Ode to a Shrimp

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Our cats have been a well documented part of our family here in the Butler-Deitch household, but we have housed another pet for over 14 years – a shrimp.  Kim bought this shrimp and snail ecosystem for me in 1998 after I expressed fascination with it. The glass sphere came in a huge box – carefully packed for obvious reasons.  You’ve heard me express concern about kitties and breakables (Happy Life Toy and Fear of Celluloid) and this was a red alert concern.  My then cat, Otto, was absolutely entranced by it and Kim would take it down from a high shelf to show her occasionally (yes, Otto was a girl; that’s another story) until he decided it was undue stress on the shrimp.

And I do mean single shrimp! Due to either our own ineptitude, poor design, or bad luck, most of our shrimp died pretty quickly. We were ultimately left with one (suspiciously large) shrimp.  We put him on a darker shelf than what is recommended, so that the algae wouldn’t grow too quickly since there were no snails to help consume it. (Yep, they died too although it took a bit longer to figure that out as they are a bit inactive by nature.) So there he swam, year after year, living out his shrimp life. Kim was the best at tending him – taking him out and checking on him periodically.  As the years grew longer our amazement deepened.  He rapidly exceeded the expected lifespan and headed into uncharted longevity. A Methuselah of shellfish. Cats came and went and recently Cookie in particular was itching to get a little closer to this situation.

And then, the other day, Kim checked on him and alas, he had finally gone to the big shrimp round-up. As someone interested in Buddhism, I have to wonder if he (I always thought of the shrimp as a he) had some strange karma to work out. I know it is ridiculous to say, but I never really thought he was unhappy with his solitary existence. Perhaps even harder to believe, the house seems just a tad quieter and sad without his tiny shrimp presence.

A musical tribute below!

Or if you want to adopt some shrimp yourself you can buy one here.

Postscript: My mother was given one as a gift and is, frankly, sort of horrified by it. (She is such a fierce protector of animal welfare that she cannot stand the idea that the shrimps and snails are unhappy in their habitat. We differ in that I think it seems like a pretty good gig for a shrimp or a snail.) We will probably adopt hers if we can figure how to get it from NJ to NYC in one piece. Update to follow!

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