Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Better to have loved and lost...

Our house has been a little meloncholy today. It's strange how much things affect us I suppose. I certainly don't mean to be dramatic, and GK and I have already been accused of treating our pets like people. But we can't help our attachment to them, especially to Johann, who in spite of our neglect lived a pretty full life.

GK bought our beautiful Beta Johann as a present for me almost two years ago. We had previously had two goldfish (one gold-Goldie, and one black-Kurt) who didn't last very long in spite of our best efforts. So we decided to get a tougher fish, and what we got was Johann. He was bright and beautiful and active and vibrant. When we dropped his food in the bowl, he snapped at it with amazing precision (and a fair amount of violence).

After surviving our move across the country from Denver to New York in a Nalgene bottle, Johann started to seem a little depressed. He stopped swimming around as much, he ignored the food we gave him and for a while we weren't sure how he was still alive. We went to Utah and California on multiple two week trips and would just leave him in our apartment. We'd give him a little extra food when we left (which he wouldn't touch) and we'd come back to our amazingly tough fish.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, GK decided to try to encourage Johann to return to his pre-New York state. So he bought a couple of guppies and for several days, Johann seemed to respond. He chased them (non-threatningly, but territorially), and swam around showing off his beautiful fins.

The guppies weren't as tough and after only a couple of weeks, one died. GK promptly went out and bought a new one. He placed the baggie into the top of the fishbowl and went to get a few things ready for the release. When he got back into the room he said, "Where is Johann?" I said, "What do you mean? Did he escape?" We searched all around and found him on the carpet in front of the bowl. It had been a minute or two and there was a clear path showing where he had flopped along and rubbed off most of his scales. We promptly put him back in the bowl and watched as he treaded water and slowly began breathing more regularly. We felt sick to our stomachs and hoped that once again our Johann would prove that he was the world's toughest fish.

This morning we woke up and found him face down at the bottom of the bowl beginning to decompose. He passed away from injuries sustained from an attempted escape. We'll miss him. It's strange, but I didn't realize how many times in a day I would glance up from my chair where I nurse Van and look to see how he was doing, until he just wasn't there.

If you're still reading, you're a better friend than I am. I loved my fish. I hope he had a good life.