Autobiographical Essays

Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD (1910 - 1995)

Pets Not Allowed

When moving into Whitney Center you have to leave your pet behind, which is very difficult. There are both good and bad reasons for this regulation. Where does one draw a line? What is a pet and what is not considered a pet? Long cherished flower pots can be taken into the new apartment; however, we all know how much attention they need, and if for some reason you have to live elsewhere for awhile, the flowers will surely die, unless you can find a kind soul who will take care of them in your  absence.

At my last birthday my son gave me al small aquarium for fish. It is a hexagon, nine inches in diameter and twelve inches high. It has fine blue-green pebbles from which artificial seaweed sways in the water, a small electric bulb to keep the water temperate, and a smaller air pump to keep the water aerated. He also brought a few very small fish. I was not very happy with this present for these little creatures would die overnight, and I would find them floating on the surface and had to remove them with a little net. But there was one survivor, a curious fish, a miniature catfish, not more than one and a half inches in length, with a snout--like mouth. It is known as a scavenger fish. It goes up and down the glass walls and feeds on algae that grows on the tank’s walls. Since I am now using spring water the algae has disappeared, which shows, among other things, that our drinking water is not as pure as it should be. The fish feeds at the bottom of the tank, if and when it is awake, for it likes to lie on the bottom, completely motionless, its eyes wide open, unblinking, and I cannot for the life of me understand why the water does not harm the corneas of its eyes. Suddenly it comes to life, darting up and down in the tank for no apparent reason I can discern. After this frenzied swim it again freezes, and becomes immobile.

I added two fishes to the tank, one gold, the other black. The gold fish is about one and a half inches long with a beautiful fan-like tail. I call it my belly-dancer, for it gracefully shakes its tail back and forth, swimming up and down on its side and on its back. It is an intelligent creature, knowing when it is feeding time; when I put food into the water in almost nibbles my finger. The black fish is slightly smaller and also has a very elegant tail; its eyes are somewhat protruding, giving it the appearance of  hyperthyroidism.

I have grown emotionally attached to them. The tank stands next to the T.V. During the commercials  I study  them. Their movements fascinate me. When my son comes to visit, he cleans the tank. I hope that a kind neighbor will feed them when I am away, otherwise they would die, like my favorite plants when they are not watered.


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