Loving Lucy: A Chicago mom’s adventures in owning a pet

When people ask us if we have a pet, we normally say “no.”

Then quickly say, “Oh wait, YES, we have a goldfish!”

Then the maniacal laughter ensues from the other party.

I have learned this: Fish, especially one fish, aren’t considered “pets.”

By “pet people.”

Maybe it’s because they are low maintenance. Well, at least ours is.

Maybe it’s because they eat their own poop.

Maybe it’s because they don’t make any noise.

But our goldfish is special.

We begrudgingly became fish parents in the summer of 2006.

Our then 6-year-old daughter brought him/her (there is no way to tell, just go with it) home from a fun fair she attended with a friend.

When we picked her up that day, she was carrying a clear plastic bag with something floating in it and had a HUGE smile on her face.

“I got us a fish!!!”

Oh. Boy.

We already had a dog at the time.

A crazy, makes-Marley-look-like-a-tame-poodle, uber hyper, eats furniture, poop, crayons and entire bundt cakes, yellow lab mix dog named Riley.

A fish in our home = lunch for Riley.

When we got home we put “Jake” in a glass trifle bowl we had laying around with some water.

We didn’t have high expectations.

Like clockwork, within two weeks Jake was a goner.

But it happened while our daughter was on a weekend getaway with my parents.

So we did what we thought good parents would do.

We bought a replacement fish at Petco for 75 cents.

And a mate for the replacement fish.

Because, you know, two fish deaths are better than one, apparently.

Enter Jake, The Sequel and Lucy.

A year later, Jake, The Sequel perished while we were at the Taste of Chicago.

Let’s just say that he said “Goodbye, cruel world” and propelled himself out of his bowl.

We found him lying on the kitchen rug.

Riley never touched him.

We surely thought Lucy would go soon after.

Because of the whole fish widow thing.

But soon after we realized that she was, dare I say, happier upon Jake, The Sequel’s dramatic exit.

She gained more color.

She was eating better.

She looked . . . happy?

Eight years later and she is still going.



Our goldfish that we spent 75 cents on is still alive eight years later.

We don’t put any chemicals in her water.

We feed her fish food, the same fish food from Wal-Mart that we have bought from the beginning.

We don’t do anything special.

There are no cool plants in her bowl or those scary deep sea divers with the creepy masks on.


That is where the magic happens.

In the same trifle bowl.

From Wal-Mart.

For $6.95.

Over the past eight years, Lucy has become family.

I mean FAMILY.

I talk to this fish every day.


She wiggles like a dog when I get ready to feed her.

She swims to the side of the bowl when she sees someone.

She also splashes us if we haven’t fed her.

I am not making this up.

She is a huge conversation starter in our home.

People who have been to our home before always greet Lucy when they first come in the house.

First timers, most likely will say, “Holy crap! That is a big goldfish!” followed by, “Are you kidding me???”


I know.

She is one cool chick, isn’t she?

I love this fish.

Our daughters love this fish.

My husband even begrudgingly loves this fish.

She is family, she is our pet and she is special.

AND she doesn’t eat furniture.

Just sayin’.

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