I havn’t posted anything in a  while so thought readers might enjoy this tale of one of my  early  housesitting misadventures  which still gives me a giggle everytime I think  about it .


                                                                                                                                   The sad case of the swollen fish

Written by Wendy Buss

On one particular Sunshine Coast housesit I found myself in a lovely home  situated  right next to beautiful Lake Mackenzie  and within walking distance of one  of the Sunshine Coasts best kept treasure spots  the  beautiful Noosa /Cooroy Botanical Gardens.Absolutely divinely beautiful spot.

I had been hired to care for a lovely black labrador called Tassie  and a handful of fish.

To my recollection it was a small handful of ephemeral  semi transparent shimmery guppies with scarlet underbellies that shone prettily under the fluorescent tank lights and then one or two much  larger black ominous looking things : bottom feeders  with whiskers and stony toadlike bodies.

I had been given a tube of fish food and instructed to feed these fishes exactly   3 grains of fish food in the morning and 3 grains of fish food in the evenings .it was quite an undertaking trying to sort out only 3  tiny grains  which were no bigger  than a grain of sand or the head of a pin .For the first few days,I faithfully followed  instructions  but I began to get a nagging feeling I was under feeding the fish.3 grains really didn’t seem very much  e.g.  that was not even one grain per fish so I began  tossing them a few extra grains now and then . It was all very sporadic and intuitive and I am guessing all in all if you actually counted the extra gains I tossed their way  I might have fed them half as much again as the owners specified in their original instructions .


The fish seemed to be thriving and certainly weren’t complaining  . For my part I simply couldn’t countenance  the thought of discovering sad emaciated limp bodies of little fishes dead from  starvation ,floating belly up in the tank  .No thankyou,  not on my watch, especially when in that one little tube of fish food there must have been enough grains to feed a  hundred fish for a 100 years at least.

Something similarly sad and lamentable happened on a previous housesit some years prior .I had been left  in charge of a tank of hermit crabs  One morning I came downstairs to discover one of the little critters drifting lifelessly  who clearly had sheafed the mortal coil over night. He was floating  upside down his shell inverted and his little  legs all pointing skywards .It made me so sad and I recall how I did not relish the thought of having to ring the family in South Africa to let  them know a member of their family had passed over .

But for now at least  the fish all seemed healthy and happy and thriving and living large  (though hopefully not too large ) and they certainly weren’t complaining as I  the giant hand sprinkled  a few extra grains here and there raining down on them  I thought in amusement to myself like ’unexpected  manna from heav.      .As the sit came to an end ,I had packed my suitcase and and just putting the finishing touches to the final clean . ( I stake my reputation on leaving a house spotless at the end of a sit  ) At the appointed hour the family poured in . The kids were full of beans ,glad to be home and free of being cooped up in the RV . They clamoured in and there was the customary ritual fussing over the critters .The kids were falling all over Tassie the dog with hugs and  loud exclamations of  excitement and delight after  being away from her for 2 weeks .Their demonstrations of affection  were enthusiastically received by Tassie who responded with lavish licks and  a madly squirming butt  and waving tail.

Next came the families reunion with the fish and an enthusiastic tappng on the tank to let the fishes know their owners had returned  and a general counting and reckoning that all  the fish were still present and accounted for .I have to say at that point there was generally a good feeling of bonhomie in the room .The owners seemed well satisfied that their pets had been well taken care of  .The homeowner Karen had  remarked with pleasure how clean and sparkling everything looked. ‘Music to my ears ‘as I  gave myself an inner  thumbs up  Another good review  coming my way to add to my brag board of compliments posted on the site .Inwardly I glowed with the thought of another job well done  .

It was in this general glow of  bonhomie and good feeling that seemed to pervade the room  that I guess I loosened the grip on my reserve and put my aside  my filter and unwittingly at that point dropped a serious conversational clangers OOPS  !! I just happened to mention  being afraid I was perhaps underfeeding them I  had fed  the fish a few extra grains of fish food every now and then.

Well………all conversation suddenly seemed to stop . There was suddenly a very long and rather ominous pause .The air in the room seemed to become suddenly very still  and the temperature in the room seemed to drop by a few degrees .Was I imagining that members of the family were casting pointed knowing looks at one another ? Did I see the youngest daughters eyes suddenly widen and her bottom lip tramble as she stared at the fish tank afresh  armed with this new “hot potato” of fish maintenance intel ?

Nothing was said as Karen helped me to the car with my bags and we drove to the bus stop chatting about this and that .As I got out of the car   I told Karen I had really enjoyed the gig  and  I was happy for any feedback she would like to give me I asked her if she was happy with the job I had done would she post a review for me on the site . Karen agreed to  do this

Well a few days  later the review came in .To her credit Karen had publically said nice things

She had written:

“Tassie the dog loved Wendy at first sight. Communication was great and the house was left clean and tidy “

However privately she wrote to me :

“Wendy  my daughter was broken hearted to come home to a swollen fish “ 



The End



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