Two days ago, the Pacman Frog showed signs of an eye infection; it was brought into the Quiet Room, and its eye was dosed with medication twice a day. I closed last night and opened this morning (I was covering a closing shift for someone else). Last night, the frog seemed…well, frog-like. Still. Pensive.
This is a Pacman Frog by the way. source
Last night, a man came into the store with his dead betta fish. He wanted to exchange it for another betta fish. I said that I couldn’t test the water if the fish was in the water. He asked what that had to do with anything. I explained that, per our policy, before we did an even exchange for fish, we tested the water. He exclaimed that no one had told him that. I said that it would be no problem, if he just brought back another water sample. He said something about how he had had the fish for two months and then it suddenly dies — Two months? I said. Because that even-exchange policy for fish only lasts for two weeks.
Long story short, he spoke with the manager, who corroborated my story. The fish policy is only for two weeks. The man left, sans fish, furious. The manager gestured at the fish in my hands and said to throw it away.
I went into the back room and held the fish cup over the trash can. I looked at the dead fish. He was a blue crowntail-plakat, with a blue body and head, rimmed in rainbow colors. He had been a beautiful fish.
This is roughly the body shape I’m talking about. source
I thought that perhaps I ought to say a few words. It was a dead creature. He had probably lived a short, horrible life, full of cramped spaces and too little oxygen. Probably overfed. Probably cold. I hadn’t known about him for but five minutes, and he had been dead the whole time. Still, some respect was due.
All I could come up with was, “You were a beautiful fish.”
Then I dumped him and the cup into the trashcan with the kitty litter, used tank filters, and hamster food, and then went on my way.
This morning, the Pacman Frog was dead. I didn’t react as strongly as I had to the leopard gecko that died last week. All I did was take out a pair of tongs and poke it a few times to make sure that it was dead, before I wrapped it in a paper towel, put it in a fish bag, and wrote down the date, my name, and the Pacman Frog’s UPC code on the fish bag. Then stuffed the whole shebang into the freezer. Then I went about my day. Feeding animals. Sanitizing water dishes. Medicating the living sick animals.
I’ve seen a lot of dead animals lately.