For me, this New Year brings… a new pet!
I recently bought myself a fish tank for a new little betta fish!
As it happens, getting an actual FISH is more complicated than it seems.
I decided on a sturdy surface in a quiet location to place the tank. I installed the light and filter, and I filled the tank with water, gravel, and plants. It has been running for a week now, but it’s missing one very important element:
Where’s the fish?!?
In these years, I’ve learned a lot through my career training dogs about how, as animal trainers and pet owners alike, the health of an animal must be our number one priority. I appreciate maintaining working relationships with local vets, and often the first question I ask my new dog training clients is, “When was the last time your dog has been to the vet?”
With our pet dogs and cats it’s often easy to see when they are sick, but with smaller pets and exotic animals it’s much more difficult. I have been to animal training conferences and seminars in zoos and aquariums, and have come to understand the importance of making sure an animal’s habitat – his home – is safe, clean, and healthy for him to live in.
In college my betta fish survived just fine in their little bowls; but now I have to ask myself, were they really ok, or was their habitat actually as comfortable and healthy for the fish as it could be?
The tank has been set up now for a week; when will it be ready for a fish? Unfortunately, all I know is, it will be ready when it’s ready. It takes time for water conditioners to work, and I'm trying to practice patience.
Without even realizing it, we so often tend to rush into getting a pet and make irrational decisions about when is the right time. It may not be the right time to get a little puppy when your life is already busy with other family activities and priorities. It may not be the right time to take in a cat when you’re not sure how your dog will behave around a cat. And it may not be the right time to get a pet bird if you have neighbors or roommates who will be bothered by the noise birds make.
So I will be patient, and wait until the time is right to bring home my new betta fish!
Do you have a fish tank? How long did it take until your tank was ready for fish? Comment below - I'd love to hear your stories and see pictures of your setups!
Elizabeth Morgan, trainer and owner of Alabama Dog Academy, and proud trainer of Harper, the Canine Advocate at the Limestone Child Advocacy Center.