The first pets I had were fish. They, for obvious reasons, didn’t last long. My brother and I asked our parents for a puppy but with my allergies (and the fact that my response to the question “who will clean up after it” was “you will, papa”) it was a hard pass. Thus began a long and heartbreaking journey of trying to find the perfect pet.
After the fish died, and after we’d moved around, Nathan and I decided to try again. Mom introduced us to H-Mart, a magical place in which we loved buying Hello Panda Biscuits. Also at H-Mart: seafood. Live seafood, including crabs. We took it upon ourselves to save one crab from being someone’s dinner, and we named him Snapper. But alas, Snapper did not last long because as kids under 10, we had no idea how to keep it alive. RIP Snapper.
In Texas, there were lizards roaming everywhere, so we had a tank in the second living room where we could catch and release them. Not technically pets– but cool all the same. I distinctly remember my brother arriving at home with a handful of Green Anoles, and I think we even have a picture of it somewhere.
Finally, our parents gave in, and we bought mice from PetCo. I received a small dash of judgment from the kids at school when I proudly announced that, but I was young enough not to care. Sasha and Nibbles lived almost four years, and they were wonderful. On their birthday, we built them a (literal) cheesecake. Both mice loved their hamster balls, although sometimes we would find them wandering without the contraption. Not the perfect pet, but we adored them, and definitely spoiled them.
RIP Sasha and Nibbles, the best of mice.
A few years later, Nathan got a Bearded Dragon. Beardy came with us to PA, but he died in 2020 (what a mess of a year). Even though I was afraid to give him food because I didn’t want to be bitten, he was a part of the family. And he was never aggressive with my brother, who dressed him up in all kinds of costumes. The one with the cowboy hat was my favorite.
Then there were the two hamsters, who died pretty quickly, one after the other, because of health conditions. There was Pumpkin the Beta fish, who is no longer with us either after I came back from college (I suspect foul play).
And finally, Bielka the pandemic pup.
It’s her second birthday today, so of course I had to dedicate a blog post for her.
Even through all of our previous animals, who will never be forgotten, I kept wishing, praying, hoping for a dog, in spite of my allergies (cats were a definite no-go). In middle school, we almost adopted a Schnauzer, but I had a mild reaction, and the idea was nixed. So over and over, I was left heartbroken. When my friends talked about how annoying their own pets were, how they’d adopt another in a heartbeat, I silently stewed in frustration, because I’d never had the opportunity to give my love to an animal. Instead, I got hives and itchy eyes and a swelled face and sneezing.
As I said in my post last year: “Bielka came into my life during a period of time that looked bleak, when I was struggling with online classes and panicking about college, and now I look at her and smile. I may be off to new adventures in the fall, but she’s forever my miracle pup.”
There are two days I’ll always remember. The first: picking her up for the first time, when she weighed less than five pounds. I knew instantly that she was meant to be ours. I even planned to take medicine for the rest of my life if I turned out to be allergic to her, but thankfully, that didn’t happen. The second: lying on my bed after having received shocking news, and feeling her paw on my arm, as if she was saying: Don’t be sad. I’m here now.
Maybe I’m too sappy. Maybe I’m just a writer. But God chose Bielka for us, for the moment when the world felt like it was falling apart, and I am grateful for her every single day. When I’m at college, when I’m home, when I’m on vacation.
Happy second birthday, Bielka the Space Dog.
(Here are some happy pictures of her!