Lloyd the Fish

Sunday morning before church my wife told me “Lloyd the fish is dead”. 
Another fish funeral with an iPhone playing a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace on the funeral march to its watery grave with the family in tow…
My wife loves animals and has no problem whatsoever explaining that she likes them more than people. Not that she doesn’t like people, but she likes animals even more. I love that about her whenever we walk and call her the Dog Whisperer. 
Her eyes light up as she searches for the best place to scratch puppies behind the ears while their tails wag furiously and they attempt to maul her with their owners futilely trying to doggie-discipline them. 
I’m not an animal lover. We never had pets growing up because my parents came from the farm with animals everywhere and perhaps got a little tired of it. My dad always said animals should serve a purpose or why would you have them? 
Erin grew up on the farm too and would say every animal makes her happy and that’s their purpose. 
I did have a cat that wandered into our yard in Pasadena that I lavishly prepared a cardboard house for, even though I’m allergic to cats and think they’re the devil, but that ungrateful rascal broke my heart and ran away the first time his house fell in when it rained. 
I don’t forgive easily, oh and I like being able to breathe, so no more cats…
Life in our home was great for Erin for years as we had a chocolate lab/ retriever cross, but one day in a moment of weakness Erin was open to the suggestion of letting our dog stay with friends permanently because she was so tired of vacuuming black hair off of light carpet every single day of her life, and the dog chewed up a very expensive pair of leather baby shoes. 
She’d visit the dog’s new home every week and get her dog fix, but life was definitely easier without a pet. When it was time for the dog to be put down she took Katie with her, held Galadriel on her lap as she went to Doggie Heaven. 
Erin might opt for Doggie Heaven over actual heaven if she had a choice.
About once a month I’d walk past the kitchen island, look at the fishbowl and think “Hey, we have a fish!” 
That’s about as far as the extent of my psychological gearing towards animals goes. 
Every day for a long period of time Katie would ask if we could get a dog. Arwen and I were hugely opposed (she’s the oldest and knew, as I did, that we would definitely be the ones doing all the work), Ailish was indifferent, Neela was super into having a dog, and Erin was strangely quiet when push came to shove (though she used many opportunities in public to create Shaming Moments for me because I didn’t want one. Like Dog Shaming, but geared for husbands who don’t want dogs).
Finally one day I said to Katie “Why don’t you ask mom why I don’t want a dog?”. Katie said “Why dad?”
“Well” I responded, “I’m not completely opposed to having a dog, but the real reason is that mom broke all the rules she agreed to before when I brought Galadriel home”. 
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, shifted the power. 
Yeah, she was supposed to be an outside dog. That lasted about a week until she whined OUTSIDE OF HER DOGHOUSE IN THE RAIN for an hour while Erin looked on in sympathy and made the exact same noises. I figured Galadriel would get tired of being wet and go back to sleep in the expensive doghouse I’d made for her but she could sense the weakness of my wife and pounced. 
She started sleeping in the garage, then the house, then wherever the heck she wanted to. 
She was also supposed to be Erin’s dog, but wouldn’t you know I was the one who fed her, cleaned up after her, taught her to walk on a leash, parented her. 
Erin taught her how to bark when she said “Bad guys!” and how to roll over for treats. 
Katie’s eyes widened as I told her of the infractions of somebody she idolized and then she knew I had been horribly wronged. 
Also we used to travel (remember when the government didn’t control every aspect of our lives?:), and the dilemma was always “Who’s going to watch the dog?”
My parents didn’t want to, and we didn’t want to ask them to. It just became a lot of work. 
Lloyd (named after the Lego movies and pronounced “LaLoyd”) followed a fish called Sushi and was our faithful pet for quite a while. 
I’d never had a fish that lasted longer than the trip home from the carnival, so it was always a surprise to me how long Lloyd lived. Erin had panic attacks about as many times as she thought she had covid (every day) when Lloyd would play with her emotions by floating unnaturally and not moving a muscle for long periods of time just to freak her out. 
Lloyd will be missed but might not be replaced because Erin got a little tired of cleaning out his fish bowl. 
Also one time she was cleaning it he jumped out of the MEASURING CUP SHE’D PUT HIM IN and was found on the floor a long time after, which he managed to survive. 
Erin still feels a bit guilty:)

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