Dragon Parties & Pets


The Loud One takes her birthday very seriously. She was born on August 22nd and she’s usually working on the plans for next year’s celebration by the 28th. Of that same month. August.

She’s starts by thinking about the party’s theme. For her 4th birthday, she considered an Animal Party, a “Backyardigans” Party, a Hide & Seek Party and eventually, she decided on a Pirate Party. It was totally manageable… except for the Epic Cake Fail.

This is the cake I made the night before. Snapped the picture, then took the “decorations” off the top so nothing would fall over.














This is what the cake looked like the next morning. One hour before the party. I didn’t realize that the cake itself, would fall over.











For her 5th birthday, she pretty much had decided on a Puppy Party from the very beginning. Easy! A couple of cardboard doghouses and we called it a day. And I rocked that cake. (And by “rocked,” I mean, “made something that I tried to copy off the Internet and it vaguely resembled a puppy.”)











Well, this year, she turns six and over the past eight-ish months, I’ve heard all of the following ideas:

  • “Maybe we can do another Puppy Party with real puppies this time… and everyone can bring one home!” (Oh sure! The other parents will LOVE that! SO much better than the bubbles and pencils and candy and stickers!)
  • “I really want a Dinosaur Hunting Party! We can hide dinosaurs all over the backyard!”
  • “I’m going to have a Husky Party for my birthday. And my present will be a Husky.”

The latest conversation went like this:

LO: I really want to have a Dragon Party. With a real fire-breathing dragon statue. I can be Toothless and everyone else can try to capture me and try to train me. (For those of you uninformed, Toothless is the dragon from the movie, “How to Train Your Dragon”)

Me: Hmmm. I’m not sure that would be very fun for your friends.

LO: YES IT WILL! They can wear dragon costumes, too if they want.

Me: <pause> Have you considered an off-site party… like say, at Pump It Up?

LO: Can we bring animals there?

Me: No.

LO: Than how will I have a Dragon Party?


Over the course of the year, she also works on her present wish list. (These lists often mysteriously disappear during the time between September and June, but she remains undeterred and just begins a new one.)

Her current list includes six things from the American Girl catalog that are all animal related (she tells me, “Did you know that the American Girls all have puppies? They’re so lucky.” And I’m all, “Are you kidding? Addy’s a SLAVE and Molly’s living through World War II! The only lucky one is Julie, because she’s growing up in the 70s and gets to wear funky clothes!”); a new basket for her bike; stuffed animals; and a pet hamster.

Now you should know, as she’s made these lists for the past year, the American Girl stuff comes and goes and she often forgets about the bike basket. But EVERY SINGLE BIRTHDAY LIST ever has included some sort of living creature. A hamster. A turtle. A guinea pig. It doesn’t really matter… her desperate desire for an animal companion has remained steadfast.

Wait, if it’s not already clear, her absolute FIRST choice would be a puppy. But she knows that’s not happening because of, um, you know, Daddy’s allergies.

Side note: I told her that having two little brothers is just like having a dog… they’re both constantly getting into her stuff, they poop where they shouldn’t, they like to go for walks and we’re constantly yelling at them, “STOP! Drop it! Sit! Don’t eat that!”

She didn’t buy it.

Here’s the thing… KJ and I aren’t really dog people. You know how dog-lovers say that they’re suspicious of people who don’t love dogs? Yeah, well, that’s us. We’re those shady characters that don’t daydream about adding a four-legged child to our family.

In fact, I’m suspicious of THOSE people who say they’re suspicious of people who don’t love dogs. Just because I don’t want my house to be covered in hair and my yard to be covered in poop doesn’t make me a serial killer. I mean, I’m not making plans to drop kick a small cock-a-poodle or anything; I’ve just never wanted one in my own house.

For those of you asking, “Didn’t you have pets growing up?” the answer is this: my family had a dog (Brady) and a cat (Twinkie) before I was born. Weeks after my birth, the dog died and the cat ran away. They clearly feared my domination.

When I was about seven, I got a parakeet and named it Pretzel. For weeks I tried to teach that bird to say “hello” by recording myself saying “hello hello hello” over and over again on my cassette player and then rewinding and playing. Rewinding and playing. Rewinding and playing. That stupid bird never said one damn word. And then it died. (This just occurred to me… is it possible I bored it to death? Well, whatever.)

DESPITE our sketchy animal history, I think it’s time we give in to our first-born. The Loud One’s passion cannot be denied any longer. (Not that it could ever be denied, given its volume…)

But we need help. We need some advice on the best starter pet for a six-year-old.

I have a few requirements:

  • It can’t require living things as food. I’m not storing mice in my freezer or accidentally dropping a bag of live crickets on her bedroom floor.
  • It can’t constantly smell. I understand that poor pet/cage hygiene may result in an undesirable odor, but it would be great if the animal didn’t naturally smell like poop or feet.
  • It can’t be too noisy.
  • But it can’t be too boring. (She would like to be able to hold it, so yeah, fish are out. Plus, we’ve already had fish. They were boring. And then they died. Are you sensing a theme here?)
  • She should be able to handle the basic maintenance (i.e. feeding it) herself.
  • It preferably bathes itself (and cleans its own cage/tank/home if we’re really being honest).
  • And it would be great if we could just leave it alone for a week at a time when we travel. I’d hate to bother any of you about pet-sitting. (Am I shooting to high here? FINE.)

