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 “