed him onto me. So now I've invested in special vitamin enriched gecko sand and a $20.00 lamp for this hand-me-down pet. I'm rooting for a third and final breakout.
For part of Daniel's lit. final he had to discuss and analyze elements of the the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I wonder if we are the Pet Menagerie and what that says about the dynamics of our life.