So, I will await your suggestions. Comment here. Email me. Whatever. Just don’t mention this to her should you cross paths. And DO NOT buy us a puppy.


OH, and while you’re helping me out, if anyone knows how to build a real fire-breathing dragon statue, consider yourself hired.



















AW. Maybe.

21 responses »

  1. What about a frog? Get a tadpole and raise it and then, at some point, you can let it free in nature. Right, the frog won’t die because it’s been raised in a cage? Oh no. Well, perhaps you keep the frog. It’s an idea.

    • Hi Sarah, “frog” has actually appeared on some of her lists, so great idea.

      I also like the idea of starting with the tadpole. I ESPECIALLY like the idea of letting it go at some point… no one would ever have to know the fate of that frog. I’m sure it would be JUST FINE.

      My only concern… don’t frogs need live flies to eat? That’s a deal-breaker for me.

  2. About the interest in fire-breathing dragons — are you letting her watch Game of Thrones again? I thought we discussed this — WAY TOO VIOLENT.

    And about the puppy — how about the non-shedding kind? I know a friend with the cutest — and small, but not toy poodle small — labradoodle. You have it pretty easy — I can always watch the dog for you.

    • I told KJ that! I said, “C’mon, you know she’s too young G of T! Put Sex & the City back on! But he wouldn’t listen.”

      On the .00001% chance that SOMEDAY we consider the possibility of maybe getting a puppy, it would have to be the non-shedding kind. And I would totally want a tiny one that I could carry in a purse. Except I don’t carry a purse, so it will have to fit in my wallet.

      And yes, your dog-sitting services will be very much in demand. Thanks!

  3. My advice? Well, you asked… NO! EWWW!! DON’T DO IT!!! Why do you need to give in? You have a zoo nearby and an animal shelter that loves visitors…And, I can’t think of any animal/pet that meets all of your requirements anyway. Dress the boys up as puppies for her birthday and call it a day. The fire breathing dragon, however, I’m happy to look into for you.

      • Ummm, yes I can resist. But I don’t have to live with her. I love her and think she’s adorable, not to mention persistent, but no to the pet thing. Can’t you just bribe her with stuff until she moves out?!? I’m not opposed to that.

  4. K-MAC – I think you are describing a cat based on your criteria…there are those hairless rat looking cats and I think hypo-allergenic ones (I think I’m not making that up). You can also make it an outdoor cat – and let it sleep in the garage when it’s too cold…that’s what my dad did – but we did not live in New York…we left our cat for 10 days once on vacation without any issues – lots of food and water and a clean litter box is all they need – they could probably care less if you are there or not as long as they have food and sunlight…

  5. I feel the same way about pets. Is the allergy thing legit? If not, I second a cat. They are very self-sufficient. We also used to leave our cat for the weekends with a big bowl of food and a stack of movies. (Really for the food, not really for the movies.) I’ve also heard good things about guniea pigs but I am not a huge rodent person. Do NOT get a dog unless you are 100% on board with taking care of it.

    • Moriah, please see above re: cat. Actually, I’ll just repeat it for you: EW. No.

      I didn’t think of the guinea pig as being a rodent. Thanks a LOT.

  6. I had an idea about the frog. When it’s a full-sized, bug eating adult, maybe you could donate the whole frog sha-bang to a local school or camp (maybe even the loud one’s school) where kids could feed it live bugs all day long and all will be happy. Until then, maybe froggie protein pellets or something will be enough and the loud one will be happy to have a pet to hang out with for a little while.

  7. First of all Jill, you know me… do I seem like the kind of girl that could build a hutch? 🙂

    Let’s assume I could outsource that task, one of the main reasons that LO wants a pet is to keep her company at night. (I think I’ve mentioned that she does NOT like being alone in her bedroom… which is music to her father’s ears, of course.) So unless I want her sleeping in the backyard every night, I’m not sure she would…. waaait a second, this might just be perfect!

  8. This is the cutest story ever. I had to laugh at yours and the loud one’s comments. Sorry, I can’t help you here. I guess it runs in the family. I am not an animal lover. However, I will always stop in the pet store to look at them. I also want to go to the Bronx Zoo one of these days. Go figure! How about those fake puppies/cats that move like real ones. They also look real too! No maintenance!

  9. Sounds like Reagan! I am seriously concerned she may be one of those animal hoarders when she grows up! Anyway, we just got a cat. Yes, litter is gross…. But that’s all you have to do for them. Reagan also has a guinea pig in her class that we take home often. They are VERY cute and social….. But you need to clean the cage OFTEN or they stink. Good luck with your search

  10. A cat is great ….properly fileted, and sauteed in a light wine sauce ….oh, you mean as a pet? NO! Don’t get a cat. Dogs have owners – cats have staff. Rodents? (hamsters/gerbils/mice/etc are NOCTURNAL. That means they scamper around all night on their little wheels and tunnels making a racket in an approximate ratio of one to 9 trillion – size to noise volume. Birds or dogs? Can be fun but high maintenance. Reptiles or amphibians? Exciting…..for about the first hour and a half. (And also impractical until a sure, fast, and inexpensive cure for salmonella is found.) Fish? Like buying a boat. “Best day”? When you get it. “Second best day”? When you get rid of it. My suggestion? An ant farm.

  11. I read this post during a commercial break. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t compose myself. Fortunately the next story i read on the air was just a house fire and not a murder. I’ve learned my lesson!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s