Willy and the daily chance that we’ll find him dead


A little goldfish arrived in our care after Katie’s nephew threw some balls in an uncannily accurate way at a county fair and, in return, received several fish in ziplock bags filled with water.

It’s been an eye-opening seven weeks of ownership, and while his brother died within days in the care of a small child, we attribute Willy’s exceptional life to his own rigorous daily habits (thank you, Ben Franklin):

1. Beg for food. Flipping around like an acrobat, spotting humans from 20-feet away.

2. Poke at rocks. Do handstands, bob like jackhammer, hope for food underneath.

3. Zoom to the surface to eat bubbles. Not food, but it looks like food.

It’s a simple existence and one that still manages to cause panic. Is he moving too quickly? Dying of hunger? Is that stillness sleep? Will one of his eyes fall out?

Things reached peak worry the other night when we tried to introduce some fresh food into his life. He’s been living off of these multi-colored flakes that look like Fruity Pebbles but smell like your garbage disposal after a night of seafood.

So we gave him some carrot bits. A little sliver of cucumber rind. Even pear peel, finely chopped. I mean, we fed him nothing but the best. People routinely pay big money for tiny food with fancy names.

Each offering was eagerly devoured. Each piece was ejected from his little fish lips. Each piece was eaten again. Vomited again.

So he likes his McDonalds best, right? We raised him on junk food – it’s our fault for not imposing a better diet when he was younger.

But could fresh food kill a fish? Of course not! And yet, our Willy managed to get several pieces jammed in his gullet and he stopped swimming. Breathing became erratic. In some sort of no-touch Heimlich maneuver, I had to startle him enough to make two or three chunks of food pop out of him. Good as new, or as best as a fair fish can expect.

Katie’s take: “No more feeding him. Ever.”

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